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'Pigs face Pawtucket in first round showdown

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Lehigh Valley IronPigs (80- 64) vs. Pawtucket Red Sox (81-61)

The IronPigs have done it.

After what seemed like three painstakingly long seasons of failing to reach the .500 mark, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs not only managed to end the season with more wins than losses for the first time in franchise history, they also clinched the team’s first playoff berth on the final day of the regular season.

While the IronPigs are just getting their feet wet when it comes to playoff baseball, the PawSox are no stranger to baseball after the regular season. This will be Pawtucket’s 14th trip to the postseason in its 39th year in the International League. The PawSox have won the Governors’ Cup twice, once in their inaugural year (1973) and again in 1984.

The rosters for both teams should look pretty much the same throughout the five-game, first round series, which will start at Coca-Cola Park with games one and two this Wednesday and Thursday. Each of the big league clubs stated that barring any changes, they will try to leave players put until their minor league teams finish.

Pawtucket, however, will be without one of their top producers on the year, catcher Ryan Lavarnway, who was called up to Boston on Monday. In 61 games this season with Pawtucket, Lavarnway hit .295 while scoring 40 runs, knocking in 55 runs and racking up 18 home runs. He was particularly dangerous in 12 games against the ‘Pigs batting .383, knocking in 17 runs and hitting five home runs.

Lehigh Valley will still have to watch out for shortstop Jose Iglesias, one of the Red Sox’s top prospects and third baseman Hector Luna. Despite hitting only .235 in 101 games with the PawSox this season, Iglesias is strong defensively and starting to heat up at the plate. The 21-year-old is hitting .300 with six runs scored, five runs batted in and a home run in his last 10 games.

Like Iglesias, Luna has been playing well of late, but the third baseman has also put up solid numbers against the ‘Pigs this season. Luna finished the regular season hitting .283 and in his last 10 games, he hit .314 with five runs, eight runs batted in and a home run. Against Lehigh Valley this season he knocked in six runs, hit a home run and batted .328.

PROJECTED STARTING PITCHERS

Wednesday – RHP Matt Fox (PRS) 10-4, 3.96 ERA vs. RHP Dave Bush (LV) 1-2, 3.91 ERA

Thursday – RHP Tony Pena (PRS) 9-6, 3.56 ERA vs. LHP Ryan Edell (LV) 5-5, 3.27 ERA

Friday – RHP Alex Wilson (PRS) 1-0, 3.43 ERA vs. RHP Brian Bass 8-10, 3.81 ERA

Saturday (If nec.) – RHP Scott Mathieson (LV) 2-2, 3.28 vs. N/A

Sunday (If nec.) – RHP Nate Bump (LV) 5-9, 4.97 vs. N/A

PREDICTION

Pawtucket wins series 3-2

Lehigh Valley made some noise giving its fans something to celebrate by clinching a playoff spot, but the ‘Pigs still won’t have the timely hitting they have lacked for most of the year to take them to the next round.

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