April 17, 2013 at 7:00 AM
4/17 Cup of Coffee: While the big league club provided some much needed support for the city of Boston, the minor league squads were winless on Tuesday. In Portland, Xander Bogaerts finally broke out of his slump, and Drake Britton continued to show improved control, as he now has three walks and 16 strikeouts in 14 innings.
Pawtucket has now dropped two in a row, falling to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI), 8-6. Chris Hernandez got the spot start for the PawSox, filling in for Steven Wright who was called up to the majors early in the afternoon. With nobody on and two out in the third, a Justin Henry error extended the inning, and that was quickly followed by a single and home run to give the IronPigs three unearned runs. Hernandez allowed another three-run home run in the fourth, and he departed after five innings, allowing seven runs, three earned, while walking one and striking out four.
The PawSox chipped away at the deficit, as a Drew Sutton double and Jeremy Hazelbaker single scored two runs in the fourth, and RBI singles from Mitch Maier (pictured) and Henry in the fifth brought the game within a run. The PawSox could not muster anything offensively against the back of the Lehigh Valley bullpen, however, as the IronPigs retired the last seven PawSox in order to secure the win. After being scratched the last two days, David Ortiz returned to the lineup and went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. He is slated to rejoin the Red Sox on Friday. Maier, who is trying to play himself into Boston's outfield plans this season, went 3 for 3 with a walk and now has five hits in his first 11 at-bats.
The Sea Dogs got a solid start from Drake Britton, but it was not enough as they lost to the Binghamton Mets (NYM), 7-3. Portland started off strong on offense, with Xander Bogaerts singling and scoring from first on a Tony Thomas double in the first inning. In the second, Heiker Meneses hit an inside-the-park home run to put the Sea Dogs up 2-0. Britton was dominant through three innings, but ran into trouble in the fourth, as a walk and three hits plated three runs to give the Mets the lead. Britton gave up only the three runs in his five innings of work, and he walked one, while striking out seven.
Britton has walked only three batters in 14 innings this season, a promising sign for a pitcher who has had trouble with his control throughout his career. Another good sign for the Sea Dogs was Bogaerts showing signs of life, going 3 for 4 to break out of a 2 for 23 slump.
Salem lost a heartbreaker, falling in the 12th inning to the Potomac Nationals (WAS), 3-2. The teams traded runs in the first, as the Nationals got to Miguel Pena for an RBI single, and Salem answered back with an RBI single from Keury De La Cruz. Pena continued his solid start, allowing one run in four innings, walking two and striking out two. The Nationals scored a run in the sixth to reclaim the lead, but Jose Garcia scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at two.
Nathan Striz tossed three scoreless innings of relief, and after throwing a perfect top of the 11th, Matty Ott gave up three consecutive singles in the 12th to allow the game winning run to score. De La Cruz and Garcia accounted for four of Salem's five hits, although the team did draw six walks, with two coming from Deven Marrero.
Greenville trailed the whole game, eventually losing to the West Virginia Power (PIT), 8-3. After escaping a first inning jam with only one run allowed, Austin Maddox settled down to retire 11 Power batters in a row. He left with two men on in the sixth, and back-to-back doubles plated both runs, bringing his final line to three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings, with one walk and five strikeouts. His ERA is now 6.10 on the season.
Greenville was unable to score until the ninth, when Mike Miller, Drew Turocy, and Jordan Weems all drove in runs to cut the Power lead to five. With the bases loaded and two outs, Mookie Betts grounded out to third to end the game. Miller and Weems each went 2 for 3 with a double, while Turocy went 3 for 4 in his first multi-hit game of the season.
Player of the Day: Mitch Maier reached base four times in the PawSox's 8-6 loss to Lehigh Valley. Maier was activated on Sunday after hurting his left wrist in spring training, and he has made quite an impression on his new team. Maier hit a walk-off home run in his first game on Sunday and is now 5 for 11 with two walks and four runs scored in three games.
Photo Credit: Mitch Maier by Kelly O'Connor
Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer at SoxProspects.com.