Sunday, May 4, 2014

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

For the second half of their May-opening homestand, the Pawtucket Red Sox will go from facing the best of the I.L. West to engaging the worst of the West. The Indianapolis Indians leave Rhode Island in the wake of a four-game split still leading the league with a 20-10 record. Conversely, the Toledo Mud Hens come in at 11-19, putting them at the bottom of their four-team sector.

Despite their record, which amounts to the third-lowest winning percentage in the league, the Hens have an unsurpassed 29 home runs on the year. Although, 10 of those dingers are not in their dugout as J.D. Martinez has stuck with the parent Detroit Tigers since an April 21 call-up.

Right fielder Ezequiel Carrera leads all members of Toledo’s active roster with a .302 batting average.

The Hens have mustered three runs or fewer in each of their last five games, going 1-4 in that span. Between 14-3 and 1-0 losses at Syracuse on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, they are on a 14-inning scoreless skid.

The Sox and Hens crammed their entire 2013 season series into a single eight-day slew last summer, starting in Toledo and finishing at McCoy. The Mud Hens sandwiched their lone two wins around six straight Pawtucket triumphs June 22-27.

Last season’s 16-3 trouncing of Toledo on June 25 was the PawSox’ most explosive and lopsided victory in 2013. Brandon Workman garnered credit for the win, all nine home batters registered at least one hit, seven drove in at least one hit and eight crossed the plate at McCoy that evening.

If he is activated between now and Thursday’s series finale, this week could be Brayan Villareal’s first chance to confront his former allies. The 26-year-old reliever played 53 games for Toledo over two-plus seasons until a three-team trade last July 30 saw his rights transferred from the Tigers to the Red Sox. Villareal is currently on the seven-day disabled list and has not seen action since April 13.

The Sox have another former Detroit farmhand in Justin Henry. Henry’s Triple-A career consists of 137 games played with the Mud Hens and six against them in Pawtucket attire. He hit 7-for-234 with three doubles, three walks, three strikeouts, four runs scored and five RBIs in the 2013 season series. 

Former PawSox catcher Luis Exposito is with the Hens after spending all of 2013 and the better part of 2013 with the Norfolk Tides. To date, his Toledo tenure has yielded a .279 batting average with two home runs, five RBIs and seven runs scored in 14 games played.