SOX ON DECK: Bailey, Carter, Thurston, Zink pace PawSox to playoffs

Evan Brunell@evanbrunellFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2008

And you wonder why the Pawtucket Red Sox have set a franchise record for most victories (83, prior to Friday’s game versus Buffalo)?

Look no further than the International League All-Star team — especially at the top.

Jeff Bailey, who’s played outfield and first base and has served as the designated hitter, was voted the Most Valuable Player — the fifth in team history.

The last PawSox to win MVP honors was first baseman Pat Dodson in 1986.

Knuckleballer Charlie Zink, who’s enjoying a career year, was voted the Most Valuable Pitcher.

Rounding out a quartet of selections are second baseman Joe Thurston and outfielder Chris Carter.

Bailey, who currently is in his third stint with Boston this season, still leads the I.L. in runs scored (88); is third in slugging percentage (.562); is third in on-base percentage (.405); and is tied for fourth in home runs (25).

The 29-year-old Bailey’s true value is reflected in the fact he’s hit .333 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

Zink, who recently turned 29, is tied for the I.L. lead with 14 victories and is second in ERA with a mark of 2.92. He’s also struck out 103 and walked just 46 in 166 1/3 innings.

The right-hander is the sixth Pawtucket pitcher to win this award, the last being Bronson Arroyo in 2003.

Zink went one stretch of 2 ½ months between losses. Moreover, he’s been incredibly effective away from McCoy Stadium as his 9-0 record and 2.30 ERA would attest.

As a result, Zink earned his first career major league start earlier this month against Texas and came away with a no-decision as Boston posted a wild 19-17 victory over the Rangers.

With Zink anchoring Pawtucket’s mound staff - along with David Pauley - the PawSox rank second in the I.L. with a 3.71 ERA.

Bailey and Zink are the first teammates to win the MVP and Pitcher Awards since Norfolk’s Butch Huskey and Jason Isringhausen did so in 1995.

Thurston earned All-Star honors for the second time in his career (the first was in 2006 when he was with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre).

Without question he’s been a major factor in Pawtucket’s offense.

Currently he ranks third in hitting (.314) and is tied for fifth in runs scored (81).

What makes Thurston’s stats all the more noteworthy is the fact that, even though he swings from the left side, he hits left-handed pitchers better than right-handers (.351 vs. .298).

Thurston’s late-game production is off the charts, considering he’s hitting .400 in the ninth inning and .714 in seven extra-inning at-bats.

Carter, who’s playing his first full season in the I.L., established himself as one of the league’s premier hitters.

Batting primarily at cleanup, he’s belted 24 home runs and has driven in a team-leading 81 runs.

Carter made his major league debut earlier this season and went 2-for-3 in a June game against Tampa Bay.


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