August 4, 2013 at 9:00 AM
8/4 Cup of Coffee: The Red Sox have been burning up I-95 by making a number of roster pitching changes the last few days — and to much success — but on a busy Saturday on the farm, it was a pair of younger pitchers leaving their mark: Henry Owens for Portland and Mike Augliera for Salem.
Despite 2 1/3 scoreless innings from a still-rehabbing Franklin Morales, and taking a 3-2 lead in the ninth, the Pawtucket Red Sox dropped a 5-3 decision to the Buffalo Bisons (TOR).
The PawSox had originally taken a 2-1 lead in the fourth on designated hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker’s two-run double, one of his three hits on the night. After Buffalo tied it in the sixth, Pawtucket re-took the lead — however briefly — on an RBI groundout from Alberto Rosario in the top of the ninth.
Right-hander Jose Contreras gave up three runs in the bottom of the inning, including a two-run, walk-off homer to Buffalo’s Mike Nickeas to end it. They were the first runs he has given up in four innings spanning five appearances since signing his minor league deal.
Righty Charlie Haeger got the start and went six innings, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits, while walking four and fanning seven. Morales, a lefty, fanned three in his perfect 2 1/3.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts was 0 for 5 with a strikeout, bringing an end to his 30-game on-base streak.
On Sunday, right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will make his Triple-A debut against Buffalo. The 6:05 p.m. matchup will be televised live on NESN.
The Portland Sea Dogs’ 6-1 win over the Bowie Baysox (BAL) featured a number of big performances at the plate, but the most significant development was left-hander Owens’ first Double-A start. He gave up just four hits and two walks, while fanning 11 and keeping Bowie scoreless for six innings.
Righty Bobby Lanigan allowed a run in his three innings to earn the save.
Portland jumped ahead early thanks to first baseman Travis Shaw’s two-run home run in the second. It added another when shortstop Heiker Meneses grounded out in the fourth to bring designated hitter J.C. Linares home, then three more in the fifth. Two were courtesy of a Linares double, the final on Meneses’ single up the middle.
Catcher Christian Vazquez (3 for 5, double) also posted a multi-hit game, his fourth in his last 10 contests.
The Salem Red Sox are without Owens now, but they didn’t have any problem picking up the slack Saturday. Right-hander Augliera limited the Lynchburg Hillcats (ATL) to one hit and one walk in seven shutout innings en route to a 3-0 victory.
Augliera also struck out four while extending his scoreless innings streak to 16 1/3 dating back to July 21. At one point Saturday, he retired 15 batters in a row from the second through the seventh innings.
The game was stuck in a scoreless tie until second baseman Mookie Betts sent a line-drive single to left to score left fielder Keury De La Cruz, who had doubled. Salem added insurance runs in the ninth on third baseman Stefan Welch’s RBI double and catcher Blake Swihart’s RBI single.
De La Cruz and Swihart both went 2 for 4 to collect the team’s only multi-hit games.
A 6-3 loss to the Savannah Sand Gnats (NYM) made it four in a row for the Greenville Drive, who led by a run until right-hander Yunior Ortega gave up four runs on four hits and two walks in his three innings.
Greenville had taken that lead with single runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. Those runs came in on right fielder Aneury Tavarez’ RBI single, shortstop Jose Vinicio’s RBI groundout and Tavarez’ home run to center.
Outside of Tavarez’ 2-for-4, two-RBI performance, second baseman Dreily Guerrero and left fielder Felix Sanchez — the bottom two hitters in the order — had two hits apiece.
Righty Justin Haley turned in a solid start to give the Drive a chance. In six innings, he gave up two runs on three hits and three walks, while punching out a season-high eight.
One big inning and a trio of solid pitching performances were all the Lowell Spinners needed for a 4-1 win over the Batavia Muckdogs (MIA).
Shortstop Tzu-Wei Lin got things started with a two-run single to left to plate left fielder Aaron King and first baseman Nick Moore in the fifth. Center fielder Jose Colorado’s sacrifice fly plated Lin, then catcher Danny Bethea (2 for 4) singled to plate second baseman Deiner Lopez to cap the four-run inning.
On the mound, 2013 draftee Corey Littrell, a left-hander, had the longest outing of his young professional career — three innings — while allowing a lone hit and fanning two. Although righty Jonathan Aro went 4 1/3 and gave up Batavia’s only run, fellow right-hander Joe Gunkel locked down the win with a perfect 1 2/3 innings.
The GCL Red Sox held an 8-1 lead after two and a half innings, but the bats fell silent the rest of the way, and the team ended up losing to the GCL Twins in a 10-8 slugfest.
Sean Coyle, serving as the designated hitter as he continues to rehab a knee injury, had the big blow, a three-run homer in the top of the second. Third baseman Aneudis Peralta (3 for 5) and first baseman Nick Longhi (2 for 4, two doubles) had big days at the plate, as did shortstop Mauricio Dubon, who finished 2 for 4 with a pair of RBI.
First-round southpaw Trey Ball, in his second professional performance, lasted two innings this time around. He gave up a run on two hits while striking out two. Righties Dioscar Romero (three innings, one earned run), K.J. Trader (zero innings) and Stephen Williams (one inning) didn’t fare nearly as well. They each gave up three runs.
The DSL Red Sox fell 4-2 to the DSL Royals despite giving up zero earned runs as a team.
Righty Jose Almonte was charged with all four unearned runs, all of which came in the third, in his three innings. Left-hander Javier Rodriguez went the next four and kept the Royals scoreless.
At the dish, no Red Sox batter had more than one hit, and catcher Pablo Urena’s 0 for 3 day contributed the only RBI.
Player of the Night: Henry Owens, who moved up to Double-A earlier in the week, didn’t miss a beat in his first start with the Portland Sea Dogs. He was utterly dominant in six scoreless innings against Bowie, limiting the Baysox to four hits and two walks, while striking out 11. He threw 61 of his 95 pitches (64 percent) for strikes.
At 21, he owns an aggregate 2.77 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and .180 batting average against in 110 2/3 innings between the two levels — very impressive for a second-year pro drafted out of high school. He is ranked fourth on SoxProspects.com, up from the ninth slot to open the season, and is tops amongst pitchers.
Photo Credit: Henry Owens by Kelly O'Connor.
Tim Healey is a staff writer for SoxProspects.com. Follow him on Twitter @timbhealey.