This past season was one to remember for the Pawtucket Red Sox franchise. Not only did the 2012 club, a club that saw an extreme amount of roster turnover, bring the Governors’ Cup back to Rhode Island for the first time in 28 years, its players and staff experienced riveting, and on some occasions, career changing feats that will forever be ingrained in their memories.
As per the norm this time of year, we’re here to recap what was an compelling year for the Boston Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in a simplistic, top 10 list.
10. McCoy Stadium gets a makeover
For the first time since 2006, McCoy Stadium, which celebrated it’s 70th year in existence this season, received a new playing surface in October. The renovations were rendered on both the infield and the outfield grass, and were performed by Sports Turf Specialties of Wrentham, Mass.
It may not have have been an awe-inducing moment like the nine that will follow, but new grass for the first time in six years is still a quality moment for everybody involved in the franchise, especially the players. You can watch a time-lapse of the project by clicking here.
9. PawSox tie franchise record with ninth-straight win
Long ago, when the PawSox featured a lineup akin to what Boston had in September, the club tied the franchise mark of nine straight wins. It was April 24 when the PawSox achieved the feat on a 4-3 victory over the Scranton-Wilkes Barre Yankees (if you haven’t heard, the Yankees recently changed their name).
Mauro Gomez led the way offensively with a three-run home run, and the collective pitching efforts of Brandon Duckworth, Clayton Mortensen, Alex Wilson, Rich Hill and Mark Melancon stymied the Yanks’ bats.
8. Will Middlebrooks homers in four straight games
It took all of 24 games in Pawtucket for Will Middlebrooks to captivate Red Sox Nation and to garner a call-up to Boston. In that stretch, the 24-year-old batted .333/.380/.677/1.057 with nine home runs.
Four of those nine homers came in four straight games in mid-April (18-21), amid the PawSox’ nine-game winning streak, and had Middlebrooks homered in the first game of the PawSox’ doubleheader on April 23, he would have matched Michael Coleman’s five-game home run streak set in 1999.
Middlebrooks ended up going 0-for-2 with a walk and strikeout in game one of the doubleheader against the Durham Bulls, but in game two, the Texas native belted a three-run home run. Although he didn’t accomplish Coleman’s feat, he did match Josh Reddick’s four-game home run streak from 2011.
7. Bryce Brentz wows in playoff run
Bryce Brentz did anything but performed well in his first five games at Triple-A, batting .118/.167/.118/.284 after a 122-game Double-A Portland campaign in which he batted .296/.355/.478/.833. But once the playoffs game around, the former first round pick played at an exceptional level.
In seven games during the Governors’ Cup Playoffs, Brentz went 8-for-24 (.333) with five RBI, a double, triple and two home runs. It’s safe to say he adjusted well to Triple-A level.
6. Mark Prior’s revival (almost)
Remember when Mark Prior suited up for 19 games with the PawSox? Well, if you don’t, you should because oft-injured, former second overall pick almost had a career revival playing for Pawtucket.
In those 19 games, Prior pitched 25 innings and struck out 38, while surrendering 11 runs (3.96 ERA). Although he did walk 23 batters in that span, it appeared the 32-year-old was on the right track to pitch in the majors for the first time since 2006. Instead, Prior was released by the Red Sox in August in order to create roster space for Pedro Beato.
5. Lars Anderson breaks McCoy’s video board
If you’re reading this, you probably heard or saw, whether in person or on ESPN Sportscenter Top plays, Lars Anderson breaking the video board in right-center at McCoy Stadium (if you haven’t seen it, click here).
It was a mammoth shot, to say the least. It was one of two PawSox plays this season that was featured on Sportscenter — the second one is high on this list.
4. Arnie Beyeler earns first major league promotion
Arnie Beyeler was one of the best managers to walk through McCoy in sometime. Not only was he the guy to lead the first Governors’ Cup championship team in 28 years, he won the International League North in 2011 and collected a 160-126 (.559) record in two seasons at Triple-A — which places him second, behind Ken Macha, for highest winning percentage in PawSox history (with at least 100 games managed).
So, when Beyeler was named Boston’s first base coach for 2013 in November, it was a great moment for him and the PawSox.
3. Ben Mondor statue is unveiled
Had it not been for the late Ben Mondor’s persistence earlier in his career as PawSox owner, this marvelous 2012 season probably would have never occurred. There couldn’t have been a better season to unveil the statue of the best thing to have ever happened to PawSox baseball.
The statue is located in the Mondor Gardens, which is just behind the left field fence at McCoy.
2. Jason Repko’s sensational catch
And here’s the second PawSox play to land on Sportscenter Top plays. Just like Anderson’s home run, you’ve probably seen this, and if not, here it is.
1. PawSox take home Governors’ Cup
This had to take the top spot because it was clearly the highlight of the 2012 season. For the first time in 28 years, the PawSox took home International League glory.
To place it in crazier context, this PawSox team endured immense roster turnover as 69 different players donned a PawSox uniform in 2012 (one shy of the franchise record of 70 set in 2006 and 1995), and only seven players from the opening roster were a part of the club’s postseason run.
It really was a remarkable year for the PawSox, and to summarize it and 10 plays doesn’t completely do it justice, but, you know, having anything but a top 10 list is just unorthodox. There were several different moments that could have made the cut (Pedro Ciriaco’s 16-game hitting streak and Mauro Gomez winning International League MVP honors are examples).
Hopefully you’ll be reading us during the 2013 season, which can potentially top what was, again, a ridiculous 2012. I, and no doubt Keith, hope you have a wonderful New Year!