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April 16, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Middlebrooks stays hot, Linares injured in Portland

4/16 Cup of Coffee: Will Middlebrooks continued his hot start for Pawtucket, Juan Carlos Linares became the most recent outfielder to be bit by the injury bug, Salem won consecutive games for the first time this season, and Greenville's losing streak was extended to five games after being swept by West Virginia.
Pawtucket scored nine runs for the second straight day, but it was not enough to defeat Buffalo (NYM), as the PawSox fell 10-9 in 10 innings. Pawtucket started the slug-fest, exploding for six runs in the fourth inning off of Bisons ace Matt Harvey. Two-run doubles from Lars Anderson and Middlebrooks, who both went 2 for 5, and an RBI single from recently activated Tony Thomas accounted for most of the damage. The Bisons managed to cut the 6-0 lead in half, scoring three runs in their half of the fourth off of Pawtucket starter Doug Mathis. Mathis was pulled after 3.2 innings allowing the 3 runs on 6 hits. A Josh Kroeger RBI single in the fifth and Mauro Gomez two-run double in the sixth extended the PawSox lead back to six. Gomez had a terrific day at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two doubles and a walk. Andrew Miller continued his rehab assignment with the PawSox, and while he has had good results so far, that was not the case yesterday. He faced only five batters, walking three, giving up an RBI single, and recording one strikeout. He left with the bases loaded, and was replaced by Tony Pena, who gave up a grand slam to the second batter her faced. The Bisons tied the game off of Pena in the eighth, and then won it off of Clayton Mortensen in the tenth. The PawSox bullpen gave up seven runs in the last 4.1 innings, while the Bisons bullpen held the PawSox scoreless over that same stretch. 

Portland came up short in its attempt to win its first series of the year, falling to Binghamton (NYM) 9-2. Sea Dogs starter Chris Balcom-Miller was shelled for 5 runs (4 earned) in only 1.2 innings of work. He gave up 5 hits and walked 3. Michael Lee came on in relief and was able to fan the flames, giving up only one unearned run in 4.1 innings. There was a scary moment for the Sea Dogs in the fourth. Linares, who was on first after roping a single to left field, pulled up lame going into second on a Bryce Brentz double play ball. Kevin Thomas of the Portland Press Herald reported after the game that the early diagnosis on Linares is a tight hamstring. That is not good news for a system who can ill afford to lose another outfielder. Linares, who was batting .415 to start the season, was replaced in center field by Ronald Bermudez who went 1 for 2 with an RBI double. 

Salem used good pitching and three sacrifice flies to propel them to a 3-1 victory over the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX). Salem starter Manny Rivera twirled 6.0 innings allowing only an unearned run. He gave up 5 hits and 2 walks, and struck out 2. Salem got on the board in the second with a sacrifice fly from catcher Adalberto Ibarra. An error by shortstop Xander Bogaerts led to the Pelicans tying the game in the top of the sixth, but Salem bounced right back in the bottom of the inning to take the lead. Felix Sanchez led off the inning with a double, and then showed off his plus speed by stealing third base. Jackie Bradley, Jr. brought Sanchez in on a sacrifice fly to center. Bradley was in a similar situation in the eighth, when Michael Almanzar led off the inning with a double, and moved to third on a wild pitch. After a failed bunt attempt by Sanchez, Bradley hit another sacrifice fly to center to score an insurance run for Salem. Marco Duarte pitched the final 3.0 innings in relief of Rivera, giving up only 1 hit and 1 walk, while striking out 3. 

Greenville was its own worst enemy on Sunday, committing six errors in a 9-6 loss to the West Virginia Power (PIT). Cody Koback led the game off for the Drive with his first home run of the year. The Power continued to slug the ball, taking the lead on a two-run home run off of Drive starter Miguel Pena in the third. The Greenville bats came alive in the fifth, scoring five runs on five hits. Boss Moanaroa, who went 3 for 3 with a walk, led the inning off with a single, and eventually came into score on a passed ball. David Renfroe continued his strong start to season, blasting a two-run home run to left field. Unfortunately, the Greenville lead was short lived, as the Power answered with five runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Drive committed two errors in the inning and Pena was chased from the game after giving up a three-run home run. Pena went 4.2 innings allowing 7 runs, only 4 of which were earned.  Of the nine runs the Drive gave up on the day, only four were earned.

Player of the Day: Manny Rivera rebounded in a huge way on Sunday. After not making it out of the first inning in his last start, he threw 6.0 great innings, without giving up an earned run. After a rough transition to Salem at the end of last year, starts like this show that he is making the necessary adjustments as he moves up the system.