Techinally, the PawSox’ off-season started after a crushing 3-1 defeat to the LeHigh Valley IronPigs on September 10, but with some of the team’s players making appearances with Boston during its brutal month of September, it would only be fitting to start a complete off-season review at the end of the Major League season (the play-offs would have made a different scenario).
Unlike its parent club 46.9 miles north, the PawSox can claim this season as a superb one, backed by its first IL North Division title since 2003 and the third most wins in franchise history (81-61). One can still draw parallels between the little boys’ season from one of the smallest states and the big boys, that represents much more than the city that is named on their away jerseys.
It was a middling start of the 2011 season for the team, combining for a 26-25 in April and May (13-10, 13-15 respectively), but once the cool days of spring transformed to the hot, muggy days of summer, the PawSox revamped to the team they were excepted to be during the off-season.
During June and July, the PawSox posted a 34-24 record (17-11, 17-13 respectively) with the offense combining for a .251 average, 53 homeruns and pitchers combining for a 3.76 ERA, as apposed to April and May average of ; in June, the pitching posted the best ERA than any month of the season, excluding September, with a 3.12 ERA. The success during these months allowed the team to mount the comeback over the IronPigs for the division title. On June 14, the PawSox dropped to .500 (32-32) and 8 1/2 games out of first in the IL North, but then claimed a 49-29 record for the rest of the season (78 games). It may not be as monumental as what the Tampa Bay Rays did to the Red Sox, but it was still a huge feat to overcome, especially because the PawSox lost so much with the season-ending injuries to Ryan Kalish and JC Linares.
A first-rate August and September secured the PawSox’ comeback; in 33 games, the team was 21-12 (4-0 in September). Offense and pitching were not the storyline during those months, it was the defense. The 2011 PawSox etched their names into the club’s record book in terms of their skills with the glove. Their season total of 84 errors and a fielding percentage of .984 (third highest in IL this season) erased the 2008 team, who ironically was the last Pawtucket team to make it to the play-offs, from said record book under the “Fewest Errors” and “Highest Fielding Percentage” category; the 2008 team made 88 errors in their season, with a .983 fielding percentage. “Most Double-Plays” has also been claimed by the 2011 team (151), expunging a record older than me (19 years) set by the 1992 squad (148), conveying how much of an affect Jose Iglesias’ gold-glove cailber defense was to the team. In the beginning of August (1-10) alone, the team tied a record, set in 1994, by playing eight consective games without conceding an error. As the proverbial saying goes, defense wins championships, but the PawSox just feel short.
In the semi-final of the Governor’s Cup, the PawSox were embarrassingly swept by their division rivals , the LeHigh Valley IronPigs, a team which the PawSox finished two games up on to end the season, 3-0. A championship in Pawtucket for the first time since 1984 and the first play-off series win since 2008, would have had a nice tone to a team that claimed so much in one season, but the other magical story in the division came out on top (LeHigh had its best season in franchise history).
The PawSox will certainly be favorites going into next season, which starts on April 5 at McCoy against the Buffalo Bisons. Don’t think for a second that this review is over though, check daily for a review of every player that donned a PawSox uniform, including those Boston who rehabbed from Boston! You can follow me on Twitter at @KPereira15 and subscribe to this page up top.