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July 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Greenville, GCL Sox highlight busy night with sweeps

7/19 Cup of Coffee: It was a busy day down on the farm, with every team in action, and three playing in doubleheaders. Greenville and the GCL Red Sox both came away with sweeps, while the DSL Red Sox won in their completion of a suspended July 2 game only to fall in the regularly scheduled contest. Lowell and Pawtucket eked out one-run victories, Salem was on the other end of a nail-biter, and Portland fell despite getting its offense back on track.


Pawtucket clawed its way to a 4-3 victory over the Durham Bulls (TB) in its first game back from the All-Star break. The PawSox had only one extra-base hit, but ripped seven singles and walked seven times to keep pressure on the Durham pitching. Unsurprisingly, it was Xander Bogaerts who delivered the lone double, driving in a run in the second inning. Every member of the Pawtucket starting lineup reached base at least once in the victory. Steven Wright got the start for the PawSox but went only three innings, allowing two runs on three hits. Wright is a candidate to start on Tuesday for the major league club. Brock Huntzinger earned the win with three shutout innings, while Chris Martin allowed just one hit in 2 1/3 scoreless to record the save. 


After scoring only one run total in its previous five games, Portland finally was able to put up a crooked number on the scoreboard. However, the Sea Dogs still dropped a 7-5 decision to the Reading Fightin' Phils (PHI). Michael Almanzar, who has sputtered in July, showed signs of breaking out of his skid, as he delivered his second straight two-hit game and drove in two. Garin Cecchini was on base twice, going 1 for 3 with a triple and a walk and scoring a pair of runs. Stephen Drew, making his first rehab appearance as he works back from a strained hamstring, went 1 for 4 with a double. Terry Doyle took the loss despite a solid outing, allowing three runs on eight hits in six innings, while striking out five and walking one.


Salem scored early but not often, as the Red Sox fell 2-1 to the Frederick Keys (BAL). Henry Ramos led off the game with a double and came around to score on a Keury De La Cruz sacrifice fly, but that was all the scoring for Salem. The Sox had seven hits, three off the bat of Cody Koback, but went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. The inability to deliver the timely hit spoiled the second straight strong outing by Mickey Pena, who allowed just one run on three hits in six innings, striking out five and walking two. Nefi Ogando took the loss in relief, giving up a run in his two innings.


Greenville took the first game of its doubleheader against the Asheville Tourists (COL), 5-2. Jacob Dahlstrand grabbed the win, allowing a pair of runs on seven hits in six innings. It was the third consecutive start that Dahlstrand has given up two or fewer runs, lowering his July ERA to 2.45. JB Wendelken pitched a scoreless seventh for his ninth save. The offense was led by Jose Vinicio, who went 2 for 3 with a double and a steal, while scoring and driving in two apiece. Kevin Heller also went 2 for 3 with a stolen base. David Chester added a base hit and a walk. 

The Drive completed the sweep of Asheville with a 4-2 victory in the nightcap. The win went to Justin Haley, who is now 5-8 on the season after getting off to a rough 0-6 start. Haley gave up two runs on four hits in five innings, striking out six and walking three. Austin Maddox earned his first professional save, throwing two scoreless innings of relief. Chester was again a force at the plate, delivering three hits with a run scored and an RBI. Aneury Tavarez added a pair of hits, and Mario Martinez had an RBI double.


Lowell came away with a 4-3 win over the State College Spikes (STL). Corey Littrell, the Red Sox fifth-round draft choice out of the University of Kentucky, got the start and threw a pair of scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out one without issuing a walk. Littrell has not been scored upon in his first three professional appearances. Simon Mercedes went five innings to get the win in relief. He was frequently in trouble, allowing nine hits, but gave up only two runs and struck out five without walking a batter. Perhaps the most interesting trinket in the box score was the save by Matt Maloney. It was the first ever save for the left-hander, who is in his ninth season of professional baseball. Maloney, primarily a starter in a career that brought him to the majors for 91 innings between 2009 and 2012,  is working his way back from Tommy John surgery.

Tzu-Wei Lin and Cleuluis Rondon led the way at the plate with two hits apiece. Aaron King continues to play a key role in Lowell's success, as he delivered a sixth-inning, two-run homer that gave Lowell a lead it would never relinquish. Manuel Margot keeps rolling. With a seventh-inning single, he extended his on-base streak to 27 games. 


The GCL Red Sox won game one of their doubleheader 6-2 over the GCL Orioles. The bat of Nathan Minnich (pictured) led the way, as the first baseman delivered a pair of doubles and a walk, driving in two. Deiner Lopez had a double and a triple, and Jordon Austin was on base three times with a single and a pair of walks. Starter Keivin Heras gave up just a run on two hits in four innings, striking out three. Zach Good took the win in relief, and Ellis Jimenez struck out two in a perfect seventh to close out the win.

A 7-0 shutout in game two finished off the sweep and brought the GCL Sox over .500. Starter Edwar Garcia was excellent, tossing five scoreless innings and giving up only two hits and a walk, while striking out five to move to 3-1 on the year. Stephen Williams and KJ Trader each threw an inning of relief to complete the shutout. Joseph Monge and Iseha Conklin had two hits apiece for the offense. Wendell Rijo went 1 for 3 with a walk, a run scored and an RBI. The 17-year-old has been fantastic in July with a .359/.500/.513 batting line. Minnich had three walks, putting him on base a total of six times during the doubleheader.


In the completion of a July 2 contest interrupted by rain, the DSL Red Sox completed a 10-1 win over the DSL Dodgers. Dedgar Jimenez had thrown four innings of one-hit shutout baseball before the postponement. When play resumed, Samir El Halaby took over on the mound and was nearly as dominant, giving up just one unearned run on three hits in five innings, while striking out five without issuing a walk. It was a balanced effort at the plate, as every Sox starter reached base. Luis Alexander Basabe led the way, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, a run scored, and a pair of runs driven in. Darwin Pena added two hits, and Juan Hernandez cleared the bases with a three-run, second-inning double.

The DSL Red Sox were unable to generate the same offense in the regularly scheduled contest, delivering only three hits and falling 4-0 to the Dodgers. Yankory Pimentel took the loss, allowing two runs on seven hits in five innings, while striking out four without walking a batter. Jhon Nunez was a lone bright spot, as the catcher extended his hitting streak to six games with a fifth-inning single.


Player of the Day: In the GCL Red Sox' doubleheader sweep, it seemed like Nathan Minnich was always somewhere in the center of the action. In eight plate appearances he reached base six times, working four walks and blasting a pair of RBI doubles. The Red Sox eighth-round draft choice in the 2012 draft out of Shepherd College in West Virginia, Minnich has been one of the GCL Sox' steadiest contributors in 2013, with a .265/.393/.469 line and a team-leading 10 doubles.

Photo Credit: Nathan Minnich by David Letizi

James Dunne is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.