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September 3, 2011 at 7:00 AM

Pawtucket brings magic number down to 1

9/3 Cup of Coffee: As the 2011 minor league season winds down, only 2 affiliates remain in contention for playoff spots. The biggest positive of the night was Pawtucket cutting their magic number down to 1 with a victory over Scranton/Wilkes Barre (NYY). Greenville was postponed due to rain and their pursuit of a playoff spot will have to wait until tomorrow.

Pawtucket withstood a late rally to hang on to a 4-3 victory. Lars Anderson and Hector Luna each delivered 2 hits, with Lars adding a double and Luna hitting a home run. Ryan Lavarnway went 1 for 2 with a double and 2 walks. Defensively, he committed a throwing error, which was his first error with the PawSox. He also threw out 1 runner and allowed 2 stolen bases. Will Middlebrooks went 0 for 4 with 3 strikeouts as he continues to struggle against AAA pitching. While it is frustrating to watch the system's top prospect have a tough time making adjustments, this slump will show him what he needs to work on when he goes to the Arizona Fall League. August Pitcher of the Month, Matt Fox, threw another good game, going 5.0 innings allowing only 1 run on 4 hits, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts.

Portland used a well balanced offensive attack to defeat the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) 6-5. The stars of the game were Mark Wagner, who went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles, and Mitch Dening, who went 1 for 2 with a home run and 2 walks. Alex Hassan, Jeff Howell, and Ronald Bermudez also contributed 2 hits apiece. Oscar Tejeda went 1 for 4 with a double and a strikeout, and also committed 2 errors in the field. His defense at second base has been rough this season and it is becoming increasingly likely that he does not stick at the position long term. Matt Rusch started and allowed 2 runs in 5.1 innings despite surrendering 8 hits. Blake Maxwell was the most effective Portland pitcher going 2.0 hitless innings, striking out 2.

A walk-off 2 run home run gave Winston-Salem (CWS) an 8-6 victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Salem Sox. Derrik Gibson went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk, Heiker Meneses hit a 3 run home run, and Bryce Brentz went 1 for 4 with an RBI. Jeremiah Bayer gave up 6 runs in 2.0 innings, and he was relieved by T.J. Hose. The first batter Hose faced took him deep to right field for a walk-off home run.

Salem was able to get some revenge in Game 2 as it squeaked by with a 7-6 victory. Pete Hissey went 1 for 4 with a triple while Meneses also added a triple as well as a stolen base. Miles Head went 1 for 3 with a double and Zach Gentile went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI's. Chris Hernandez had a poor outing going 3.1 innings giving up 5 runs on 6 hits. He walked 4 and did not strikeout a batter. Jordan Flasher got the win in relief going 3.1 innings giving up only 1 run on 3 hits.

Lowell had a tough time in Connecticut (DET) on Friday losing both games of a doubleheader. Bad pitching led to a 10-1 drubbing in Game 1. Hunter Cervenka had a terrible game going 2.2 innings allowing 10 runs on 7 hits and 6 walks, striking out 2. Michael McCarthy was able to put out the fire pitching the last 3.1 innings giving up 0 runs, 2 hits, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts. A 7th inning home run by Jose Garcia was the only hit the Spinners had all game.

Lowell could not come up with a victory in Game 2 either, falling 4-3. Matt Marquis went 2 for 3 with a double, and Jose Garcia went 1 for 3 with a triple and an error. Braden Kapteyn started the game tossing 2.0 innings giving up 2 runs on 2 hits while walking 1 and striking out 3.

Prospect Hitter of the night: Mitch Dening who went 1 for 2 with a 3 run home run and 2 walks.

Prospect Pitcher of the night: Matt Fox who pitched 5.0 innings giving up 4 hits and 1 run while walking 3 and striking out 4. He got the win in one of the biggest games of the season for the PawSox.