May 19, 2013 at 8:30 AM
5/19 Cup of Coffee: Both Portland and Salem rallied for exciting victories, with Matt Spring (pictured) and Deven Marrero each earning game-winning hits. Greenville's comeback attempt fell short, as its tough May continued.
The Indianapolis Indians (PIT) smacked three home runs and doubled up on the PawSox, 6-3. All six of the Indians' runs came off major leaguers on rehab, as they got to Franklin Morales for five runs in four innings and Andrew Bailey for one run in his lone inning of work. Morales allowed a three-run home run in the third and was pulled from the game in the fifth after allowing a home run to Jerry Sands and a walk to Ivan De Jesus.
Bailey was also prone to the long ball, giving up a home run of his own, but he also struck out two and touched 96 mph with his fastball. You can see highlights of his two strikeouts here. Terry Doyle was able to keep the Indians at bay, tossing three scoreless innings with three strikeouts to lower his ERA to 3.38 on the year.
Offensively, the PawSox managed only five hits. Bryce Brentz added a single, and he has now hit safely in nine of his last 10 games. Dan Butler went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk and has now reached base in five straight games. The 26-year-old, who was added to the 40-man roster this winter, is still hitting only .203 on the season.
Down by a run in the ninth, Matt Spring belted a two-out grand slam, as Portland walked off with a 10-7 victory over the Binghamton Mets (NYM). Anthony Ranaudo struggled through the first two innings, permitting two runs on three walks and two singles. He settled down to throw a scoreless third and fourth inning, but he had to be pulled from the game due to a high pitch count. It was the worst outing of a dominant season for Ranaudo, as his ERA rose from 1.35 to 1.64.
It was a back-and-forth contest, as there were six lead changes in the game. Up 6-4 in the eighth, the Sea Dogs brought on Brock Huntzinger for the two-inning save. After three consecutive singles loaded the bases, he uncorked a wild pitch to put the tying run at third base. Following a strikeout and a pop out, he induced a ground ball to short, but Derrik Gibson could not make the play, allowing two unearned runs to score.
The score remained 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth when Spring walked to the plate. After Xander Bogaerts and Tony Thomas singled to lead off the inning, and Shannon Wilkerson worked a walk, the Mets pitcher had already thrown 26 pitches. On the second pitch of his at-bat, Spring got a fastball over the middle of the plate, and he cleared it out for his second home run of the day. In all, Spring drove in six runs, and he now has 14 RBI in only 11 games. Bogaerts went 3 for 5 with a double, and Thomas went 4 for 5 with a solo home run.
Portland was not the only team with a come-from-behind victory, as Salem scored two runs in the eighth to beat the Frederick Keys (BAL), 3-2. Frederick scored twice off Salem starter Michael McCarthy in the second, but that would be the only runs they would score in the game. McCarthy settled down, combining with Matt Price and Nefi Ogando to shut out the Keys over the final seven innings.
Salem got a run in the fourth on a Henry Ramos home run, and then tied the game in the eighth on a Sean Coyle sacrifice fly. The Keys' manager was ejected after the play, as Ramos was ruled to have touched the plate, even though the Keys' catcher had blocked it. After the on-field delay, Deven Marrero roped a two-out RBI double to give Salem its first lead of the game. Ogando struck out the side in the ninth to nail down the save. Garin Cecchini reached base three times, going 2 for 4 with a walk, while Marrero went 2 for 5 with two doubles, and he now has three doubles in his last two games.
It was another rough day in Greenville, as the Drive dropped to 2-14 in May with a 10-8 loss to the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY). Cody Kukuk, who has struggled with control issues all season, walked five batters, while only recording two outs before being pulled. He threw 43 pitches, and only 16 of them were for strikes. Jason Garcia allowed four more runs in relief, and the RiverDogs were up 8-1 after four innings.
The Drive began to claw their way back, scoring two runs in the fifth and then two more in the sixth on home runs from Bryan Johns and Mookie Betts. Down 10-5 in the ninth, the Drive scored three more times, but the hole proved too big to climb out of, as they dropped their sixth straight. Betts continued to be one of the lone bright spots for the team, going 2 for 4 with a home run and a walk. Betts is now batting .429 over his last 13 games, with an OPS of 1.370. He now has more home runs on the season (7) than he does doubles (6).
Player of the Day: Matt Spring's walk-off grand slam turned around what would have been a tough loss for the Sea Dogs on a beautiful afternoon at Hadlock Field. Spring has only appeared in 11 games this season as the backup catcher to Christian Vazquez, but he has made the most out of his playing time, with the 28-year-old now hitting .286/.333/.667 in 42 at-bats.
Kelly O'Connor has some awesome pictures from the game, so be sure to check them out on her website.
Photo Credit: Matt Spring by Kelly O'Connor
Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com