Javier Lopez Continues to Shine in Pawtucket


Jul 24, 2009

Very quietly, Javier Lopez is having his way with opposing batters in Pawtucket.

On Sunday, Javier Lopez collaborated with Michael Bowden, T.J. Large and Fernando Cabrera to almost no-hit the Indianapolis Indians. The combined no-no bid was carried to the final out of the game, when Cabrera allowed two hits and two runs. Still, the PawSox won 3-2, and Lopez did his part to contribute to that victory. The left-hander retired seven batters before handing off to Cabrera with one out in the ninth inning.

But that’s only a small glimpse into what has been a fantastic season for the southpaw. 

Demoted from the big league club at the start of the season, Lopez may yet return. In his last 14 appearances, he has allowed only one run over 14 2/3 innings while striking out 12 and walking two.

The Red Sox are taking notice. With the team’s recent difficulties handling left-handed hitters, another lefty specialist in the bullpen may do the club good, and Lopez could be just the man for the job.

“I’ve been throwing the ball well,’’ Lopez told the Providence Journal. “I think I was trying to make so many things happen at the beginning of the year, really trying to bring all my numbers every outing, really trying to bring them down. Now, I’m just working and focusing on working ahead in counts and trying to throw strikes, and it’s worked well for me for a while now.”

Respectable ERA (3.79)? Check.

Thirteen strikeouts in 19 innings? Check.

Low opponents’ batting average (.239)? Check.

It doesn’t stop there. Lopez has a 2.70 ERA against left-handed hitters, a 1.13 ERA when ahead in the count, a 1.69 ERA in June, and a 1.13 ERA in July. Although his ERA against right-handed hitters is 4.38, he is limiting them to a .209 batting average. In McCoy Stadium, opponents manage a meager .094 against him.

What that means is that Javier Lopez can pitch — and pitch well. According to the Journal, PawSox manager Ron Johnson agrees and says his ace in the bullpen is “dealing right now.”

“He’s a guy who had helped our major league club for the last two-and-a-half, three years, and he was in a little funk,” Johnson told the Journal. “I tell you what, looking in his eyes now and watching his body language and the quality of his stuff the last three or four times he’s taken the ball, he’s ready.”

Who’s hot?
Double-A designated hitter Jon Still did more than his share to help the Sea Dogs pound the New Britain Rock Cats 19-1 on Monday. Still went 3-for-6 with two home runs, three runs, and seven RBIs. 

"It was obviously one of those nights where everything went my way,” Still told MLB.com. "I'm just trying to take advantage of the opportunities I have, and I did that."

Still is batting .239 on the season but .294 since July 18 after batting only .137 in June.

Who’s not?
Despite snapping their eight-game losing streak with an almost-no-hitter on Sunday, the Pawtucket Red Sox failed to sustain any momentum, dropping their next three games to the Rochester Red Wings. The PawSox salvaged the last game of the five-game set (the second game was rained out).

Injuries and absences
Right fielder David Marks of the Greenville Drive is on the disabled list (retroactive to June 26) with a strained hamstring. The status of his return is uncertain.

Designated hitter Chris Carter of the Pawtucket Red Sox left Sunday’s game with a sore knee after singling in the bottom of the sixth. In the top of the sixth, he and center fielder Freddy Guzman collided as both tried to catch a fly ball. A stint on the disabled list is unlikely.

Quote of the week
“I don’t like taking breaks. I’d like to get out there every day, if I could. But I think both mentally and physically it was a good breather for me. I got a chance to take some weight off my shoulders. I was pressing a little bit. I could just kind of start over and work on some things. Overall, it was pretty beneficial.’’
–Pawtucket RHP Michael Bowden, in the Providence Journal, on getting 13 days of extended rest

Upcoming series
The Pawtucket Red Sox, Portland Sea Dogs, Salem Red Sox and Lowell Spinners all begin series this weekend. The PawSox square off against the Columbus Clippers in a four-game set at McCoy Stadium. Pawtucket looks to find a groove and lift itself out of the dregs of the International League Northern Division. 

The Sea Dogs host the New Hampshire Fisher Cats for three games starting Friday, while the Salem Red Sox welcome the Potomac Nationals.

The Lowell Spinners began a four-game set with the Vermont Lake Monsters on Thursday. The Spinners will play two games at home and two on the road. 

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