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April 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Ranaudo, Kukuk strong in 2013 debuts

4/10 Cup of Coffee: There were strong pitching performances throughout the farm system last night, but none were better than what Anthony Ranaudo (pictured) did in his 2013 debut. 


Pawtucket improved to 5-1 on the season with a 5-1 victory over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (PHI). Pawtucket scored in three of the first five innings, which was more than enough support for Steven Wright who notched his first victory of the season. Wright had the knuckleball working, allowing one run over six innings, walking three and striking out six. Brandon Snyder put the PawSox on the board with a two-run home run in the second, and he added another RBI with a double in the fourth. Bryce Brentz padded the Pawtucket lead in the fifth with a two-run single, and he has now hit safely in all six games this season.

Pedro Beato pitched the seventh and eighth innings, allowing one hit while striking out three, and Anthony Carter closed the game out with a scoreless ninth. Dan Butler went 2 for 4 with a double from the number nine spot in the lineup, but had some trouble catching Wright, as he was charged with two passed balls on the day.   


Portland was unable to capitalize on some late-game chances, dropping a tough game to the Reading Fightin Phils (PHI), 3-2. After a forgettable 2012 season, Anthony Ranaudo started 2013 on the right foot. Pounding the zone with a fastball that sat 92-94 according to SoxProspects.com Northeast Scout Ian Cundall, Ranaudo racked up six strikeouts with only one walk in five innings. Of the 71 pitches he threw, 48 were for strikes. After entering last year as arguably the top pitching prospect in the system, Ranaudo is once again looking like the pitcher who the Red Sox drafted in the supplemental first round out of LSU in 2010. Daniel Bard was not as effective in relief, giving up two runs on three hits in one inning of work. The one positive for Bard is that 15 of the 18 pitches he threw were strikes, but he was finding too much of the plate, and Reading was ready for it. 

Chris Martin was able to keep Portland within one run with three near-perfect innings of relief, but the Sea Dogs could not take advantage of a couple of golden opportunities in the late innings. In the eighth, Kolbrin Vitek grounded into a double play with the bases loaded to end the threat, and in the ninth, Shannon Wilkerson grounded into a game-ending double play with runners on first and third. Travis Shaw and Michael Almanzar each went 2 for 4 with a double to lead the offense. Almanzar's batting average dropped to .571 with that performance. 


It was a miserable night for Salem, as they were pummeled by Potomac (WAS), 12-4. Salem jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on an RBI double by Keury De La Cruz and an RBI triple from Blake Swihart. It was all Potomac after that, as they got to Salem starter William Cuevas for seven runs in the third to put the game out of reach. Garin Cecchini continued to swing a hot bat, as his 2 for 4 night bumped his average up to .421. He is now 8 for 12 in the last three games. Sean Coyle went 1 for 4 with a triple; four of his seven hits this season have gone for extra bases. 


The left side of the Greenville infield provided all the offense the team would need, as the Drive defeated the Hickory Crawdads (TEX), 5-3Cody Kukuk pitched well in his full-season debut, allowing two runs on three hits in his five innings of work. He struck out four, but was a bit wild, as he walked three and also uncorked a wild pitch. Because of his wildness, Hickory was able to score two runs in the third without hitting a ball to the outfield.

With the Drive down 2-0 in the fifth, Jose Vinicio turned on a fastball and drove it over the right field fence to tie the game. The Drive took the lead in the sixth on a three-run home run by Nick Moore, his first of the season, which proved to be the game-winner. Vinicio had his best game of the year, going 3 for 4 as well as turning three double plays at second base. The bullpen for the Drive was able to keep the Crawdads at bay, with the combination of Braden Kapteyn and Kyle Kraus allowing one run over the final four innings to seal the victory. 

Player of the Day: Coming off a strong spring training, Anthony Ranaudo was able to carry his solid results from Florida up to Portland. After struggling to a 6.69 ERA last season in Double-A, starts like this will help build Ranaudo's confidence and will hopefully set the tone for the rest of the season.

Photo Credit: Anthony Ranaudo by Kelly O'Connor

Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.