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April 11, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Christian Vazquez lifts Portland to win

4/11 Cup of Coffee: Typical Northeast spring weather postponed the Pawtucket Red Sox after just two innings, but the three squads that did get to play a full game Wednesday all prevailed. The Salem Red Sox and Greenville Drive both won mid-week matinees on the road.


The PawSox, visiting the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI) before their home opener Thursday, got two scoreless innings in before a second rain delay put a premature end to their night. Right-hander Allen Webster threw an efficient pair of innings, striking out four and giving up three hits on just 32 pitches.


Hadlock Field hosted the only home game of the day, with Portland handling the Reading Fightin Phils (PHI), 5-2, thanks to another efficient pitching performance. Left-hander Drake Britton needed just 66 pitches (49 strikes) to toss six innings of one-run, four-hit ball for the win. He also struck out four and walked none.

Down 1-0 in the bottom of the second, the Sea Dogs took the lead on a Derrik Gibson RBI groundout and a Ronald Bermudez RBI double.

Catcher Christian Vazquez (pictured) delivered the knockout blow in the sixth with his first home run of the year, a long fly ball to left that scored Travis Shaw and Tony Thomas.

Vazquez finished the night 2 for 3 with three RBI, two extra-base hits and two runs scored. He also caught two of three would-be base stealers.


On a night when offense wasn’t exactly hard to come by, third baseman Garin Cecchini and first baseman David Renfroe carried the load, as Salem topped the Potomac Nationals (WAS), 7-2, for its second win in three games.

The contest was a close one, 4-2, until Salem put it away with three runs in the eighth. Right fielder Matty Johnson walked and designated hitter Felix Sanchez reached on a bunt. After shortstop Nick Natoli moved them over with a sac bunt, Cecchini lofted a fly ball to left to plate the pair of runs. Two batters later, Renfroe singled to center to score Cecchini.

The inning made Cecchini’s average night a solid one, with most of his two-hit, two-RBI, one-run line coming in the eighth. Renfroe, meanwhile, hit all night. He was a perfect 4 for 4 with two RBI, a homer, a double and two runs scored.

Salem also got impressive performances from a pair of pitchers. First came left-hander Miguel Pena’s five innings, during which he scattered five hits and two runs while striking out four, an outing that earned him the win.

Right-hander Heri Quevedo registered the save with four shutout innings. He struck out five but also walked three.


Greenville also managed to pull out a win, prevailing by a 7-5 margin over the Hickory Crawdads (TEX) on the road. 

The Drive left their mark in the fifth, plating four runs to erase a two-run deficit. RBI doubles from right fielder Kendrick Perkins and shortstop Mookie Betts highlighted the big inning.

First baseman David Chester added a two-RBI single in the eighth to extend the lead, and Betts, a 5-foot-9, 156-pound 20-year-old, wrapped up his best game of the young season with a ninth-inning homer to left to give the Drive a key insurance run.

Right-hander Jason Garcia got the win, going five innings in relief of starting right-hander Justin Haley (three innings, two runs, six walks, five strikeouts). Garcia did give up three runs, but racked up eight strikeouts before giving way to Jeffrey Wendelken in the ninth. The right-hander struck out the side for his first save of the season.


Player of the Night: Christian Vazquez has garnered attention of late for his defensive prowess, but Wednesday was a night of many offensive firsts for the 22-year-old catcher: his first hits of the season (a home run and a double), his first multi-RBI game and his first multi-run game. He has hit above .280 only once in his five-year professional career — .283 with Greenville in 2011 — so his performance at the plate is reasonably a worry. If he can put together more nights like this one, though, Vasquez can legitimize his status as a prospect.

Photo credit: Christian Vazquez by Kelly O'Connor.

Tim Healey is a staff writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.