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May 2, 2013 at 12:15 AM

Cup of Coffee: Matt Barnes’ 10 strikeouts leads Portland to victory

5/2 Cup of Coffee: May Day was a good day for pitching across the system, but only Portland came away with a win. Salem and Greenville were on the wrong side of a pair of walk-offs, and Pawtucket had the day off.


The Matt Barnes-led pitching corps guided Portland to a narrow 2-1 road victory over the Reading Fightin Phils (PHI) in a mid-week matinee.

Barnes (pictured), a right-hander, had his best outing of the season to nab his second win. In six innings, he yielded one run (a fourth-inning homer) on three hits and two walks, while striking out 10. He threw just 80 pitches, 52 of them for strikes.

The Sea Dogs got Barnes some offensive support early, jumping out to a 1-0 lead in the first. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts singled with one out, then scored on right fielder J.C. Linares’ double two batters later. After Barnes coughed up the lead, center fielder Shannon Wilkerson homered to left in the seventh to account for the 2-1 final.

Right-hander Pete Ruiz went 1 2/3 scoreless innings, fanning three to put his season total at 24 in 11 2/3 innings. He allowed one walk and one hit before giving way to Chris Martin. The right-hander faced the minimum number of batters in finishing Reading off with 1 1/3 innings of nearly perfect ball.

Third baseman Kolbrin Vitek (2 for 4) was the only Sea Dog to collect more than one hit.


The Salem Red Sox were in it till the very end, but in the bottom of the ninth, the Wilmington Blue Rocks (KC) got a game-ending home run from Cheslor Cuthbert in a 3-2 win.

The long ball spoiled a solid outing from right-handed pitcher Kyle Kaminska, who made his Salem debut after pitching in four games for the Sea Dogs. Kaminska tossed six innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits and a walk, while striking out four.

Left fielder Matty Johnson (1 for 2, two walks) and third baseman Garin Cecchini were the only other players to have a game of note. Cecchini, SoxProspects.com's April Player of the Month, had a single, a double and two RBI in four at-bats, raising his average to .398 on the season.


It was a similar story for the Greenville Drive visiting the Rome Braves (ATL). Left-hander Cody Kukuk’s five innings of one-run ball were all for naught after right-hander Jason Garcia (4 1/3 innings, five strikeouts, two runs) yielded a walk-off homer to Rome’s Blake Brown in the 10th as Greenville fell, 3-2.

Kukuk struck out five while allowing Rome just three base runners — two on hits, one via walk.

Center fielder Cody Koback had half of the team’s six hits, using his 3-for-3 night to drive in both Greenville runs.

Second baseman Mookie Betts was 0 for 2 with three more walks. He’s batting .153, but with his 19 free passes, his OBP is .333.


Player of the Night: Matt Barnes, who struck out an even 10 over the course of six innings to lead the Sea Dogs to a 2-1 win over Reading. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound right-hander has struggled in his transition to Double-A, but has now pitched well in two of his last three starts. His 12.15 K/9 ratio is still strong, and his 6.75 ERA and 1.75 WHIP will likely come down as he continues to adjust to Portland.

Photo Credit: Matt Barnes by Kelly O'Connor.

Tim Healey is a staff writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.