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May 8, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Cecchini's go-ahead home run lifts Salem


5/8 Cup of Coffee: It was an up-and-down day for the affiliates, as Pawtucket and Salem were victorious thanks to Alfredo Aceves and Garin Cecchini, while Portland and Greenville's offenses both struggled in defeats.

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Pawtucket scored seven times without the benefit of an extra-base hit, cruising past the Gwinnett Braves (ATL), 7-3. Alfredo Aceves, who many assumed would be called up to Boston after Joel Hanrahan was injured, made his scheduled start for the PawSox, surrendering two runs in seven innings, while throwing 73 of his 105 pitches for strikes. Aceves gave up a two-run home run in the first inning, but that was all the Braves would get.

Jonathan Diaz reached base four times and scored two runs while filling in for Jose Iglesias as the starting shortstop. Red Sox manager John Farrell told reporters that Iglesias is still sitting out because he is "dealing with some things." Pawtucket's lead was 4-2 heading into the ninth, and they scored three times with only one hit, thanks to two walks, two hit by pitches, and an error. 

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Portland struggled to find offense with Xander Bogaerts still out of the lineup, falling to the Reading Fightin Phils (PHI), 5-1. Anthony Ranaudo saw his ERA balloon to 1.64 after allowing four runs, three earned, in six innings, walking one and striking out six. It was the first time he allowed multiple runs in a start this season. He cruised through the first five innings, with the only blemish coming in the fourth inning when he allowed a solo home run. He retired the first two batters easily in the sixth, but then allowed a home run and back-to-back doubles to plate two runs, and an error by Derrik Gibson scored a third. 

Travis Shaw, playing third base for the first time this season, belted his first home run of the year to account for the lone Portland run. Shaw played third base regularly in Lowell in 2011 after Garin Cecchini went down with an injury, but he played there only sparingly last season. Shannon Wilkerson went 2 for 4 but was also caught stealing. 

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Cecchini launched a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to give Salem a 6-4 victory over the Carolina Mudcats (CLE). Despite being out-hit 10-4, Salem was still able to score six times thanks to four walks and a costly error. Nick Natoli opened up the scoring in the third with a two-run double, and Cecchini capped it off with his home run in the eighth to break a 4-4 tie.

Cecchini and Sean Coyle were at it again, as each player scored twice while going a combined 3 for 8 with three extra-base hits. Kyle Kaminska gave up four runs in 6 1/3 innings, and Matty Ott picked up the win with 2 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.

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The Greenville offense struggled again, as the Drive fell to the West Virginia Power (PIT), 4-2. Pat Light made his first start since April 23 after missing time with an undisclosed injury. He was a little rusty, allowing two earned runs in three innings, walking one and striking out three. Jeffrey Wendelken was strong in relief, tossing four shutout innings to keep the Drive in the game. 

Greenville inched closer with a run in the fifth on a Jayson Hernandez double, and got within a run in the eighth on Kevin Mager's RBI on a fielder's choice. The Power were able to get the run back in the bottom of the eighth, and the Drive's rally fell short in the top of the ninth, as they fell for the 20th time this season. Mookie Betts (pictured) continued to walk at an impressive clip, collecting three more on the day to bring his season total up to  27.

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Player of the Day: Mookie Betts reached base five times in Greenville's loss to West Virginia, going 2 for 2 with three walks. While the two hits raised his average to .171, his on-base percentage now sits at .373 after 82 at-bats. His 12-27 strikeout-to-walk ratio is by far the best in the system, and he is showing rare plate discipline for a 20-year-old who is getting his first taste of a full-season league.

Photo Credit: Mookie Betts by William Parmeter.

Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.

 
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