Thursday, June 30, 2011

PawSox pitching preview

Home hurler
Matt Fox will take a second look at his former team, which tagged him with an “L” on April 23 when the Red Wings nipped the PawSox, 9-7, at Frontier Field. Fox was shelled that night with five earned-runs on five hits, including two solo home runs, in 2.1 innings of unsuccessful relief.

Fox, who went 6-9 in 21 starts and 35 total appearances with Rochester last year, will make his 11th start and 18th overall appearance for Pawtucket Thursday evening at McCoy Stadium. Of his last two outings, both were starts that saw him post an iffy 9.00 ERA with four earned runs in 4.0 innings-pitched.

Fox is on the immediate heels of a no-decision in Indianapolis last Saturday, wherein he logged no strikeouts for the first time all season and distributed five walks before the bullpen bailed him out en route to a 6-5 win.

Fox has gone seven consecutive appearances without a decision and has yet to go more than five innings in any of his first three starts this calendar month.

On the other hand, dating back to his loss to the Wings, Fox is technically undefeated. He has put in 11 appearances since then, seven as a starter and four as a reliever, and twice defeated the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (May 5 and May 15).

Guest starter
Kyle Gibson enters Wednesday night’s start with the heftiest time sheet on Rochester’s pitching staff. He leads all active Red Wing hurlers with 81.1 innings-pitched on the year.

Yet save for a set of back-to-back wins that made him the International League’s Pitcher of the Week at the end of May, the peerless level of labor has hardly translated glamorously. Gibson (3-7) will try to avoid going winless in the month of June, wherein he has already lost four straight starts and received a no-decision in last Saturday’s 10-3 loss to Syracuse.

Gibson, a second-year pro in his first full year at the Triple-A level, has yet to face the PawSox in his career.

While Fox bookends the month by toeing the rubber today (having also made a relief appearance on June 1 versus Norfolk), the Sox as a whole will try to end June the same way they started it –with a four-game winning streak.

Should the Sox prevail on Thursday, Pawtucket will pole-vault over the loser of the Gwinnett-Louisville game for second place in the IL’s wild card leaderboard. The G-Braves and Bats enter their Thursday bout in a knot for first place and 0.5 games ahead of the PawSox.

In turn, if the PawSox can sweep the Red Wings come Friday, a split between the Braves and Bats in the remainder of their series will have the Rhode Islanders in the playoff picture.