Ryan L. Fox
On a calm, sunny Friday evening the Pawtucket Red Sox played host to the Gwinnett Stripers in the first game of a 3-game weekend series. Earlier in the month, the PawSox played the Stripers down in Lawrenceville, Georgia, in a 3-game weekend series but the Stripers ended up sweeping. Taking the mound for the PawSox was LHP Matthew Kent (0-0, 3.60) as the Stripers countered with LHP Kelly Allard (2-2, 4.00).
There was a special guest in the house at McCoy Stadium. Boston Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia was with the team as he was continuing his MLB injury rehab assignment for knee discomfort. This was actually Pedroia’s 2nd time rehabbing with the PawSox in 2 years as he was with the team for 5 games in May of 2018 while rehabbing for his knee. He joined fellow Red Sox players 2B/Util. Brock Holt and LHP Brian Johnson, both in their own rehab assignment with the PawSox.
The PawSox were able to get the game’s first score.
First SS Mike Miller lead the inning off with a leadoff single followed by DH Brock Holt, still rehabbing with the PawSox, drawing a walk. After Pedroia struck out swinging after a 6-pitch at-bat, LF Sam Travis blooped a single into shallow right field to load the bases. Then CF Rusney Castillo singled into left to score one run and then 1B Josh Ockimey hit a sac fly into deep center field to score another run to give the PawSox the early 2-0 lead after an inning of play.
However that lead immediately disappeared in the top 2nd.
After Kent walked Stripers DH Alex Jackson to start the inning, he faced off against RF Travis Demeritte. Facing a 2-2 count, Demeritte knocked the next Kent pitch he faced over the left field wall for a 2-run home run to tie the game at 2-2. After the next Stripers batter flew out to center, they got the next 2 batters on base for SS Jack Lopez. Lopez then knocked a 454-ft home run out of McCoy to give the Stripers their first lead of the contest at 5-2.
They then tacked on a solo home run by LF Duvall in the top 3rd as the lead grew to 6-2.
The PawSox were able to claw back in the following bottom 3rd.
After Holt flew out to center, Pedroia was able to get on base via single. However he hit the ball off of Allard’s leg in the process but the Stripers pitcher was able to walk it off and remain in the game. Next batter in the inning was Travis as he launched a double deep into center. Pedroia was able to score all the way from 1st to make it 6-3. However Travis tried to extend his double into a triple but ended up getting thrown out at 3rd instead.
In the top 4th, after Kent got the lead off man to ground out to 3rd, he proceeded to load the bases with Stripers baserunners. PawSox manager Billy McMillon decided that was enough as he went to the bullpen, bringing out RHP Domingo Tapia. Tapia got the first batter he faced to pop out to 3rd in foul territory but ended up walking Duvall to bring in a run to make it 7-3. Tapia got the next batter he faced to ground out to end the inning and the scoring threat.
In the bottom 4th, RF Bryce Brentz lead the inning off by getting on base via fielding error by Lopez with no outs in the inning. Two batters later, 3B Jantzen Witte came to the plate. Facing a 1-1 count, Witte took the next pitch he saw 414-ft into center field for a 2-run home run to make it 7-5.
That’s where the score stood for the remainder of the game as both team’s bullpen held the other team’s batters in check.
The PawSox had a chance in the bottom 9th as Miller lead the inning off with a 2-out infield single. Holt then followed that up with a single into left field to put runners on 1st and 2nd with 2 outs. However 2B Josh Tobias, who came in the game for Pedroia, ended up striking out as the Stripers took the opening game of the weekend series with the final score of 7-5.
For the rehabbing Red Sox players, Pedroia ended up going 1-for-3 with a strike out and a run scored. He played for the first 5 innings of the game before being lifted prior to the start of the 6th inning with Tobias taking over for him. Holt, went 2-for-5 with a strikeout, a walk drawn, and a run scored.
The next game will take place on the following Saturday with the first pitch being at 6:05 p.m. in the evening pending weather. The Stripers will have RHP Patrick Weigel make his first appearance with the team. For the PawSox, RHP Teddy Stankiewicz (1-2, 3.00) will take the mound in the rubber match.
After the game, PawSox manager Billy McMillon had his post game Q & A session with the PawSox media to talk about his team's performance in the game, on Pedroia's rehab, and more.
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