The same night the Boston Red Sox took on the World Champion Chicago Cubs, the Pawtucket Red Sox looked to get their season going in the right direction. They had lost five of their last seven games and needed some more offense to climb out of a tie for last place in the division. They got exactly that against the Gwinnett Braves. The Sox were swept in two games in Georgia last weekend when these teams faced off in a rain shortened series.
The Friday night meeting at McCoy Stadium featured several major league veterans and top prospects. Robbie Ross, Blake Swihart, and Rusney Castillo have all seen time at Fenway Park. Ryan Howard recently signed a minor league deal with Atlanta after a decorated career in Philadelphia. He was the DH in the game. And Brock Holt started his rehab assignment after going on the Disabled List for a bad case of vertigo.
Pawtucket got exactly the start they wanted in the series. Kyle Kendrick was 0-3 with an ERA over six at the start of the game. He proceeded to dominate the Braves, throwing seven shutout innings, striking out five, walking two, and only surrendering one hit. That hit was a Ryan Howard single to center to lead off the second inning. After that, Gwinnett never got in rhythm.
Kendrick’s counterpart looked good in the first inning. Austin Blair recorded a 1,2,3 opening frame. After that, he ran into a buzz saw. He surrendered four runs in the second, highlighted by a Jantzen Witte bases loaded triple and a Deven Marrero RBI double. Things did not improve as Blair was chased in the third. Rusney Castillo walked, Sam Travis singled, and Blake Swihart blasted a home run to right field to make it 7-0 in the 3rd.
Pawtucket did not let up the attack as Gwinnett’s bullpen took over. Wes Parsons gave up two runs in the fourth. Marrero and Holt reached to lead off the inning. Marrero scored on a Steve Selsky fielder’s choice and Holt scored on a Swihart single. Brock Holt got the final run of the game home for the Paw Sox, driving in Ryan Court in the fifth inning and making the game 10-0.
After Hendricks walked off the hill, Robbie Ross relieved him in the 8th. He only looked ok. He gave up a hard double to Rio Ruiz to lead off the inning and Blake Lalli hit a long fly ball to center field to end the shutout on a sacrifice fly. Gwinnett got no closer after that 8th inning strike.
Gwinnett and Pawtucket will resume the series with a doubleheader tomorrow afternoon at McCoy Stadium. First pitch for the day is at 4:05 in Pawtucket, RI.