The Red Sox get their postseason underway Thursday afternoon against the Chatham Anglers at 4 p.m.
By: Andrew Constant / @andrew_constant
The 2012 Cape Cod League Playoffs begin Thursday afternoon, when the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox host the Chatham Anglers in Game 1 of their best-of-three series at 4 p.m.
The Red Sox have home field advantage in the series based on their final standings in the East Division. Y-D finished with a record of 25-19, giving them 50 points for the summer, while Chatham compiled 44 points after going 21-21-2.
Chatham is led by Andrew Knapp, who finished the regular season with the top batting average, home run total and RBI mark of any Angler player. The sophomore from the University of California-Berkeley hit .293 with eight home runs and 29 RBI and was selected to the East Division?s All-Star team. After the All-Star Game on July 28, Knapp went 10-32 with three doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI ? all team highs.
In the teams? final regular season meeting on Aug. 1, Knapp hit two home runs off Y-D starter Rick Knapp ? no relation between the two ? and supplied all four RBI for Chatham in the game.
Alex Calbick gives the Anglers a second power bat in the middle of their lineup behind Knapp. The infielder from Maine struggled with his batting average all summer, but hit five home runs and drove in 19 runs for an otherwise stagnant offense.
But Chatham has a good collection of starting pitchers that have the potential to limit the powerful Y-D lineup in this series.
Michael Wagner, who?s expected to take the ball in Game 1 Thursday, compiled a 2-2 record over six starts this summer, with a 1.57 ERA in 34.1 innings. Though he hasn?t registered a victory since July 4, Wagner hasn?t allowed more than three runs in any start this season. Wagner?s last time out against Brewster on Aug. 2, he did not allow an earned run over seven innings, striking out eight and only yielding four hits, as Chatham won 4-2.
Thomas Lawrence is another starter that gives Chatham options in the series, as he enters the postseason with a 2-1 record and a 3.55 ERA. Ryan Thompson and Louie Lechich, whose efforts on the final night of the regular season helped Chatham gain the third seed, are expected to see time on the mound against Y-D.
Y-D?s offense, ranked near the top of the league in most categories, should present all kinds of problems for Chatham in the series. No team scored more runs this summer than the Red Sox; nobody had as many hits, doubles or RBI and Y-D totaled the most bases as a team amongst the 10 Cape League clubs.
Robert Pehl leads the Red Sox in both power categories, clubbing six home runs and collecting 38 RBI, but he?s far from the only Y-D hitter with the potential to take over a game with the bat.
Sam Travis finished the regular season with 35 RBI and a .339 average, while Zak Blair flirted with a .400 batting average for much of the summer before cooling lately to finish at .338.
Morgan Mickan, a late addition to the Red Sox roster, has supplied punch at the top of the order, swatting his way to a .438 with two homers and nine RBI to go along with nine walks and 14 hits in only 11 games. In fact, the players added to the Y-D roster in the final three weeks of the regular season have given the Red Sox a boost in more ways than one.
Danny Diekroger, a shortstop from Stanford, has gotten into six games since coming to the Cape, hitting .200 with a home run and two RBI, but his impact on the Y-D defense goes beyond the numbers. Since joining the team, Alex Blandino, the team?s pivot in the middle of the diamond at short all summer, has shifted back to his natural position of third base, where he stars as Diekroger?s teammate at Stanford.
With Blandino now entretched at third base, Blair has shifted to center field, where he made two highlight-reel catches in the Red Sox loss to Orleans earlier this week.
But it?s another Blair that could steal the show for Y-D in the postseason. Aaron Blair, the East Division?s starting pitcher in the All-Star Game, enters the playoffs with a 6-0 record and a sparkling 1.17 ERA. Though he hasn?t started for Y-D since the 20th of July, Blair has been dominant all summer long, going at least five innings in every start and not allowing more than three runs in any appearance.
Andrew Thurman will start Game 1 for Y-D after winning two of his last five starts. Thurman?s shining performance of the summer came on July 22, when he shut out the Falmouth Commodores over nine dominating innings. He allowed only three hits and struck out 13 batters without walking a batter. Since then, he lost a tough-luck decision to Cotuit, allowing just one run in 6.1 sharp innings in a steady rainfall, and started on Aug. 4 versus Brewster. In the latter start, Thurman only went three innings, but in his time on the mound, he gave up just two hits and struck out four.
The series will shift to Chatham?s Veterans Park on Friday night for Game 2, with a third and deciding game to be held at Red Wilson Field on Saturday afternoon, if necessary.?