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Figueroa snaps Red Sox's title drought

Pawtucket claims its first International League title since 1984
September 13, 2012

While it's not the curse that their big league brethren had to contend with, Triple-A Red Sox fans got to put their own title drought to rest Thursday.

Nelson Figueroa allowed a run on seven hits over six innings and three relievers did not allow a hit the rest of the way as Pawtucket beat Charlotte, 4-1, to sweep the Governors' Cup Finals.

Figueroa's biggest challenge came in the sixth inning when the Knights had runners at the corners with nobody out. But the New York native struck out Seth Loman and Josh Phegley before getting Trayce Thompson to fly out to escape the threat unscathed.

"As soon as I walked into the clubhouse and saw he was starting I said to Tony Thomas, 'I like our chances tonight'," Bryce Brentz said. "You gotta give credit where it's due. He did his normal thing, kept us in the ballgame, that's all you can ask for."

Will Inman, Jose De La Torre and Josh Fields each tossed a hitless inning of relief, with Fields earning his first save.

Pitching was the story of the series as the Red Sox surrendered just three runs in the three games. The bullpen in particular was lethal, not allowing a single hit to the Knights over eight innings.

"Our starters did a great job and our bullpen was outstanding," manager Arnie Beyeler said. "Figueroa and [Billy] Buckner and [Zach] Stewart and [Chris] Hernandez, every night it was somebody different. It was a total team effort."

For some perspective, the last time Pawtucket won an International League title, hitting coach Gerald Perry was in his rookie season with the Atlanta Braves. Roger Clemens, who recently took the mound in the Independent Atlantic League, was a member of that team. Despite the time passage, the fans haven't wavered, according to Beyeler.

"It's very exciting, we have a great group of fans," the veteran manager said. "Playoff baseball is tough to get people to come out for and they waited for the bus when we left the other day. We have great fan support. I believe our late owner, Ben Mondor, is watching over us. I'm just happy we can bring a championship back."

One of the themes of the Red Sox this season was transition. Figueroa, Stewart, De La Torre, Danny Valencia, Andy LaRoche, Pedro Beato and Steven Wright all began the season with different organizations.

None of those players were roster filler either as Valencia tied with Juan Carlos Linares for the team postseason lead with six RBIs. Wright and Stewart were the winners of Game 1 and 2 respectively, and De La Torre did not allow a run in four appearances.

"You know that's Triple-A baseball, you get what you get," Beyeler said. "We had a lot trade guys and free-agent guys mixed with our guys. It was just a bunch of guys that went out and played hard and did a great job. Just a good, fun group of guys to watch play."

While Brentz, who was 0-for-4 in the title game, has spent less than a month with Pawtucket, he was appreciative of the opportunity he got in September.

"Getting called up to participate in the playoff push, making the playoffs and winning it is very special," Boston's No. 4 prospect said. "Baseball is a funny game, you never know when you're going to get a chance to win a ring and it was a great experience for me."

Che-Hsuan Lin singled home a run and scored another while Jeremy Hazelbaker hit an RBI triple.

Pawtucket will play the winner of the Pacific Coast League Finals in the Triple-A National Championship on Sept. 18 in Durham.


Robert Emrich is a contributor to