Opener in Pawtucket Tonight…

CHARLOTTE KNIGHTS (44-35, 1st,  South)
@ PAWTUCKET RED SOX (45-33, 1st
, North)
Pawtucket, RI ~ McCoy Stadium ~ 7:05 PM (Game 1 of 4-game series)
Game #80 ~ Road Game #43

TUE: RHP Matt Zaleski (2-2, 5.02) @ PAW RHP Billy Buckner (1-1, 7.71)

2011SERIES INFO: The Charlotte Knights and Pawtucket Red Sox will begin their 2012 season series tonight at 7:05 p.m. from Pawtucket, RI. Tonight is the opening game of a four-game series between the two first place teams. The two teams split their season series last season, going 4-4 against each other. Each team won three of four on the road.

Drew It Up Well: Infielder Drew Garcia compiled a .333 batting average with two home runs and nine RBIs over eight games last season against Pawtucket. He went 9-27 overall and also added three doubles and three runs scored. Tyler Kuhn hit .294 over four games last season vs. Pawtucket. As a team, Charlotte hit just .238 against the PawSox in 2011.

Battle of the Sox: Tuesday night begins the first battle of the Sox top farm teams this season. The Knights travel to Pawtucket for four games with the Red Sox affiliate. Both teams are in first place in their respective divisions. Pawtucket is 45-33 and one game up on Lehigh Valley in the International League North Division while Charlotte is 44-35 and leads the Norfolk Tides in the IL South by five games. Pawtucket has the second-best record in the IL and the Knights have the fourth-best. Despite their record, the PawSox come into the series having lost eight consecutive games. The two organizations did business together this weekend as long-time Boston player Kevin Youkilis changed his Sox and was traded from the Red Sox to the White Sox for Brent Lillibridge and Zach Stewart. Stewart will start Wednesday’s game for Pawtucket.

Down South: With a 4-2 loss on Monday, the Knights are now five games ahead of their second place foe – the Norfolk Tides. Norfolk, who will make the trek to Charlotte for a three-game series (July 6-8) has won six straight. Durham, who is now tied with the Gwinnett Braves for the bottom spot in the Division, has won five straight games. Gwinnett has now lost 10 straight. Both Gwinnett and Durham are seven games back of Charlotte.

Not Your Father’s Bill Buckner: Billy Buckner will take the mound for the PawSox Tuesday night. Despite the name and the organization that he is playing for, he is not related to Bill Buckner who played for Boston and famously missed the ground ball in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets. This Buckner does have a local connection though as he played his college ball for the University of South Carolina.

Oh Charlie: Charlie Shirek was the hard-luck loser Monday night although he did not pitch badly. Only two of his four runs were earned in his six innings of work and he struck out five Rochester batters. Shirek also did a good job of keeping the ball down in the strike zone Monday night. He recorded twelve groundouts in the game compared to only two flyouts.

Action Jackson: Conor Jackson continues to swing a hot bat since coming off his prolonged stay on the Disabled List. He finished up the last two games of the home series with Columbus by going 4-for-5 in one and smacking three home runs in the other. Monday night he went 2-for-4 with a double to finish the Rochester series 5-for-12 with five walks. Jackson currently is on a six-game hitting streak. He also showed his prowess in the field by throwing out the Red Wings’ Sean Burroughs at second base from right field.

A Road Warrior, Road Runner, and Road Winner: Dan Johnson has 14 of his 18 home runs on the road this season. 10 of Greg Golson’s 16 stolen bases this season have come on the road. Five of Charlie Leesman’s seven wins have come on the road this season.

Mr. 3,000: Matt Swierad, the “Voice” of the Charlotte Knights, called his 3,000th career game on Sunday in Rochester.

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