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July 3, 2013 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Two walk-offs and a no-hitter highlight an epic Tuesday

7/3 Cup of Coffee: Five rainouts on Monday led to a crazy Tuesday schedule, and it delivered one of the most action-packed days in memory. A no-hitter, two walk-offs, two suspended games, and countless great individual performances made Tuesday a day to remember. Portland and Lowell had walk-off wins to sweep their twin bills after both received gems in game one. It was the other end of the spectrum for Greenville, who was swept away in a blowout after being no-hit in game one. The GCL and DSL squads both were suspended by weather, while Pawtucket and Salem were downed.


The only team in the organization whose game wasn't somehow affected by rain, Pawtucket fell 6-4 to the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Rail Riders (NYY). The loss came despite the best efforts of Jackie Bradley, Jr., who hit a pair of solo home runs. The center fielder went 2 for 5, bringing his average back up to .300 and already has 25 extra-base hits in only 170 at-bats. Bryce Brentz also went deep for Pawtucket, a solo shot to the opposite field, his 16th of the season. 

Rubby De La Rosa got the start for the PawSox, coming in riding a 20-inning scoreless streak. After pitching out of a jam in the first, De La Rosa's run came to an end in the second when he allowed a lead-off home run. The right-hander allowed three runs on five hits in three innings, striking out five. While De La Rosa did not walk a batter, his control was shaky - he hit three batters, and threw only 43 of 73 pitches for strikes. Terry Doyle took the loss in relief, allowing three runs, all on solo home runs, in five innings.


In game one of its doubleheader, Portland knocked off the Trenton Thunder (NYY), 4-1. Keith Couch was outstanding for the Sea Dogs, firing a seven-inning complete game and allowing one run on five hits, while walking just one and striking out eight. The eight punchouts equaled the most in Couch's professional career, as he moved to 6-2 on the year. Tony Thomas provided the big offensive blow, a two-run, first-inning blast that gave Portland a lead that it would not relinquish. Garin Cecchini went 0 for 2 with a walk, extending his on-base streak but ending his hitting streak at six.


The Sea Dogs completed the sweep with a stunning walk-off 7-6 win over Trenton. Travis Shaw (pictured) was the hero, leading off the bottom of the eighth by launching a 1-1 pitch over the right-center field fence. It was the second home run of the night for Shaw, who also hit a solo shot in the fourth inning. In addition to the long ball, Shaw also walked twice and scored three runs in all. Portland also got power from an unexpected source - second baseman Ryan Dent hit a three-run blast in the sixth that gave Portland a 6-5 lead. It was Dent's first home run since August 11, 2012. Cecchini again went 0 for 2, but again extended his on-base streak with a pair of walks. He has reached safely in all 10 games since joining the Sea Dogs and in 21 straight across two levels.

Jeremy Kehrt struggled in the start, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits in four innings. Noe Ramirez made his Double-A debut in relief. Entering with two on and nobody out in the fifth inning, Ramirez quickly induced a 5-4-3 double play and retired the next four batters he faced, keeping the game even as Dent led the comeback. However, he could not hold the lead in the seventh, giving up a lead-off home run to  Myles Austin. As the game moved to extra innings, Portland called on Will Latimer, who pitched a perfect eighth to pick up the win. Latimer has not given up a run in six appearances since being activated from the disabled list in mid-June.


It was a rain-interrupted pitchers duel in South Carolina, as Salem fell 1-0 to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX). Starting pitcher Kyle Stroup gave up a run on two hits in the first inning to give Myrtle Beach the lead, and it was all the offense the Pelicans would need. With two outs in the top of the second the tarp was brought onto the field, and the teams had a delay of an hour and 47 minutes. When they returned, there was little offense to be found. Salem notched only four hits on the night, two off the bat of Brandon Jacobs, including his 20th double of the season. Keury De La Cruz went 0 for 4, as he failed to reach base for the first time since May 29, a span of 32 games. 

Salem did get fine performances from its bullpen. Kyle Kraus was unscored upon in five innings, allowing just two hits and striking out four without walking a batter. Matty Ott tossed a pair of scoreless frames, striking out one.


Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati didn't host the only no-hitter in professional baseball on Tuesday. Hours before Homer Bailey completed his gem, Daniel Stumpf fired a seven-inning no-hitter for the Lexington Legends (KC), who won 1-0 in game one of Greenville's doubleheader. Stumpf faced the minimum 21 batters, as Aneury Tavarez reached on a walk in the second inning and was promptly erased on a stolen base attempt. 

Frank Montas was the tough-luck loser, falling to 1-7 on the year. The hard-throwing right-hander allowed just one run in six innings, coming on a first-inning solo home run. Montas struck out six and walked four in the loss.


The Drive offense did not perk up much for the nightcap, a 7-1 loss to Lexington. Tavarez had two of the five Greenville hits and added a pair of stolen bases. Yunior Ortega took the loss, allowing two runs on five hits in three innings. Austin Maddox struck out one in a scoreless seventh inning and has allowed just one earned run in four appearances since transitioning from a starter/piggyback position to a short-reliever role.


Lowell also had a doubleheader and got off to a great start with a 5-2 win over the Connecticut Tigers (DET). Simon Mercedes (pictured) was fantastic for the Spinners, giving up just two hits across six shutout innings, while striking out three and walking two. The 21-year-old signed out of the Dominican Republic has come as advertised, with a 1.20 ERA through his first three starts for the Spinners.

The offense had several standouts as well. Aaron King, a former pitcher in the Giants system who is transitioning to a position player, got the start in right field in his Lowell debut and hit his first professional home run, a solo shot to lead off the fifth. King added a double as part of his 2 for 4 night. Tzu-Wei Lin went 2 for 4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI, extending his hitting streak to seven games, while Manuel Margot went 2 for 3 with a triple, giving him a six-game hitting streak. Cleuluis Rondon and Carlos Asuaje also had two hits apiece.


The Spinners completed the sweep with a walk-off win in game two, 3-2. Once again, Lowell got an outstanding effort from its starting pitching, This time it was Jonathan Aro, who allowed just one unearned run on two hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out two and walking one. Kyle Martin came on in relief with the tying run on third base and two out in the sixth. The ninth-round pick out of Texas A&M has been solid, not allowing a run in his first three professional appearances. Martin induced a ground out to get out of the sixth, but Connecticut got to him in the seventh to tie the game at two apiece.

In the bottom of the inning, Rondon led off with an infield single that was deflected by the pitcher. Lin followed with a base hit up the middle, and Margot was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Asuaje was brought on as a pinch hitter, and he ripped a walk-off base hit up the middle, scoring Rondon and handing Martin his first career victory.

Lin led the offense with a 3 for 4 game, finishing 5 for 8 across the doubleheader. Rondon matched his game one output with another two hits, and Margot played a crucial role despite going 0 for 1, garnering two walks (one intentional) and delivering a sacrifice fly.


Also scheduled to play a doubleheader, weather would not cooperate with the GCL Red Sox in their game with the GCL Rays, as the game was suspended due to rain with the score tied 3-3 in the eighth inning. The contest will be completed on July 10. Before the storm, Daniel McGrath got the start, giving up two runs on four hits in 4 2/3 innings, while striking out three and walking two. Nathan Minnich continues to swing a hot bat, as he went 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles, giving him a Gulf Coast League-leading six on the young season. Deiner Lopez also had two hits, including a triple.

The second game has not yet been rescheduled.


The DSL Red Sox were also halted by rain while leading the DSL Dodgers 7-0 in the fourth inning. Dedgar Jimenez gave up just one hit in four innings, striking out two without issuing a walk. Luis Alexander Basabe was already 2 for 3 with a double, a run scored, and an RBI. Darwin Pena was also 2 for 3, while Juan Hernandez had driven in three with a bases-clearing double.

There is no word when, or if, the game will be made up.


Player of the Day: It is hard to remember a day with so many worthy candidates. On nearly any other day of the year, the performances of Tzu-Wei Lin, Keith Couch, Simon Mercedes, Aaron King, or Jackie Bradley, Jr. would likely have been recognized. However, for his walk-off home run to complete the sweep of the Portland twin bill, Travis Shaw gets the nod. After suffering through a miserable slump for six weeks, Shaw has been rejuvenated. After winning the SoxProspects.com Player of the Week last week, the first baseman delivered a stunning victory for the Sea Dogs late Tuesday night. Since June 14, Shaw is 21 for 61 (.344) with six home runs, 16 RBI and 12 runs scored.

Photo Credit: Travis Shaw and Simon Mercedes by Kelly O'Connor

James Dunne is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.