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June 1, 2012 at 7:05 AM

Cup of Coffee: Brentz, Bradley finish impressive May on high note

Bryce Brentz (Kelly O'Conoor)
6/1 Cup of Coffee: Appropriately, May ended with big nights by the two players in the system who had the most dominant months - Bryce Brentz went 5 for 5 to lead Portland in a morning game, while Jackie Bradley, Jr. had a 4 for 5 evening that helped propel Salem to victory. A rehabbing Daisuke Matsuzaka took a tough-luck loss as Pawtucket was two-hit, and Greenville was battered by Charleston.

While Pawtucket was two-hit while dropping a 2-0 decision to the Norfolk Tides (BAL), the good news was the second consecutive strong performance by Daisuke Matsuzaka, profiled here in full by SoxProspects.com Senior Editor Matt Huegel. Matsuzaka allowed a solo home run to the second batter of the game, major league veteran and former Red Sox farmhand Lew Ford, putting Pawtucket down 1-0. From there, only two more Tides reached based off the rehabbing starter, one reaching on an error in the third, and a Ford single to lead off the fourth. Matsuzaka threw 51 of his 76 pitches for strikes, finishing 5.1 innings, allowing the 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 4 without walking a batter. He took the tough luck loss, as Norfolk's Chris Tillman was a tad better, pitching 8.0 innings of 1-hit baseball. Norfolk added an insurance run in the seventh off of Alex Wilson despite not getting a base hit. Wilson walked Ford to lead off the inning, who stole second and then advanced to third and took home on consecutive wild pitches. Wilson went 1.2 innings, allowing the run on no hits, the 1 walk, and also struck out a batter. Garrett Mock finished the game with 2.0 shutout innings, giving up 1 hit and striking out 3. Mock ends the month of May unscored upon in 12.0 innings over 9 outings. Lars Anderson and Nate Spears got the two Pawtucket hits. 

In morning action, Portland pounded out 16 hits in a 7-2 victory over the Harrisburg Senators (WAS). Bryce Brentz started things off for Portland when he led off the second inning with a double and scored on a Derrik Gibson single. Gibson advanced to second on a single by Nick Natoli, and came around to score on a Jeremy Hazelbaker single, putting the Sea Dogs up 2-0. Harrisburg cut the lead to 1 in the bottom of the second, but Portland responded with another pair of runs in the third. This rally also started with a Brentz double, which was followed by a two-run homer by Dan Butler. Brentz and Butler again provided the spark for Portland in the fifth inning, leading off with back to back singles to give the Sea Dogs a first and third opportunity with nobody out. Brentz came home on a Natoli groundout, putting Portland up 5-1. The Senators picked up a run in the bottom of the fifth, but Portland again responded immediately. This time, consecutive walks to Shannon Wilkerson and rehabbing outfielder Ryan Kalish, making his first appearance in Double-A after three games at High A Salem, brought up Brentz with runners on base for the first time. Brentz came through once again, drilling a line drive single to center field to score Wilkerson and putting the Sea Dogs up 6-2. Portland added another run in the ninth, and it was once again started with a Brentz double. This time, it was a Heiker Meneses single that plated Brentz. In all, the 2010 first-round pick went 5 for 5 with 3 doubles, 4 runs scored, and an RBI. He finishes May with a .388/.439/.633 line. Butler, Wilkerson, Gibson and Natoli all had two-hit games for the Sea Dogs. Chris Balcom-Miller gave Portland a solid start, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits in his 5.0 innings, walking 3 and striking out 2. Marco Duarte pitched 4.0 scoreless innings to pick up the save, allowing only 2 hits and 3 walks and striking out 2. 

Salem grabbed an early lead and never looked back, defeating the Lynchburg Hillcats (ATL) 6-2. The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first without recording a hit. Matty Johnson had a one-out walk, stole second, advanced to third on a throwing error, and came in to score on a Travis Shaw groundout. Salem then broke the game open with five runs in the third. Sean Coyle reached on an error to lead off the inning, and he came around to score on an Adalberto Ibarra double. Jackie Bradley, Jr. followed with a single up the middle to plate Ibarra, putting Salem ahead 3-0. A Johnson walk brought up Shaw, who delivered a three-run home run. The blast for Shaw follows a two homer game in the nightcap of the previous night's doubleheader. That would be more than enough offense for Brandon Workman. The tall right-hander threw 6.0 shutout innings, giving up only two hits - both singles - while walking 2 and striking out 6. Out of the pen, Jeremiah Bayer allowed 2 runs on 3 hits in 2.0 innings of work, picking up 3 strikeouts and walking 2, and Michael Olmsted struck out the side in a perfect ninth inning. It was the eighth consecutive scoreless appearance for Olmsted, and during that streak he has struck out 14 batters without allowing a walk. Bradley was once again the offensive star for Salem, going 4 for 5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run scored. Bradley closes out May with a .382/.513/.629 line. Through two months, Bradley leads the Carolina League in several categories, pacing the league with a .371 batting average, .491 on-base percentage, 62 hits, 38 walks and 18 doubles. Shaw, with three home runs in his last two games, ends with a May line of .318/.434/.612.

It was a less successful night for Greenville, who allowed 14 hits in a 13-2 drubbing by the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY). After a scoreless first inning, Charleston took a 2-0 lead in the second and just kept raking, scoring in each inning through the seventh. Greenville scored a single run in the third when Keury De La Cruz doubled and came in to score when David Renfroe reached on an error, and another in the sixth when a Drew Turocy single scored Renfroe, but it was far too little, as Drive pitching failed to stop the Charleston bats all evening. Starter Jason Garcia allowed 7 runs, 6 earned, on 9 hits in 4.1 innings, striking out 4 and allowing 3 walks. Tyler Wilson followed, and was hit just as hard, giving up 4 runs on 3 hits in 1.2 innings, adding a walk and a strikeout. Michael McCarthy pitched 2.0 innings, giving up 2 unearned runs on 1 hit, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts. Tyler Lockwood managed to pitch a scoreless ninth, giving up just 1 hit. Two of Greenville's five hits belonged to Turocy, who finished May hitting .369 after missing April with an injury. De La Cruz, Henry Ramos and Boss Moanaroa each doubled to comprise the rest of the Drive offense. 

Player of the Night: Bryce Brentz capped off an excellent month on a high note, going 5 for 5 with 3 doubles and 4 runs scored. After a tough initial adjustment to Double-A in an April that saw him struggle to a .216/.266/.318 line, Brentz's bat came alive in a .388/.439/.633 May.