August 31, 2013 at 9:29 AM
7/31 Cup of Coffee: Two PawSox outfielders, using crafty baserunning and timely hitting, combined to give Pawtucket a walk-off victory. Portland and Salem won in blowouts, while the Drive dropped both halves of a doubleheader. The Spinners and GCL Red Sox won on the strength of their pitching, and the DSL Red Sox lost by one run.
The Pawtucket Red Sox took home a bottom of the ninth walk-off victory beating the Syracuse Sky Chiefs (WAS), 2-1. It was an inauspicious start for the PawSox, who entered the ninth inning knotted with the Chiefs at 1-1. After a pair of strikeouts to start the inning, Quinton Berry walked and, with Justin Henry (pictured) batting, stole second base, his 17th of the season. Henry then singled to center field, scoring Berry and ending the contest.
While the late-inning heroics at the plate seized the victory, it wouldn't have been possible without solid performances from the PawSox pitching staff. Led by starter Clay Buchholz, who was making a rehab start, four pitchers combined to scatter seven hits, walk one and strike out nine in the game. Buchholz, who only lasted 3 1/3 innings, gave up all seven hits and the Sky Chiefs' only run. Starter by trade Anthony Ranaudo pitched four perfect innings in relief, striking out five.
While Pawtucket was in a nail biter, the Portland Sea Dogs cruised to victory over the Trenton Thunder (NYY), winning by a score of 8-1. The Sea Dogs didn't score until the bottom of the fourth inning, but exploded in the later portions of the game by scoring seven runs in the last three frames. First baseman Travis Shaw, designated hitter Michael Almanzar and right fielder J.C. Linares each went 2 for 4 with a home run in the game. Catcher Christian Vazquez went 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored.
While there was impressive offensive on display, starter Chris Hernandez stole the show. The left-hander, making his fifth start for Portland after spending most of the year in Pawtucket, went seven shutout innings during which he surrendered only three hits and two walks. He also picked up five strikeouts.
Aided by a five-run first inning, the Salem Red Sox also won in a blowout defeating the Frederick Keys (BAL), 8-2. The game started off with a bang, as Stefan Welch blasted a three-run home run in the third Salem at bat of the day. Welch's shot was followed by three singles, which led to the other two first-inning runs. David Chester also homered in the game, connecting on a solo shot in the eighth inning.
Five runs was more than enough for the Salem pitching staff led by starter Brian Johnson. The left-hander was solid in his second start for Salem, going five innings and giving up only two runs, while striking out three.
The Greenville Drive were bested in both parts of Friday's doubleheader against the Savannah Sand Gnats (NYM), losing 5-4 and 5-2. Entering the sixth inning in the Drive's 5-4 loss, the game was knotted at three apiece. The Sand Gnats would score two in the bottom of the sixth, leaving the Drive only one chance in the top of the seventh to respond. A Boss Moanaroa homer brought the deficit to one, although ultimately the Drive rally fell short.
All seven runs in the Drive's 5-2 loss were scored in the sixth inning. The Drive struck first in the top half, scoring two runs on doubles from Mario Martinez and Kendrick Perkins. The Sand Gnats would answer in the bottom half with five runs of their own, taking the lead and the victory. Drive starter Jacob Dahlstrand pitched all six innings and surrendered all five runs.
The Lowell Spinners downed the Connecticut Tigers (DET), 3-1 on Friday. The lone run surrendered by the Spinners pitching staff was unearned and came in the seventh inning off reliever Yunior Ortega, who picked up the win. The Spinners staff combined for a strong performance, giving up only six hits and amassing 11 strikeouts in nine innings. Starter Corey Littrell lasted only four innings but was impressive, striking out five, while only giving up three hits. Ortega struck out two in three innings of relief, while Joe Gunkel, who picked up his fifth save, struck out four in two perfect innings.
The DSL Red Sox fell to the DSL Rangers, 2-1 on Friday. Right fielder Franklin Guzman, who went 2 for 4, picked up the team's only RBI on a single in the first. He added a triple later in the game, his first of the season. Starter Carlos Garcia lasted only 1/3 of inning, and was relieved by Jervis Torrealba. Torrealba pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up four hits and one run.
The GCL Red Sox defeated the GCL Yankees by a score of 3-0. Hurler Myles Smith delivered three hitless innings to start the game before being relieved by Jake Drehoff. Drehoff also went three innings, giving up three hits and zero runs. German Taveras and Ellis Jimenez combined to pitched the final three innings of the combined shutout. At the plate, the team collected only five hits, one of which was a home run from Nick Longhi.
Player of the Day: After struggling a bit shuttling between the rotation and the bullpen in Pawtucket, Chris Hernandez seems to have regained his stride as a starter in Portland. Friday's contest was another step in the right direction for the left-hander, as he went seven shutout innings. The 24-year-old surrendered only three hits and struck out five. In five starts in Portland, Hernandez has posted a 1.64 ERA and struck out 19 in 33 innings.
Photo Credit: Justin Henry by Kelly O'Connor.
Luke Lavoie is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.