Opening night at McCoy Stadium was a winner, all the way around. Pawtucket topped Rochester 2-1, thanks to some great pitching and a timely two run triple by J.C. Linares. The Triple A rookie blasted a shot that scored Lars Anderson and Drew Sutton with two outs in the sixth inning. His Cuban compatriot, Jose Iglesias also chipped in with a couple of singles on a night when offense was at a premium.
What wasn’t lacking, was tremendous pitching. Alfredo Aceves was scheduled to start, but was lifted about an hour before game time. We hear that Aceves is being promoted to Boston for ailing Matt Albers. Scott Atchison set the tone, striking out eight batters in four and two thirds innings. Atchison was a great call by manager Arnie Beyeler. The veteran is a leader and was unfazed by his last minute assignment. Atch allowed the only Rochester run. The bullpen was spectacular. Rich Hill followed and earned the victory with 2 and a third shutout innings. The lefty side-armer whiffed 4 hitters. He allowed just three hits. 2007 American League All Star, Hideki Okajima was perfect. He retired the Red Wings in order in the eighth and Michael Bowden registered his first save with a 1-2-3 ninth. The four pitchers, who all could have legitimate claims to belonging in Boston, all raised their stock.
It was fun to see Jeff Bailey in town. The 2008 I.L. MVP, who spent all or parts of 6 seasons with the PawSox is playing first base for the Wings. No doubt, Bails was glad to be on hand for the touching and stirring pre-game ceremonies that honored the late Ben Mondor. Ben passed away in October. There were bagpipes, a 21 gun salute and a moment of silence. Perhaps the most poignant moment took place when Mike Tamburro and Lou Schwechheimer presented Bens’ wife Madeline a dozen roses. Mrs. Mondor gave one of the flowers to a PawSox batboy, who laid it across home plate. Tribute was also paid to Rhode Islander, Lou Gorman. Gorman, the former General Manager of the Red Sox, died last week at the age of 82. He was the architect of the Boston team that won the 1986 American League pennant. Also recognized, were the police, fire and military personnel that gave their lives over the last year.
Really, it couldn’t have been a better day. I’m sure that somewhere, Ben Mondor was smilling.