August 24, 2012 at 7:33 AM
8/24 Cup of Coffee: A 17-hit outburst has the GCL Red Sox a win away from clinching the playoffs, while Pawtucket ended up on the wrong side of a pitcher's duel, unable to expand its wild card lead. An anticipated debut wasn't enough to keep the DSL Red Sox from falling out of postseason contention. Portland, Greenville and Lowell all picked up wins as well.
Despite the efforts of Zach Stewart, Pawtucket was unable to expand its lead in the International League wild card race, falling 2-1 to the Charlotte Knights (CWS). Stewart was excellent, allowing two runs on only four hits in 7.0 innings, striking out four without a walk. The big blow was a two-run homer off of Stewart in the fourth by former Red Sox outfielder Conor Jackson, accounting for all of Charlotte's scoring. Rehabbing left-hander Rich Hill allowed one hit in a scoreless eighth inning, but the PawSox offense could not get anything going. Andy LaRoche reached base three times, finishing 1 for 2 with a walk, HBP and a double. He also scored Pawtucket's lone run on a fourth-inning Dan Butler single, but that was the only time a PawSox player got even as far as third base, as they were stymied by Charles Leesman and a pair of relievers.
Lehigh Valley lost as well, so Pawtucket retains its slim, half-game lead in the wild card standings.
While Pawtucket's contest was a pitcher's duel, Portland's was anything but, as the Sea Dogs banged out 17 hits in a 14-9 victory over the Binghamton Mets (NYM). Xander Bogaerts once again got the Portland offense going with a two-run homer in the second, but had to leave the game after being hit with a pitch the next inning. Fortunately, the shortstop was fine other than some swelling on his forearm, and will be day-to-day.
With Bogaerts joining Jackie Bradley, Jr. in the trainer's room, it was up to the rest of the offense to step in, and they did in a big way. Travis Shaw broke out of a 3-for-26 skid with three doubles, an RBI and a pair of runs scored. Jeremy Hazelbaker went 4 for 6, adding a double, triple, two RBI and two runs, raising his second half line to .311/.360/.563. Derrik Gibson had a triple as one of his two hits, while Peter Hissey and Bryce Brentz both added a double apiece.
The offensive outburst helped Mike McDonald, who struggled but came away with the win. McDonald allowed six runs on eight hits in 6.2 innings, and ran his record to 2-2. Jason Urquidez allowed three runs in relief, ending his scoreless streak at 18.2 innings.
Salem's game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX) was rained out. With no more meetings on the schedule between the two clubs, no make-up was scheduled.
Greenville got off to an early lead and held on to beat the Asheville Tourists (COL), 4-3. Mickey Pena picked up his seventh win of the season, giving up three runs (two earned) on seven hits in 6.0 innings pitched. Pena struck out three and did not walk a batter. His ERA sits at 2.88, sixth among South Atlantic League pitchers with at least 90.0 innings pitched. Nefi Ogando allowed just one hit in 3.0 shutout innings to collect his second save. Keury De La Cruz led the offense, going 2 for 4 with a double, stolen base, RBI and a run scored. Garin Cecchini went 0 for 4, but reached on a force out and stole his 44th base of the year.
After falling into a 7-2 deficit, Lowell scored three in the sixth and three more in the seventh, earning an 8-7 win over the Abderdeen IronBirds (BAL). Deven Marrero led the way, going 2 for 4 with a triple, walk, three runs scored, two RBI and a stolen base. The Red Sox top draft choice has now reached base in eleven consecutive games and ranks second in the New York-Penn League with 22 steals. Mike Miller also scored three runs, going 1 for 3 with a pair of walks and a stolen base.
Coming in with a man on in the fifth inning and his team down by five, Jadd Schmeltzer stranded that runner and pitched 2.1 scoreless innings while Lowell's offense took control, getting him the win. Greg Larson allowed a pair of hits in 2.0 shutout innings as he recorded his second save.
Coming into action with a one game lead and only three to play, the GCL Red Sox offense was ready, as they pounded out 17 hits in a 10-4 drubbing of the GCL Rays. The scorching-hot Mike Meyers (pictured) led the way, going 4 for 5 with two doubles and a pair of runs scored. Meyers is 7 for 8 in his last two games and 21 for 48 in August, raising his batting average to .321. Cleuluis Rondon and Nick Moore both went 3 for 5 with a double, and Jose Colorado drove in four runs on a 2 for 4 afternoon. Second-round pick Jamie Callahan got the start, giving up two runs on four hits in 2.0 innings, walking one and striking out two. Jonathan Aro picked up his third win of the year in relief, tossing 5.0 shutout frames, giving up only two hits while walking two and striking out four.
The win keeps the Red Sox a game ahead of the GCL Twins. The two teams will finish the season with a home-and-home two game set to finish the season. The Red Sox needed only a split to clinch the division.
A 6-2 loss to the DSL Yankees2 officially knocked the DSL Red Sox from playoff contention. Despite the loss, there was still much excitement over the long-awaited debut of Simon Mercedes, a 20-year-old Dominican right-hander whose $800K contract was finally approved by Major League Baseball earlier this week. Matt Huegel detailed the issues underlying Mercedes' signing back in March, the reason for the longer-than-usual wait for MLB approval. If his debut was any indication, Mercedes was worth the wait, as he worked 4.0 scoreless innings, giving up only two hits while striking out four and walking two. The offense sputtered, collection only five hits – three of which came off the bat of Manuel Margot. The outfielder has been on a tear, batting .351/.444/.473 in August. Margot also stole his 33rd base of the season.
Player of the Day: Mike Meyers continues to be the driving force behind the GCL Red Sox playoff push. The 12th-round pick in June's draft out of Silverado (NV) High School has blossomed in August. After going just 6-for-36 in 12 games in June and July, Meyers is hitting an amazing .438/.481/.667 in 48 August at bats.
Photo credit: Mike Meyers by William Parmeter