The future Red Sox and future Blue Jays are taking the chase for a playoff spot into the last week of the season.
The New Hampshire Fisher Cats enter their final homestand of the season tonight against the Portland Sea Dogs. The teams are both trying to track down the Trenton Thunder for the second playoff berth in the Eastern Division.
The Fisher Cats bounced back from a loss at Reading on Friday night and another in the day portion of a doubleheader on Saturday with a win on Saturday night, 3-1, and Sunday, 7-3, to stay in the hunt.
They are three games behind Trenton after the Thunder beat Portland, 3-2, on Sunday. Portland is two games behind New Hampshire.
The Fisher Cats, 66-67, and Sea Dogs play at 6:35 each of the next four nights.
The Fisher Cats then move on to division-leading Binghamton for four games to close out the regular season.
The Sea Dogs are set up to help themselves, or perhaps even the Fisher Cats, down the stretch. They finish up with five games at home against Trenton, starting on Friday.
The Sea Dogs are expected to lead off this series with their two newest left-handers, both up from Class-A Salem, against a couple of New Hampshire right-handers.
Mickey Pena is slated to go tonight for Portland against New Hampshire’s Marcus Walden and Henry Owens is tabbed to go on Tuesday against Marcus Stroman.
Owens, 20, is 6-foot-6 and 205 pounds and is Boston’s fourth-rated prospect, according to the web site soxprospects.com.
He is 2-0 with a 1.50 earned run average in four starts for the Sea Dogs and through 18 innings has allowed 10 hits, struck out 32 and walked 13 batters. He has not faced New Hampshire.
Owens was Boston’s first-round pick in 2011 and Pena was taken in the sixth round the same season.
Pena, 22, is not as highly touted as his teammate, but he has already proven himself to the Fisher Cats.
He faced New Hampshire in his first Eastern League start on Aug. 21 and gave up five hits and no runs in his seven innings.
Portland comes back with right-hander Matt Barnes on Wednesday against righty Austin Bibens-Dirkx (3-4, 2.11 ERA).
Barnes is 5-10 with a 4.33 ERA and has struck out 135 batters and waked 46 in 108 innings.
Right-hander Casey Lawrence goes for New Hampshire against Keith Couch (10-3, 3.49) on Thursday.
Barnes, at No. 8, and Owens are three of the top prospects playing for the Sea Dogs, according to the soxprospects.com. Third baseman Garin Cecchini (No. 3), who was hitting .296 going into Sunday night’s game, is another.
Catcher Christian Vazquez (No. 13), an outstanding defender, and shortstop Deven Marrero (No. 14) are also with the Sea Dogs. Marrero has been up from Salem for a dozen games.
- - - - - -
THE FISHER CATS got a boost in Saturday night’s win at Reading from the return of a couple of players to the lineup.Gabe Jacobo was back after a short stint on the disabled list with a hamstring injury and had a single in five at-bats.
He had been on a tear before being sidelined and was the Eastern League’s Player of the Week for the period ending Aug. 18. In four games during that stretch, Jacobo was 10 for 19 at the plate and had three home runs, a couple of doubles and eight runs batted in.
Lawrence made his first Fisher Cat start on the mound on Saturday night and allowed five hits in five innings and left with the game tied 1-1. He struck out four and walked one.
Lawrence, just up from High-A Dunedin, made one start earlier this year Triple-A Buffalo. He started two games and made three appearances with the Fisher Cats last year and gave up 20 hits over 12 2/3 innings.