Sunday, April 6, 2014

Starting 9: Nine Facts To Take Into The PawSox-Chiefs Series

Two International League North Division rivals will try to hop on or above the .500 fence when the Pawtucket Red Sox host the Syracuse Chiefs in a three-game set this week. Pawtucket is coming off a four-game split with Lehigh Valley while the Chiefs dropped two of three to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. (Inclement weather forced the postponement of the fourth game.)

After two full off days, the Chiefs and RailRiders exchanged shutouts in a Sunday doubleheader, making up at least one of their postponements. Syracuse claimed the early tilt by a 3-0 final before dropping a 5-0 decision.

With Monday night’s series opener, a former Red Sox minor-league manager will see meaningful action at McCoy Stadium for the first time in his career. First-year Syracuse skipper Billy Gardner never donned PawSox garb, but did work under Boston auspices with Lowell, Michigan, Augusta, Trenton and Sarasota from 1996 to 2002.

Gardner was the inaugural manager of the Lowell Spinners in 1996 and led the Augusta Greenjackets to the South Atlantic League title in 1999. He won the 2007 Southern League crown with the Montgomery Biscuits.

Former PawSox pitcher Manny Delcarmen, now in Washington’s system, made his Syracuse debut with one inning of relief against the RailRiders this past Thursday. The Chiefs are Delcarmen’s fifth Triple-A employer since he left the Red Sox late in the 2010 campaign.

Baseball Prospectus ranks Syracuse centerfielder Brian Goodwin third among Nationals prospects. Baseball America has Goodwin in the same echelon plus fellow Chiefs outfielder Steve Souza at No. 10.

Both players are seeing their first doses of International League action this month and off to unflattering starts. Goodwin struck out six times over nine at-bats in the Scranton series while Souza boasts a Blutarsky batting average, though he has walked in three of his first 10 plate appearances, translating two of those into runs.

Another Triple-A newbie, Blake Treinen, is expected to toe the rubber for the Chiefs in Monday night’s series opener. Counterpart Chris Hernandez is on tap to make his 24th start and 33rd career appearances with the PawSox.
The Sox edged the Chiefs in last year’s season series, 9-7, claiming three out of four games in each of Syracuse’s two visits to McCoy.