Saturday, August 13, 2011

Starting Nine: PawSox-Braves pregame tidbits

1. Upon taking the mound at Coolray Field Saturday evening, Kyle Weiland will seek his first winning decision at any level since he and the PawSox surpassed the host Rochester Red Wings, 6-3, on Independence Day. Since then, Weiland has endured a cumulative two losses and three no-decisions between a two-start promotion to Boston and his return to Triple-A late last month.

2. Weiland previously lost to Gwinnett, 2-0, on May 11. His line that evening consisted of 6.0 innings-pitched, two hits, two earned-runs, four walks and a strikeout. A third-inning walk, a double and a single in unanswered succession proved the fatal blemish for Pawtucket.

3. Weiland enters this start with a team-best 3.23 ERA, also good for No. 8 on the International League leaderboard. His Gwinnett counterpart, Todd Redmond, is No. 3 under that heading with a 2.91 average. Weiland and Redmond are also two of only seven I.L. hurlers with at least 110 strikeouts on the year.

4. Somewhat eclipsed by Che-Hsuan Lin and the rest of the eleventh-hour, ninth-inning offense Friday night was the way reliever Jason Rice earned credit for his third win in a span of 11 days. Although he finished his night with a newfangled 3-2 deficit glowering upon his team, Rice retired seven of 10 challengers in 2.1 innings-pitched. In addition, he charged up three strikeouts for the second time in as many relief outings.

5. Lin will seek to build upon his Friday night heroics and continue to thaw out the recently chilled, somewhat idled bat of his. Lin’s game-winning single amounted to his first RBI since July 28, ending a drought in that department that spanned 41 straight at-bats and 55 plate-appearances (14 walks). Lin has hit safely once in each of his last three games and in four of his last six.

6. Other aspiring streak-stokers include Lars Anderson, who has hit in each of his last nine games-played and Hector Luna, whose 4-4 performance on Friday prolonged a five-game streak.

7. Conversely, Ryan Lavarnway is vying to unshackle his fetters. After whiffing twice and going 0-for-5 in his first encounter with Gwinnett’s stingy pitching staff, the once-otherworldly slugger is suddenly batting 4-for-29 with nine strikeouts in the month of August.

8. Similarly, Brett Carroll has just rounded out his first week in Pawtucket’s clubhouse, seeing action in seven games. He made a sound first impression with a walkoff hit in his first outing and went a respectable 4-for-13 over his first three games. But since then, he has gone 0-for-12 with one RBI by virtue of a sacrifice at Charlotte Thursday night.

9. Outfielder Ronald Bermudez, demoted to Double-A Portland primarily to make room for Ryan Kalish, is hitting 5-for-12 as of three starts with the SeaDogs. He had his first hitless outing on Friday versus Erie, going 0-for-3, but did reach base by drawing a walk.