September 7, 2012 at 7:34 AM
9/7 Cup of Coffee: For the second consecutive night Pawtucket came from behind, beating the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees (NYY) 3-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the best of five International League semifinal.
The Yankees struck first as Chris Hernandez struggled through a tough second inning, allowing three hits, a walk and a balk as Scranton got out to a 2-0 lead. The PawSox lefty soon settled into a groove though, striking out Kevin Russo to get out of the second to start a run of seven consecutive batters he retired. Overall, Hernandez was able to get through 6.0 strong innings, giving up only those two runs on four hits, He struck out five and walked two. It was another solid outing for Hernandez, who, despite only being credited with one win after his promotion to Pawtucket, pitched quite well, posting a 3.59 ERA in 42.2 innings over eight appearances.
Pawtucket got on the board in the fifth as Dan Butler led off the inning by reaching on an error, and was promptly driven home on a double to center by Bryce Brentz (pictured), cutting the deficit to 2-1. In the seventh, the PawSox again took advantage of some sloppy Yankee defense, with Brentz at the center of the rally once more. Nate Spears led off the inning with a pop up inside the left field line that led to a three player collision and went for a double. He then came home on a Brentz single to tie the score. Jon Hee followed with a single that barely eluded second baseman Corban Joseph, rolling into right field while Brentz raced toward third base. Cole Garner's throw to third was wildly off the mark, allowing Brentz to score what would prove to be the winning run.
Meanwhile, the bullpen was mowing through the Yankee lineup. Scott Atchison made his second rehab appearance as he comes back from an elbow injury, allowing only one hit in 1.1 scoreless innings. Atchison would be credited with the win. Will Inman came on to get the last two outs of the eighth inning on a ground ball and a strikeout. In the ninth, Jose De La Torre allowed a pair of base hits, but also struck out two as he kept the Yankees off the scoreboard. Acquired in July in exchange for Brent Lillibridge, De La Torre has recorded saves in both games of the series.
The win gives Pawtucket a 2-0 lead in the playoffs. The final three games will be played at Frontier Field in Rochester, NY - one of several parks Scranton called home this year as its stadium was being renovated. As the PawSox go for the sweep tonight, Billy Buckner takes the mound against left-hander Matt Tracy. Buckner was superb down the stretch, going 7-2 with a 1.78 ERA and 0.970 WHIP in his last nine starts, helping propel Pawtucket to the wild card. Tracy, a 24th round pick by the Yankees in the 2011 draft, will be making only his second Triple-A appearance. He earned the late promotion after a solid season with Tampa of the High A Florida State League.
Player of the Day: Bryce Brentz was involved in all of Pawtucket's runs, driving in the first two on a single and double, respectively, and scoring the third on a hustle play that forced an error. After going 2 for 3 on the night, Brentz is now 3 for 7 with four RBI, a double and home run in the series. The 2010 supplemental first round pick is making his contributions after only five games of experience at the Triple-A level; he was promoted from Portland with a week to go in the regular season after compiling a .296/.355/.478 line with the Sea Dogs.
Photo credit: Bryce Brentz by Kelly O'Connor