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May 26, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Johnson, Britton strong in losing efforts

5/25 Cup of Coffee: It was a quiet night for the bats of the affiliates, as they managed only 10 runs over four games. The pitching was solid, led by a pair of 2012 draftees in the lower minors. 


Thanks to a balanced offensive attack, the PawSox were able to edge the Louisville Bats (CIN), 6-5. Pawtucket got on the board first in the top of the second, when Louisville's shortstop made an error to allow one run to score. Later that inning, Drew Sutton hit a three-run double to put the PawSox up by four. The Bats answered right back, plating three runs in the home half of the second off Steven Wright, and they added two more in the sixth to take a one-run lead. Wright allowed five runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings. 

After Ryan Lavarnway doubled with one out in the top of the seventh, Brandon Snyder belted a two-run home run to reclaim the lead for the PawSox. Graham Godfrey and Ryan Rowland-Smith combined for 3 2/3 innings of one-hit relief work to secure the victory. Rowland-Smith picked up his first save of the season, as he lowered his ERA to 0.63 in 26 2/3 innings. Sutton, Lavarnway, Snyder, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Brock Holt all had two hits in the game.


Portland was in control for most of the game but let it slip away at the end, falling to the Binghamton Mets (NYM), 3-2 in 10 innings. Drake Britton threw five shutout innings, allowing only two hits, while also walking four and striking out five. It was his first scoreless appearance of the year, but he also matched his season high for walks and threw 93 pitches. 

He was spotted an early lead after Matty Johnson, Shannon Wilkerson and Xander Bogaerts hit three consecutive two-out singles in the third to put the Sea Dogs up by two. Rafael Perez pitched a perfect sixth inning in his Sea Dog debut, but Pete Ruiz allowed a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game. 

With the score still knotted up at two in the tenth, Will Latimer walked the leadoff man and then issued an intentional walk after a sacrifice bunt moved the runner into scoring position. Latimer got what he needed, a groundball to first, but Travis Shaw threw the ball high to Latimer covering first and the winning run scored from second. The Portland offense struggled all day, collecting only one hit after the three singles in the third. 


Mike Augliera's strong pitching performance was not enough, as Salem fell to the Frederick Keys (BAL), 3-2. Augliera scattered seven hits over seven innings while allowing only three runs, and his ERA climbed slightly to 3.44. Despite his solid effort, he picked up his first loss of the season, dropping  to 4-1 in nine starts. 

Salem's best opportunity came in the fifth, when Brandon Jacobs hit a leadoff home run, and David Renfroe, Henry Ramos, and Carson Blair all singled to load the bases with nobody out. The Keys' pitcher was able to bear down, as Matt Gedman grounded into a 1-2-3 double play and Sean Coyle struck out swinging to end the threat. 

Salem had another great opportunity in the ninth, as a Garin Cecchini single and Keury De La Cruz double put the tying run into scoring position. Jacobs hit an RBI ground out and advanced the tying run to third, but Salem was not able to convert, hitting two groundballs right to the Frederick defenders. Cecchini went 1 for 3 with a walk, and De La Cruz went 2 for 4, hitting his 16th double of the year. 


Greenville was shut out for the eighth time this season, falling to the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY), 6-0. Brian Johnson (pictured) was able to stay on track, allowing only two hits and one unearned run in five innings. He walked two and struck out six. The 2012 first-round pick now has a 3.71 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 34 innings this season. 

The Drive were once again led offensively by Mookie Betts, who went 1 for 3 with a walk, but he also committed two errors in the field. Cody Koback also went 1 for 3 with a walk, while adding a stolen base. The Drive only managed five hits on the day, and they also struck out 14 times. 


Player of the Day: It was a bit of a down night on the farm, as Brian Johnson's five solid innings is enough to win the award. Johnson's results this season have been a bit underwhelming, as first-round picks out of major college programs are expected to dominate the South Atlantic League, but he has now put together back-to-back strong starts, and he appears to be trending in the right direction. 

Photo Credit: Brian Johnson by Kelly O'Connor

Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com