August 31, 2012 at 6:30 AM
8/31 Cup of Coffee: Pawtucket opened up its lead in the International League wild card race by sweeping a doubleheader, Salem knocked off an Orioles top prospect, and Greenville came from behind for the win.
In the first game of a doubleheader, Billy Buckner (pictured) paced Pawtucket by out-dueling Randall Delgado in a 1-0 victory over the Gwinnett Braves (ATL). Buckner tossed a 7.0 inning shutout, allowing only four hits while striking out seven and walking three. While Delgado matched him into the fifth, a sacrifice fly by Jeremy Hazelbaker scored Jason Repko to break the scoreless tie. Bryce Brentz, promoted from Portland earlier in the day, struggled in his Triple-A debut. Getting the start in right field, Brentz went 0 for 3 with a strikeout. Ivan De Jesus continued his torrid pace since coming over in the blockbuster deal with the Dodgers, going 2 for 3 with a stolen base.
In the nightcap, a trio of PawSox pitchers beat top prospect Julio Teheran and the Braves, this time by a 3-2 decision. Tony Pena got the start, giving up just one unearned run in 4.0 innings. Jose De La Torre picked up the win in relief, firing 2.0 shutout frames, allowing just one hit. Chris Carpenter allowed a run in the seventh, but held on to record his fourth save. It was just the second run Carpenter has allowed in 16 appearances since joining the PawSox. Che-hsuan Lin and Dan Butler both had two hits for the Paw Sox, and De Jesus recorded another hit. He has a hit in each of his five games since joining the Red Sox organization, going 10 for 17.
The pair of victories, coupled with the loss by Lehigh Valley, gives Pawtucket a full 3.0 game lead in the wild card standings, with only four games left to play.
The Portland offense could not get started, generating only five hits in a 6-1 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR). In what may have been his final appearance of 2012, Drake Britton capped his comeback season with a solid, if inconsistent, effort. The hard-throwing left-hander tossed 6.0 innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on four hits, striking out seven, walking one, and hitting a batter. Britton closed the season with a strong stretch, posting a 2.23 ERA in six August starts. Xander Bogaerts broke out of an ugly two-game stretch where he'd gone 0 for 8 with six strikeouts, rebounding by going 3 for 4 with a double. The two-bagger gives Bogaerts 13 extra base hits in only 77 Double-A at-bats.
Michael McCarthy faced off with 2012 #4 overall pick Kevin Gausman, and the Salem right-hander turned in a gem to beat the Frederick Keys (BAL), 3-1. Gausman left after three innings with the score tied at zero, and the Salem offense was able to dig into the Frederick bullpen. Adalberto Ibarra reached based three times, going 1 for 1 with a pair of walks and a run scored, Brandon Jacobs hit his 12th home run of the season, and Sean Coyle had an RBI triple as he continues his late season surge. Meanwhile, McCarthy turned in a gem, allowing one run on four hits in 7.0 innings, striking out six without walking a batter. Charle Rosario tossed a pair of scoreless frames to pick up the save.
Greenville also got a strong pitching performance in its 4-2 victory over the Kannapolis Intimidators (CWS). Mickey Pena made what is likely to be his final start in his breakout 2012 season, and he did so in strong fashion, tossing 7.0 innings to earn his 8th win. Pena allowed only two runs on four hits, striking out six while walking two. Matty Ott, got the save, giving up just one hit and striking out three in 2.0 shutout innings. Attempting to finish strong in a tough first full professional season, Jordan Weems went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles. Garin Cecchini added his 35th double of the year, while Matt Marquis drove in three runs for Greenville.
Lowell was shutout by the Vermont Lake Monsters (OAK), 8-0. Starter Mike Augliera tossed 3.0 shutout innings, but the game got away from the bullpen. Tyler Wilson took the loss, allowing six runs on six hits in his 1.2 innings of work. With the Gulf Coast League season ending on Wednesday, the Spinners got several reinforcements, including Cleulius Rondon, Jose Colorado, Kevin Heller, Kevin Mager, and Nick Moore, but it would not help, as the offense managed only five hits off of Lake Monster pitching.
Player of the Day: Billy Buckner tossed a gem in game one of the PawSox doubleheader sweep, out-pitching highly regarded Braves prospect Randall Delgado. The minor league veteran celebrated his 29th birthday this week, and has really helped to stabilize a Pawtuket staff that lost seveal veterans at midseason. In his last nine starts, Buckner is 7-2 with a a fantastic 1.78 ERA and 0.970 WHIP. Buckner is likely to start Game 1 of the postseason for Pawtucket if it can hold its lead in the wild card race.
Photo credit: Billy Buckner by Kelly O'Connor