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Minor Lines 4/8-4/9: Paxton Place

It’s been a busy holiday weekend for our minor league teams, with some high points and some low points... and James Paxton pitched!

Boston Red Sox Spring Training 2023 Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Much to my surprise, I can now add “baseball lower than Triple-A level” next to “grocery stores,” “malls,” and “that weird mechanic in town everyone uses but no one knows why” on the list of places that are closed on Easter Sunday. Just (roughly) three games per league were played in the lower minors... something about the mascots having to be on Main Street of the team’s town for the annual Easter Egg Hunt and then having to take a nap before clearing exorbitant amounts of ham or mashed potatoes. I suspect geography has something to do with it, because I’m not entirely certain too many southerners would give up Easter Sunday festivities to go watch some baseball played by guys two years from making a Major League roster. But my theory could be easily debunked by the fact that, among the teams hosting a game today were Mississippi, Pensacola, and Richmond. So I guess I’ll just wake up in a cold sweat thinking of the real reason tonight. But that’s enough of my rambling. You guys get the whole weekend’s recaps!


Saturday: W, 13-4

Scoring was not at a premium on Saturday, as Matt Dermody held the Buffalo Bisons scoreless in five full innings, allowing just three baserunners against his former organization. Jake Faria struggled a little more against Triple-A bats then a guy with years of Major League experience should, but the real story is the tenacity of the bats. Seven WooSox players recorded hits, five recorded more than one, and Daniel Palka had three himself, including a first-inning home run. Also notable is Jarren Duran continuing to show his fancy footwork with two doubles in the leadoff spot. We all saw that scary injury to the Hottest Batter on the Planet, Adam Duvall, and Duran tracks as the most likely replacement to him on the 26-man roster. The game gave the WooSox a 3-0 series lead in a best-of-five breakneck pace series that saw all five games played in a 48-hour span due to inclement weather in Western New York earlier in the week.

Sunday, Game 1: L, 1-2

The WooSox were not as lucky this afternoon, allowing recent Red Sox fan favorite (hahahahahaha) Brad Peacock to get a win over them on Easter. As I often went to the bathroom during Brad Peacock pitching appearances in 2021, I would imagine from the box score that a lot of this game would have been spent in the bathroom, as well. It was scoreless going into the seventh and final frame, thanks in part to the squandering a Jorge Alfaro triple in the first. In the 7th, Ryan Fitzgerald hit a solo shot off of Peacock, who was then on the hook for the decision, and the 35-year-old reliever got bailed out by Ryan Sheriff, who allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning. Alfaro and Fitzgerald were the only WooSox to record hits in this abbreviated game; they each had two. Sure, the lack of bats soiled a Brandon Walter masterclass in run prevention that saw him hold the Bisons scoreless by himself for 5-and-two-thirds innings of the 7-inning game. But, seeing as Worcester had just scored 13 runs, like, 15 hours ago, we can’t be too worried that some of these guys will end up on the major league roster, right? Probably not.

Sunday, Game 2: L, 1-2 (again)

Or can we? 1-2, again? Is this the world’s worst case of de ja vu? Wait, no, not de ja vu at all, despite the score... because James Paxton played this game! The game plan is likely that he receives a call-up after a few more Triple-A starts rehabbing a hamstring injury that followed some compounding issues throughout, well, some incredibly frustrating years. And honestly, he’s a guy who will help make Boston’s pitching much deeper when he finally does make his debut at Fenway, in the event, of course, that he stays healthy!

The pitch count from the lefty was kept low, at just 58 pitches, in three full innings of work. But he looked pretty good! Two hits, two walks, three strikeouts, and most importantly, no runs. The only apparent complaint here is that only 31 of Big Maple’s pitches were strikes. But this team has shown us that depth — and, more importantly, good depth — can be needed at the blink of an eye. So having him (and Brayan Bello and Garrett Whitlock!) back in the rotation perhaps in a matter of weeks is something to get excited about, even if the WooSox’s three defensive errors and three hits on the day don’t.


Saturday: W, 13-3

The only thing being hunted more than the eggs at Hadlock Field was home plate, as eight Sea Dogs starters recorded hits in this one against the Rumble Ponies. On the Ceddane Rafaela watch, he went 2-5 and stole a base. Alex Binelas hit a clutch 2-run double in the 3rd as the team never looked back. Nine runs in the sixth inning, opening the game up? Don’t mind if I do!


Saturday: Rained Out

Womp womp.


Saturday: W, 10-2

Salem’s pitching was a liability in the first two games of their opening series against Delmarva, allowing 26 combined runs on Thursday and Friday. Safe to say, they recovered on Saturday. Center fielder Allan Castro might as well be called Allan Duvall (too soon, too soon) the way he’s off to a .462 start, as he again had a multi-hit game for the Salem Red Sox. Salem exploded on the Shorebirds’ relievers, as they scored at least a run in each inning from the fourth to the eighth. I get excited when I see players who are 20 thrive at the plate, and Lyonell James (the 20-year-old in question) going 3-for-4 is no exception. Finally, Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz (19!) held a no-hitter through nine outs, but walked five. Here’s hoping he gets that control under, well... control! But, at least the Red Sox affiliates controlled things this holiday weekend.