July 13, 2012 at 7:00 AM
7/13 Cup of Coffee: Pawtucket and Portland had mixed results as they kicked off the second half, while Lowell is now working on a winning streak. Greenville and the GCL Red Sox were both rained out.
Coming out of the All-Star break, Pawtucket lost in a heartbreaker, allowing four runs in the ninth to fall to drop an 8-5 decision to the Buffalo Bisons (NYM). The biggest news was the appearance of Carl Crawford, who started in left field. Crawford played six innings, going 2 for 3 with a run scored. Reports indicate that Crawford will be activated by the major league club on Monday.
Pawtucket's bullpen was a highlight early on but collapsed late. Alex Wilson came on with men on second and third in the fifth, and got out of the jam, striking out Matt Tuiasosopo to end the inning. Wilson went on to retire the first six batters he faced before giving up a single and walk, getting lifted with two outs in the seventh for Clay Mortensen, who's outing mirrored Wilson's. Mortensen ended the seventh with a strikeout, then retired five in a row after a leadoff walk to begin the eight. One out from sealing the victory, Mortensen ran into trouble as a throwing error and walk put the go-ahead run on first. Garrett Mock came on and could not find the plate, walking all four batters he faced. Mortensen took the loss despite not allowing an earned run.
Portland began its second half with a bang. The Sea Dogs knocked back-to-back homers in the first and never locked back, hanging on to sink the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR), 4-2. As followers of the Red Sox farm system are growing accustomed to, the rally got started by Jackie Bradley, who led off the game with a walk. Jeremy Hazelbaker hit his tenth home run of the year put the Sea Dogs up 2-0, and Marquez Smith immediately followed with his first long ball since signing with the organization on June 16th. Will Latimer (pictured) got the start for Portland, the first of his career following 123 career relief appearances dating back to 2007. He allowed a run on only one hit in his 4.0 innings of work, striking out five and walking two. Brock Huntzinger got the win in relief, continuing his successful transition from starter to the pen. Huntzinger allowed one run in 3.0 innings of work, and now has a 3.11 ERA in 37.2 innings since making the move in April. Josh Fields tossed two scoreless to notch his sixth save of the year
Bradley had two walks on the evening to give him 63 between two levels, as he continues to lead the minor leagues in that category. Smith, a third baseman signed as a minor league free agent out of the Mexican League, has settled in to the third spot in the Portland lineup. His 2 for 3 night gave him his thrid multi-hit game in his last five.
It was a tough night for Salem, falling 9-2 to the Lynchburg Hillcats (ATL). So reliable in the first half of the season, Keith Couch had his third consecutive difficult outing allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits in his 4.0 innings of work. The tough stretch has raised his ERA on the season from 3.33 to 4.35. Shannon Wilkerson went 2 for 4 to extend his hitting streak to eight games, while Michael Almanzar's on-base streak ended at 16 when he went 0 for 4.
Greenville's game against the Augusta GreenJackets (SF) was postponed by rain. They will play a doubleheader this afternoon.
After ending their 11-game losing streak on Wednesday, Lowell kept their winning ways alive, crushing the Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) 10-1. Sixth-round draft pick Justin Haley made his third start, pitching a hitless 1.1 innings and struck out two, but struggled with his control, walking three. It was William Cuevas (pictured) who impressed in relief, tossing 5.2 scoreless inning, striking out ten without walking a batter. The 21-year-old lowered his ERA to 1.38, while earning his first win of the season. At the plate, Bunyan-esque slugger David Chester slugged his team-leading fourth home run of the year. The six-foot-five, 270-pound first baseman was a 33rd round draft pick in 2011 after leading the Big East in home runs during his senior year at Pittsburgh.
The GCL Red Sox were also victims of the rain. Their meeting with the GCL Rays was postponed, and will be made up as part of a doubleheader on July 16th.
A comeback attempt fell short, as the DSL Red Sox fell 3-2 to the DSL Rangers. Red Sox starter Luis Ortega took the loss despite a solid outing, allowing three runs on five hits in 6.0 innings, walking two and striking out one. Carlos Garcia was impressive in relief, throwing 3.0 scoreless innings, allowing one hit and one walk while striking out three. After a standout June, Manuel Margot continued his July struggles, going 0 for 4, falling to 5 for 40 on the month. Junior Estrella, who made his debut with the organization on Tuesday, went 1 for 2 with a double and two walks. Estrella has reached base at least twice in each of his three games.
Co-Players of the Day: It's a split decision between right-handed pitcher William Cuevas of Lowell and lefty Will Latimer of Portland.
Cuevas earned his first win of the year in an outstanding outing, striking out 10 without walking a batter in 5.2 scoreless innings. Cuevas was originally signed in 2008 out of Venezuela, appearing in 35 games over three years in the Dominican Summer League before his promotion to the GCL last summer. In his first go-around through the New York-Penn League, Cuevas has been excellent, compiling a 1.38 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 26.0 innings, striking out 27 and walking eight.
Stepping up to fill in for the injury-ravaged Sea Dogs staff, Latimer made his first professional start after 123 relief appearances and took well to the role, giving up only one hit in 4.0 innings. Latimer was a 22nd-round pick in 2007 out of tiny Trinidad State JC in Trinidad, CO. The performance lowered his ERA to 3.86 on the season.
Photo credits: Will Latimer by Kelly O'Connor; William Cuevas by William Parmeter.