August 28, 2012 at 6:50 AM
8/28 Cup of Coffee: It was a quiet night on the farm, with only three affiliates in action. Pawtucket pitchers tossed a three-hitter, expanding the wild card lead, Lowell rode early offense to victory, and Portland dropped its third straight.
With a week to go in the regular season and a razon-thin lead in the wild card standings, Pawtucket got excellent pitching in a 3-1 victory over the Gwinnett Braves (ATL). Nelson Figueroa (pictured) was excellent, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. In all, he allowed only one run on three hits in 7.1 innings, striking out four and walking two to pick up the victory. Rich Hill tossed a perfect inning and hasn't allowed a run in the 4.0 innings since his Pawtucket rehab assignment began. Chris Carpenter retired the final two batters of the game, getting credit for the save and lowering his ERA to 0.61. Dan Butler drove in all three of Pawtucket's runs, with the big hit being a two-run home run in the second inning. It was the first time Butler had gone deep since his promotion from Portland earlier in the month. Also notable was the Triple-A debut of Jeremy Hazelbaker, who was promoted earlier in the day. Hazelbaker got the start at DH and went 0 for 4.
The win, combined with Lehigh Valley's loss, gives Pawtucket a 1.5 game lead for the wild card with seven to play.
Little went right for Portland in an 8-1 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR). The bright spot was the work of starting pitcher Stolmy Pimentel, who pitched well through five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. The right-hander was reportedly touching 95 on New Hampshire's stadium gun, allowing only one run in his first 5.0 innings. Four hits allowed, paired with a costly error, broke things open in the sixth. In all, Pimentel allowed four runs (two earned) on eight hits in 6.0 innings, striking out five and walking only one. The Sea Dogs offense sputtered, managing only six hits. Their lone run came in the sixth, when Peter Hissey scored on a Travis Shaw sacrifice fly.
Lowell scored three times in the first and held on for a 3-2 win over the Tri-City Valley Cats, the Spinners fifth win in six games. There was a scary moment in the first inning, as Deven Marrero was hit by a pitch in the hand and had to be removed from the game. Fortunately, x-rays were negative, and the Red Sox top draft choice is day-to-day. Mookie Betts led the Lowell offense, going 2 for 3 with a double, walk, RBI and a pair of stolen bases. William Cuevas earned the victory, allowing two runs in 5.0 innings of work, striking out three. Cuevas' eight wins leads the New York-Penn League. He also ranks third in strikeouts, third in ERA, and sixth in WHIP. William Ortega and Braden Kapteyn combined for 4.0 shutout innings to preserve the win for the Spinners.
Player of the Day: After losing several veteran pitchers at midseason, Nelson Figueroa was signed in July to give Pawtucket some leadership and much-needed innings. He continued to do that last night with his best start in a PawSox uniform, taking a no hitter into the seventh inning. Figueroa has won three of his five starts since he was acquired, and also added another win in the bullpen.
Photo credit: Nelson Figueroa by milb.com