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July 29, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Castillo strikes out eight, Portland keeps rolling

7/29 Cup of Coffee: Yeiper Castillo struck out eight in a brilliant performance for Salem, but only Portland was able to come up with a victory, as poor relief work haunted the affiliates on Saturday. Pawtucket and Lowell were rained out. 
Thanks to the continued hot hitting of Jeremy Hazelbaker, the Sea Dogs won for their 12th time in their last 18 games, beating the Binghamton Mets (NYM), 5-1. After Jackie Bradley, Jr. walked to leadoff the game, Hazelbaker connected on a home run to center field to give the Sea Dogs an early lead. The home run was followed by back-to-back doubles by Marquez Smith and Reynaldo Rodriguez to push the lead to three. Hazelbaker manufactured a run in a different way in the fifth, reaching on a bunt single and then stealing second and third base before scoring on a sacrifice fly. 

That was enough for Jeremy Kehrt, who allowed only one run in 5.2 innings. After walking two with two outs in the sixth, Kehrt exited the game, and Michael Olmsted came in and got a ground out to end the threat. Olmsted threw 2.0 innings of scoreless ball, striking out five. He has yet to allow a run in Double-A. Hazelbaker finished 2 for 5 with a home run and now has a 1.010 OPS after the All-Star break. Bradley reached base twice, hitting a double as well as drawing a walk. 

Salem and Lynchburg (ATL) were locked in a pitcher's duel through the first seven innings, but a three-run eighth propelled the Hillcats to a 3-1 victory. Yeiper Castillo was dominant for Salem, tossing 7.0 shutout innings, allowing only one hit and two walks while striking out eight. Unfortunately he could not get the victory, as Jeremiah Bayer allowed three runs in the eighth on three hits. Salem tried to come back in the ninth, as a Heiker Meneses single brought in a run and brought the tying-run to the plate, but Brandon Jacobs struck out swinging to end the game. 

Michael Almanzar cemented his status as the SoxProspects Player of the Month for July, going 3 for 4 with a double. His slash line for the month now sits at .360/.443/.610 with two more games to go. Felix Sanchez went 3 for 5 with a double, while also adding a stolen base. 
Despite a great start from Michael McCarthy, the Greensboro Grasshoppers (MIA) prevailed over the Drive, winning 4-2. McCarthy tossed the first 5.0 innings, giving up three hits and no runs while striking out three. The Drive gave him a lead in the second when Henry Ramos doubled and scored on a passed ball, but the bullpen could not hold it. Justin Erasmus came on in relief and gave up four runs on six hits while recording only two outs. The Drive were not able to come back, as UConn product Greg Nappo pitched three innings of scoreless relief to earn the victory. Ramos went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk, and Boss Moanaroa went 2 for 4.
17th-round draft pick Willie Ethington pitched a scoreless inning in his professional debut, but the GCL Red Sox fell 4-1 to the GCL Twins (MIN). Ethington started his career with a strikeout of second overall pick Byron Buxton, and allowed only one hit in his one inning of work. The Twins scored twice off of Matt Spalding in the fourth and that proved to be enough, as the Red Sox collected only five hits and struck out 12 times on the day. Jeremias Pineda went 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored, while Cleuluis Rondon went 1 for 3 with a walk and RBI single. 
The DSL Red Sox scored six unearned runs in the seventh, but it was not enough to beat the DSL Pirates1 (PIT), falling 10-9. The Pirates scored early and often, jumping out to an eight-run lead by the end of the sixth. In the seventh, the Red Sox collected six runs on only one hit, thanks to three walks and three errors from the Pirates. The lone hit was a two-run double by Aneudis Peralta. Down 10-6 in the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox pulled within one on a three-run home run from Alixon Suarez, but that was as close as they would get, as the next two batters would fly out. 
Player of the Night: Yeiper Castillo's 7.0 shutout innings lowered his ERA to 1.74 in 31.0 innings in Salem. He has allowed only 20 hits while striking out 23. On the season, he has a 3.30 ERA in 109.0 innings between Salem and Greenville. 

Photo Credit: Yeiper Castillo by SoxProspects, LLC