The International League’s second season begins tonight as two best of five playoff series gets underway. One of those series kicks-off at McCoy as the PawSox host the Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees in game one of the opening round. LHP Chase Wright (2-1, 2.41 ERA) pitches for the Yankees. He’ll be opposed by RHP Charlie Zink (14-6, 2.84 ERA) for Pawtucket.
The two teams split their 16 match-ups throughout the regular season, with each club also 4-4 in their respective home stadium. Scranton and Pawtucket last met in the playoffs in 1992 with Scranton winning the opening round series 3 games to 1.
It is with great disappointment that I announce that my work and family schedule is keeping away from the stadium for the two games in Pawtucket. Here is a brief look at the match-up nonetheless…
Scranton/Wilkes Barre Yankees (88-56)
The Yankees tied with the Louisville Bats for the best record in the International League. It is the third consecutive season that Scranton has ended the year with the league’s best mark. Despite their success, Scranton has not gotten past the first round of the playoffs since 2001 and has never captured the IL title.
Manager Dave Miley’s squad is an impressive 72-2 when leading after seven innings. The Yankees are also an impressive 26-13 in one-run games.
Pitching has been the Yankees strength, leading the IL in ERA (3.67) and fewest hits allowed (1,171) . Wright made six starts for the Yankees in 2008. He suffered his only loss of the season in his last outing, giving up three runs on seven hits over 6 2/3 innings last Thursday at Buffalo. Wright compiled a 8-2 record for Double A Trenton, with an ERA of 2.96 over 16 starts.
Pawtucket Red Sox (85-58)
The PawSox completed the 2008 season by garnering the most wins in franchise history. This is the first post season appearance for the club since 2003. At 46-26 they tied with Scranton and Rochester for the best home record in the league.
The PawSox have had great balance all season, leading the International League in runs scored (752), while giving up the fewest (579). Pawtucket also led the league with a .983 team fielding percentage.
Zink enters the game as the International League’s Pitcher of the Year. He made 28 starts in 2008, with two complete games and one shutout. He also lost his last outing, giving up only one run over eight innings last Friday against Buffalo.
The PawSox will be without their top two power hitters as Jonathan Van Every and league MVP Jeff Bailey have been promoted to Boston. They do have some power with outfielders Chris Carter (24 HR) and Jason Lane (18 HR). IF/OF Joe Thurston brings his .316 season batting average into this series.