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September 13, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Stewart wraps up turbulent season strong in playoff victory

PAWTUCKET, R.I. – Coming off his debut in a Boston Red Sox uniform, a start in which he allowed nine runs in three innings of work, Zach Stewart (pictured) is now 2-0 in the playoffs for Pawtucket since returning to the team. Thursday night Stewart had one of his best starts with the organization, tossing six shutout innings against the Charlotte Knights in Game Two of the Governors’ Cup finals.

“He did a great job, he minimized a couple innings there, but kept the ball down and worked ahead,” said manager Arnie Beyeler. “You couldn’t ask for anything more. Anytime you’re throwing zeros up there, you’re doing something right.”

Stewart allowed just four hits and a walk, and while he had only thrown 87 pitches, he did not come out for the top of the seventh despite wrapping up a quick 1-2-3 sixth. He said after the game that he was not surprised by the move and that Beyeler talked to him about it after his final inning of work.

“I knew we had some good guys coming in behind me and they were going to take it from there,” said Stewart on the bullpen, which combined for three shutout innings between Pedro Beato, Alex Wilson, and Jose De La Torre.

Mostly Stewart was just happy to finish his season well. “It’s awesome to end on a high note,” he said. “Last year I didn’t do that so much and it is something that weighs on you all offseason. So if this happens to be my last outing, I’ll definitely be happy to take that into the offseason and go from there.”

“[Stewart] was unbelievable,” said catcher Dan Butler. “He was throwing three good pitches all night. He was sinking the ball. His slider and changeup were what really kept him in the game. Those guys didn’t see too many good pitches to hit. They maybe saw one fastball that they could hit all night. It was unbelievable how he mixed those.”

Butler not only led the Pawtucket pitching staff to a dominant shutout performance, but was the offensive star of the game as well. With the amount of injuries to the big league club, the PawSox have seemed to have a different lineup every night and with that a variety of top performers. Butler was the one who stepped up on Thursday, scoring both Pawtucket runs in the game. He began his night at the plate in the second inning with a solo home run deep over the bullpens in left field, and followed that up with a single that he came around to score on in the fifth.

“We’ve been down early in the game and guys have found ways to scratch out runs,” said Butler. “It’s always somebody new everyday.”

Butler came back to a similar theme for the main reason for the team’s success though, saying, “It’s mostly because our pitching has been keeping us in games. You can’t say enough about the way the guys have been throwing the ball.”

Stewart credited simple keys for his successful outing: “Just one of those nights, the ball was coming out of my hand well. I had good defense behind me, and a good offense to go at their guys. We played really good defense, and that makes it easier for you as a pitcher knowing all you have to do is just throw it up there and let them hit it and your guys will make the plays.

“We’ve still got one more game to win, and we’re just focused on doing that right now and trying to win the championship.”

Photo Credit: Zach Stewart by Kelly O'Connor

Matt Huegel is Senior Editor for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattHuegelSP.