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PAWTUCKET â€“ The Pawtucket Red Sox can clinch first place in the I.L. North tonight with a victory over Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and a Lehigh Valley loss.
The PawSox own a two-game lead plus a tiebreaker advantage over Lehigh Valley, which has lost its last four games. Pawtucket has dropped its last two to Rochester. There are four games left in the regular season.
The PawSox will send Matt Fox (9-4, 4.04 ERA) to the mound tonight against Scrantonâ€™s Adam Warren (6-7, 3.57).
On Saturday night, Scranton sends hot prospect Manny Banuelos (2-2, 3.03) against Pawtucketâ€™s Tony Pena Jr. (9-6, 3.40). That game will start at 6:05 p.m. Banuelos threw a 7-inning 1-hit shutout against Pawtucket on Monday night in the first game of a doubleheader.
The Yankees did Pawtucket a huge favor earlier this week by taking three straight games from Lehigh Valley.
If the season were to end today, the PawSox would meet either Gwinnett or Lehigh Valley in the Governorsâ€™ Cup semi-finals. Both of those teams hold identical 76-64 records with four games left in the regular season.
At this point Game 1 would be at the wild-card winnerâ€™s field next Wednesday at 7:05 pm. Gwinnett is the top farm team of the Atlanta Braves. The Braves boast the International Leagueâ€™s best pitcher in Julio Teheran, who won both Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Pitcher awards for the 2011 season.
Teheran is 15-3 but was hit for 6 runs in 3 innings during Thursday nightâ€™s loss to Norfolk. The IL wild card winner hosts the IL North champion (right now the PawSox) for Games 1 & 2 of the playoffs before the North champ is home for Games 3-5 (which would be at McCoy from Sept. 9-11) with the final two games if necessary in the best of 5 series.
If the PawSox win the division and host the final three games they would be September 9 at 7:05 p.m. and the if-necessary games would be on Sept. 10 (6:05 pm) and Sept. 11 (1:05 pm).
If Pawtucket advances to the Governorsâ€™ Cup Finals against either Columbus (the IL West winner) or Durham (the likely IL South winner) then Games 1 & 2 would be away on September 13 and 14 before the PawSox would be home for the final three games (the last two if necessary) from September 15-17 at McCoy (at 7:05 pm, 7:05 pm and 6:05 pm respectively).