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April 30, 2013 at 7:29 AM

Cup of Coffee: Montas dominant in nightcap as Drive earn split

4/30 Cup of Coffee: A quartet of home runs powered Pawtucket, Salem came out on top of an anticipated pitching matchup, Greenville split its twin bill, and the rain would not cooperate with Portland.


Pawtucket cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Columbus Clippers (CLE).  The PawSox were originally scheduled to face Trevor Bauer, the top pitching prospect in the Indians system, but caught a break, as the right-hander was scratched in order to be available for Cleveland on Wednesday. The offense responded with a 10-hit attack, including four home runs. Jose Iglesias was first in line with a third inning solo shot, his third of the year. The following inning, Bryce Brentz and Brandon Snyder went back-to-back. It was the second straight game that Brentz has been part of a consecutive home run rally. Snyder added an insurance run with his second solo home run of the night in the eighth, the fifth of the year for the two-time defending SoxProspects.com Player of the Week.

On the mound, Steven Wright got the start. In the knuckleballer's first appearance since being optioned from the major league club last week, he allowed only one earned run on four hits in four innings pitched. Wright struggled some with his control, walking five and throwing a wild pitch. In relief, Oscar Villareal picked up his fourth win of the season, tying him for the International League lead. Villareal tossed 2 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up two hits, walking one and striking out five. Pedro Beato struck out three of the four batters he faced, and Anthony Carter threw a scoreless ninth to seal the win.


Yesterday's game between Portland and the Reading Fightin' Phils (PHI) was postponed due to rain. No makeup date has been announced. Brandon Workman, scheduled to start Monday, will be on the mound Tuesday for the Sea Dogs.


Salem held on for a 5-4 win against the Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC). It was billed as a pitchers duel between Henry Owens and Royals top 2012 pick Kyle Zimmer, but Sean Coyle inserted himself early, leading off the game with a home run. It was Coyle's seventh of the young season and fourth in five games, as the second baseman finished the night 2 for 5 with a pair of runs scored. Blake Swihart reached base three times, going 2 for 3 with a walk, as did Nick Natoli, who went 1 for 3 with two walks and a double.

Owens pitched five solid innings to earn the victory, allowing two runs on three hits, walking two and striking out eight. His most impressive inning was the third. Facing the top of the Blue Rocks order, Owens struck out the side on 13 pitches. Nefi Ogando and Matty Ott were impressive out of the bullpen, combining for three perfect innings. Ott struck out two of the three batters he faced to earn the save.


In the first game of their double header, Greenville fell, 6-5, to the Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL). Starter Austin Maddox struggled out of the gate, allowing four first inning runs. Overall, Maddox gave up six runs on eight hits, including two home runs, in his three innings of work. Yunior Ortega allowed just one hit in three scoreless innings of relief, striking out three. Kyle Kraus retired the side with one punchout in his only inning of work. At the plate, Kevin Mager knocked his first home run of the season, a three-run shot in the first inning. David Chester also went deep for the Drive.


The Drive were able to earn a split with a 3-1 victory in the nightcap. Frank Montas (pictured) entered the evening 0-3 with a 7.88 ERA but was dominant on Monday. The hard-throwing right-hander threw five shutout innings, allowing two Shorebirds to reach base, while striking out nine to earn his first victory of the season. Francisco Taveras picked up his first professional save, allowing a run on two hits in two innings.

Delmarva was unable to retire Nick Moore, as the third baseman went 1 for 1 with a pair of walks. After hitting a home run in the opener, Chester added another extra-base hit, going 1 for 3 with a double and his team-leading 17th RBI. Cody Koback joined in with a pair of hits, driving in a run and scoring another.


Player of the Day: Frank Montas broke out of his early-season doldrums to finish April on a high note. In his five shutout innings, Montas lowered his ERA from 7.88 to 6.00 and his WHIP from 1.75 to 1.38. He now sports a very impressive ratio of 27 strikeouts to only six walks on the year. 

Photo credit: Frank Montas by Kelly O'Connor

James Dunne is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.