By BRENDAN McGAIR
A wrap up of Pawtucket's 4-3 win over Rochester on Sunday night ...
PAWTUCKET – As the fireworks drummed away at McCoy Stadium on Sunday, two PawSox players were busy shoving their belongings into bags, as infielder Nate Spears and Kyle Weiland will join the Red Sox in Toronto on Monday.
The major-league call-up represents a first for Spears, who batted .248 with eight homers and 45 RBI this season for the PawSox while logging time in the infield and outfield. Originally Spears was listed in Sunday’s lineup but was scratched 30 minutes before first pitch. Drew Sutton took his place.
This will mark Weiland’s second stint with Boston this season. The 24-year-old righthander, who made two starts for the BoSox in July, has totaled 138 1/3 innings in 2011, a sum that figures to make him a candidate to pitch out of the bullpen down the stretch for the Red Sox.
Weiland’s previous record for innings in a season was 132 2/3, which occurred while pitching for Single-A Salem in 2009. He hasn’t made a relief appearance at any level since 2008, when he recorded five outings with Short-Season Lowell.
Weiland appeared on track to start Game 1 of the Governors’ Cup playoffs for the PawSox, an honor that figures to go to Matt Fox now.
There have times in Alex Wilson’s early tenure with the PawSox that either a bad pitch or a questionable call would derail a promising outing. Things changed Sunday after a visit by pitching coach Rich Sauveur and catcher Luis Exposito in the fourth, as Wilson was able to right the ship and provide the PawSox with six innings of three-run ball.
“Rich and Expo were able to point out what I was doing. I could kind of feel it and was able to correct it pretty quickly,” said Wilson, who now sports a 3.46 ERA after four Triple-A starts. “I pounded the zone and was able to get some quick innings.”
Said PawSox manager Arnie Beyeler, “In the past he’s gone three or four innings instead of being able to go six. He made the adjustment and started to do so pitch-to-pitch. He made it into a pretty strong start and gave us exactly what we needed.”
Prior to the game Beyeler mentioned that he hoped some of the PawSox hitters would use the last two games of the regular season as a springboard to get on track heading into the playoffs. Without singling out anyone directly, Beyeler could have easily been talking about third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who came into Sunday hitting .143 since getting promoted from Portland on Aug. 19.
As if on cue, Middlebrooks delivered the game-winning hit, a groundball RBI single to plate Lars Anderson with the go-ahead run in the last of the eighth.
“We’re looking for a little more of an aggressive approach out of him instead of him going up there and sitting back, “Beyeler said. “It’ll come. He’s just to get comfortable and start believing in himself again.”
The phrase “hot streak” and Jose Iglesias haven’t been mentioned in the same sentence – until lately. The shortstop phenom went 2-for-2 Sunday night and just missed connecting for his second home run in the fifth inning when he lined a shot off the top of the right-field wall. He wound up settling for a double.
Iglesias has now hit safely in eight of his last 11 games (.343 batting average). His manager was asked about the opposite field power the youngster flashed.
“He’s going to hit. He’s a strong and he’s going to get better. The thing we’ve got to remember is the age and the experience of this kid," Beyeler offered. "I think if you saw his at-bats at the beginning of the year, you’re starting to see a pretty young player evolve a little bit. He’s going to be a pretty good big league player when it’s all said and done a few years down the road.”
The PawSox will head into the final day of the regular season still not knowing who they will face in the first round of the Governors’ Cup playoffs.
Lehigh Valley remains a game up in the wild-card standings after the IronPigs rallied to defeat Syracuse and Gwinnett held on for a 6-5 win against Charlotte.
Lehigh Valley will automatically claim the wild card slot with a win today regardless of what the outcome of Gwinnett’s game is. A Gwinnett win coupled with a Lehigh Valley loss would set up a one-game play-in game, which would take place Tuesday night in Allentown, Pa.