8/29 Cup of Coffee: The playoff schedule kicked off on a historic note. DSL Red Sox starter Daniel Gonzalez and relievers Algenis Martinez and Carlos Caceres combined for a no-hitter in the first game of the playoff series against the DSL Royals. Elsewhere, the GCL Red Sox closed their regular season with a win and Pawtucket's victory helped solidify its playoff chances. Lowell provided plenty of excitement, with two players and manager Joe Oliver getting ejected before the first pitch, followed by the Spinners erupting for 13 runs. Portland fell in a pitchers duel, while Salem and Greenville both suffered blowout losses.
In what turned into nearly a four-hour contest, the PawSox prevailed despite being out-hit 15 to 13. Every member of the Pawtucket lineup reached base, as the squad added seven walks to go with the 13 hits. Justin Henry led the way, going 3 for 5 with a walk and three runs driven in. Blake Swihart had the only extra-base hit for Pawtucket, a sixth-inning double. He was left stranded then, but overall scored once and drove in two as part of a 2-for-4 night. Jackie Bradley, Jr. was 2 for 4 as well, driving in a pair and walking once. Garin Cecchini added his third consecutive multi-hit game. After struggling badly in June and July, the 23-year-old has turned a corner in August, hitting .349/.429/.535.
Pawtucket pitchers allowed 22 baserunners, but the damage was limited as the IronPigs went 4 for 17 with runners in scoring position, Ryan Verdugo got the spot start in place of Anthony Ranaudo, who will be called up to pitch the major league game against Tampa Bay on Friday. Verdugo lasted 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits. He walked three and struck out eight. Chris Hernandez struggled but got credit for the win. The left-hander allowed two runs on four hits in 1 1/3, issuing two walks without a strikeout. Drake Britton played Houdini, allowing four hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings but escaping without giving up a run. Heath Hembree struck out three batters in his scoreless 1 1/3.
With the win, Pawtucket remains 1.5 games ahead of Buffalo for the wild card spot with four games remaining.
8/28 Cup of Coffee: It proved to be a down day on the farm as the affiliates were only able to bring home two victories. Salem split a doubleheader against Frederick, while the GCL Sox exploded for 14 runs against the Orioles. Elsewhere, offense was at a premium as Pawtucket, Portland and Greenville all had weak nights at the plate. Lowell lost in heartbreaking fashion in Connecticut as their playoff hopes were further trimmed.
It was a quiet night at the plate for the PawSox, who collected just five hits on the evening. Garin Cecchini was 2 for 3, including an RBI single in the ninth inning, to lead the Pawtucket offense. Steven Wright dropped to 5-5 after allowing five runs on 12 hits and two walks in six innings of work. Miguel Celestino added two perfect innings of relief, striking out three.
Brain Johnson's season-long resurgence continued last Saturday night at New Hampshire (TOR) in which he allowed three base runners and a single earned run, coasting easily to his fourth SoxProspects.com Pitcher of the Week award. His ten strikeouts were two short of his season-high of 12. Johnson currently leads the Eastern League in ERA (1.83) and WHIP (0.96). He is currently the eighth-ranked prospect in the organization by SoxProspects.com.
Season Line: 24 G, 13-3, 138.2 IP, 2.21 ERA, 99 H, 34 ER, 39 BB/131 K, .200 BAA
8/27 Cup of Coffee: The PawSox had a strong showing at the plate as they easily handled Buffalo. Despite a loss, one of the Red Sox top pitching prospects was impressive in Portland. The GCL Red Sox secured a playoff berth as they rode a strong pitching performance to victory.
Henry Owens notched the victory, allowing three runs on eight hits and four walks in 6 1/3 innings of work. The left-hander struck out eight Bisons on the evening and has now punched out 35 hitters in 32 innings as a member of Pawtucket. Dallier Hinojosa added 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief, allowing a hit and striking out a batter.
The PawSox compiled 17 hits on the evening, as Ryan Roberts was the only member of the starting lineup to not collect a hit. Bryce Brentz was 2 for 5 with a key three-run home run in the fifth. Alex Hassan was 3 for 5 with a run scored and two doubles while Deven Marrero was 2 for 5 with two doubles and an RBI. Garin Cecchini continued to remain hot at the plate, going 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI. Jackie Bradley Jr., in one of his best games since rejoining Pawtucket, was 3 for 6 with a double and an RBI.
The win gives the PawSox a two game cushion over Buffalo in the wild card standings.
The Arizona Fall League (AFL) rosters were announced today, and the Red Sox will be sending six prospects to play for the Surprise Saguaros. The list is headlined by infielders Deven Marrero (pictured) and Sean Coyle, while pitchers Keith Couch, Aaron Kurcz, Robby Scott, and Madison Younginer will join them. The Red Sox also have an outfielder listed as TBD, and as Alex Speier of WEEI.com notes, that spot could go to Rusney Castillo. When Jose Iglesias was signed in September of 2009, the Red Sox sent him to get at-bats in the AFL that fall, and this situation with Castillo is quite similar.
8/26 Cup of Coffee: While Monday was yet another day of fantastic pitching down on the farm, it was one of the organizations most exciting young bats that stole the spotlight. First-round pick Michael Chavis (pictured, left) collected six hits, including his first professional home run, as the GCL Red Sox split a doubleheader. A trio of Portland arms combined on a shutout win, while Pawtucket, Salem, and Lowell eached cruised to four-run victories.
Matt Barnes continued his late-season resurgence with yet another strong start. The 2011 first-round pick allowed two runs on four hits in 7 1/3 innings, as he struck out four and walked two. In five August starts, Barnes has a sterling 1.30 ERA and has struck out 28 in 34 2/3 innings. Chris Hernandez tossed a scoreless final 1 2/3, allowing a hit while striking out one and walking two. The big blow for the PawSox came in the fourth inning, as Garin Cecchini drove a three-run double to deep center field. Justin Henry was 3 for 5 with a double and two runs scored, and Alex Hassan drove in a pair as part of his 3-for-4 night.
The win moves the PawSox a game ahead of Buffalo in the wild card race with seven games remaining.
At the start of the week the Red Sox were among six teams connected to Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo (pictured right), who defected earlier this year. By midweek the list was down to three teams, and on Friday news broke that the Red Sox had landed the 27 year-old for a record setting deal of seven years, $72 million. SoxProspects.com executive editor Chris Hatfield was all over the news and broke it down for you.
Since the trading deadline had passed, the Castillo news proved to be the big news of the week both locally and nationally. Many writers and analysts broke down the signing, among them Dave Cameron of FanGraphs who compared him to Shane Victorino, and WEEI.com's Alex Speier who focused on how he can impact the Red Sox.
8/25 Cup of Coffee: Trey Ball and Garin Cecchini continued to turn their seasons around, Aaron Wilkerson continued his dominance over the New York-Penn League, and Luis Diaz was one of three pitchers to combine on a shut out for the Sea Dogs. Carlos Asuaje (pictured)had a ridiculous day at the plate, and a suicide squeeze won the game for Lowell.
It was a tough day for the pitching staff, as the Bisons slugged five home runs, including a walk-off grand slam in the 12th. Anthony Ranaudo came up short in his attempt for his 17th win of the season between Pawtucket and Boston, allowing four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. Dalier Hinojosa allowed two more runs while recording only four outs, and Miguel Celestino allowed the grand slam to end it. Drake Britton tossed 2 2/3 innings of perfect relief, and he has now strung together three straight scoreless appearances.
8/24 Cup of Coffee: The PawSox lost a blow out, while Portland won their own one-sided contest. Salem had their game suspended, while both Greenville and Lowell picked up victories. The GCL Red Sox were swept in a double header and the DSL had their game cancelled due to fog
Edwin Escobar struggled mightily for Pawtucket, giving up nine runs (eight earned) on 11 hits in only 2 1/3 innings pitched. This marks Escobar's second straight loss in a Pawtucket uniform and his 10th between Pawtucket and Fresno. The bullpen did not fare much better as Ryan Verdugo would be touched up for three runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings and Brayan Villarreal would give up Buffalo's final three scores in only 1 1/3 innings.
Despite collecting 11 hits, Pawtucket's offense was unable to do anything meaningful. Every starter with the exception of Deven Marrero had at least one hit and both Corey Brown and Blake Swihart had multi-hit games. Brown went 3 for 4 while Swihart was 2 for 3 with a walk. The only extra-base hits were doubles off the bats of Garin Cecchini and Ryan Roberts.
8/23 Cup of Coffee: Pawtucket was unable to sweep their series against the IronPigs while the Spinners fell to the IronBirds. The Sea Dogs finished off the Fisher Cats and Salem walked off with the win in extra innings thanks to a Jantzen Witte, bases-loaded single. Greenville defeated the Sand Gnats with the help of a hot bat from Cole Sturgeon. The GCL Red Sox lost in extras to the GCL Twins while the DSL Red Sox were postponed.
Pawtucket failed to finish the four-game sweep of the IronPigs. Steven Wright took the loss for Pawtucket as he went 4 1/3 innings giving up seven runs (five earned) on eight hits while striking out four. The game was tied after three innings until the IronPigs broke things open with a run in the fourth and four more in the fifth.