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April 26, 2013 at 7:29 AM

Cup of Coffee: Kukuk and Garcia combine for two-hitter

4/26 Cup of Coffee: Pawtucket split its doubleheader in Buffalo, Salem stayed hot, and Greenville's bats awoke in support of some excellent pitching.


In game one of its doubleheader necessitated by Wednesday's rainout, Pawtucket dropped the Buffalo Bisons (TOR), 8-3. The game got off to a tough start for the PawSox, as Charlie Haeger allowed solo home runs in each of the first two innings, while the offense failed to deliver a baserunner until the fifth. However, the knuckleballer settled in, allowing three runs on six hits in his five innings of work, striking out four and walking three. The bats came around, giving Haeger his first victory in his comeback from Tommy John surgery that wiped out his 2012 season. Jose De La Torre offered his support in relief, throwing two hitless innings and walking one with a pair of strikeouts.
After a fifth-inning single by Bryce Brentz snapped the no-hit bid, the offense came roaring back with an eight-run sixth inning. The biggest blows were a three-run home run from Jeremy Hazelbaker that gave the PawSox the lead, and a two-run blast by Dan Butler. Butler was the only player with two hits on the night for Pawtucket, going 2 for 3 with a pair of runs scored.


In the nightcap, Pawtucket failed to complete the sweep, falling 4-0, and moved into a virtual tie with the Bisons for first place in the Northern Division. The PawSox bats were able to generate only five base hits, all singles, off veteran major league starter Ramon Ortiz and the Bison bullpen. Two of those hits belonged to Hazelbaker, who extended his hitting streak to six games. Justin Henry, seeing extended playing time at third base, added a hit. 

Graham Godfrey took the loss, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits, including a pair of home runs, in 3 2/3 innings. Ryan Rowland-Smith continued his excellent work in the PawSox bullpen, delivering 1 2/3 hitless innings and lowering his ERA to 0.79. Anthony Carter also chipped in a scoreless inning, striking out two.


Salem closed out its series with the Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC) with a 7-3 win. The victory in the four-game series comes as Salem's sixth win in seven games and put the team above .500 for the first time all season. It was a solid outing for starter Mike Augliera, who moved to 3-0 on the year. The right-hander pitched seven strong, allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits, while striking out six and walking only one. Matthew Price followed with a pair of hitless innings, walking just one. 

At the plate, Sean Coyle homered for the second consecutive game since returning to the lineup after missing a week with a jammed thumb. The solo shot was Coyle's fifth of the season, tying him with Hazelbaker for the most in the organization. Garin Cecchini remained hot, raising his average to .353 with a 2 for 3 night that included a double, a walk, and a pair of runs scored. Outfielders Brandon Jacobs and Keury De La Cruz had two hits apiece, as both players continue to heat up after slow starts to the season.


The Greenville offense exploded in a 12-1 win over the Lakewood BlueClaws (PHI). In one of the stranger stat lines of the season, Mookie Betts was able to score four runs without a base hit. The selective second baseman walked four times, including once with the bases loaded. Boss Moanaroa drove in four runs, going 2 for 4 with a double, a triple, and a walk. Drew Turocy reached base four times, notching a single, a double, and a pair of walks. David Chester broke out of an 0 for 15 slide with a fourth-inning double.

That was more than enough offense, as pitchers Cody Kukuk and Jason Garica (pictured) delivered a two-hitter. Kukuk allowed just one hit in his five innings of work. The lefty gave up one run, while walking two against two strikeouts and picked up his second win of the season. Garcia followed with four shutout innings, also allowing just one hit and striking out three with one walk. 


Player of the Day: After struggling in his introduction to the South Atlantic League as a 19-year old last season, Jason Garcia has been excellent in 2013. Serving as a piggyback starter, the right-hander has a 3.48 ERA through 20 2/3 innings, and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.50, nearly double his 2012 ratio.

Photo credit: Jason Garcia by Kelly O'Connor.

James Dunne is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.