10 August 2007

Aís, Red Sox set to battle for East crown

By Jason Cook
GateHouse News Service

Brewster - The Chatham Athletics and Yarmouth Dennis Red Sox prepare to face off for the East Division title and a chance at a Cape League championship this weekend.

     The Red Sox, last seasonís defending champs, are the top seed in the East and have been the best team in the league all season long. YD has had the best hitting attack in the league sporting a .277 team average, scoring 241 runs and belting a league-high 41 home runs.

     But the Red Sox arenít all about offense - the pitching staff was arguably the best in the league as well. The Y-D staff led the league in wins (31), had the most saves (18) and was second in team ERA (2.82) to Orleans.

     Individually, the Red Sox are lead by slugging short-stop Gordon Beckham. Beckham paced the Cape League by hitting 9 home runs and tied the league lead in RBI (35) with Dennis Raben of Orleans.

     The Red Sox will most likely pitch the two-headed monster of Eddie Burns (5-1, 2.56 ERA, 41 strikeouts) and Terry Doyle (6-3, 2.35 ERA, 41 strikeouts) in the opening games versus Chatham.

     The Y-D Red Sox are the closest thing the Cape League has seen to a dynasty in some time. They are going for back-to-back league titles and with a championship, would have won three out of the past four. With the offense clicking on all cylinders and stellar pitching in a short series, the Red Sox are the team to beat in these playoffs.

     Aside from Y-D, the second spot in the East playoffs has been up for grabs up until the last few games of the season. With the help of a late season surge (winning 11 out of their last 15 games) the Chatham Aís clinched the final East playoff spot on August 5. 

     The Chatham roster may not be full of league leaders like Y-Dís - but the team has gotten consistent production out of a number of key players. The one-two offensive punch of third basemen Jermaine Curtis and first basemen Allan Dykstra have carried the load for Chatham. The All-Star duo sport on-base percentages of over .400, have knocked in 55 runs combined, have scored 46 runs total and have 119 total bases between them. The Aís staff is lead by ace Tom Millone (6-1, 2.92, 46 strikeouts) and closer Bryan Shaw (35 strikeouts, 3.15 ERA, 7 saves).

     Relishing in the underdog role, Chatham will look to extend their season in hopes of capturing a title for new all-time career wins leader, Coach John Schiffner. It has been a magical season for Schiffner, winning his 335th game as a manager. Upsetting the Red Sox and winning the title would make for a story-book ending to an already thrilling season for the Aís.

     The East playoffs begin this afternoon at Wilson Field in YD at 3 p.m. Saturday the series shifts to Veterans Field in Chatham at 7 p.m. Game three, if necessary, will be at Y-D Sunday afternoon 3 p.m.