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August 25, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Starting pitching dominates in tight playoff races

8/25 Cup of Coffee: It was a memorable night on the farm, with possibly the best night for starting pitchers that the system has ever seen. See the end of the post for a breakdown of all the performances. The pitching helped lead the affiliates to crucial wins in tight playoff races, with only the Spinners losing ground on the day. Brian Johnson (pictured) was terrific in his Carolina League debut. 


Despite blowing a late lead, the PawSox managed to escape with a 5-4 victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (NYY). Clayton Mortensen was locked in, pitching seven scoreless innings, while yielding only three hits, one of which was to Derek Jeter. He left with a 2-0 lead, but the bullpen was not able to hold it. 

Rubby De La Rosa allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning, and with the PawSox up 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Anthony Carter came on in relief of Jose De La Torre and allowed both the inherited runners to score as the RailRiders tied the game. 

The game went to the 10th, and the PawSox got a break that allowed them to take the lead. With Justin Henry on first, Heiker Meneses smoked a single to left field. Henry was aggressive, trying to get to third on the play, and the throw from the left fielder hit Henry and caromed into foul territory, allowing the go-ahead run to score. Carter pitched a perfect 10th to close out the victory. 

Dan Butler and Ryan Lavarnway each went 2 for 5, and Butler threw out two runners at second base. The PawSox now lead the International League North Division by a game and a half. 


Keith Couch turned in another solid start for the Sea Dogs, leading them to a 4-2 victory over the Trenton Thunder (NYY). Couch allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings, lowering his ERA to 3.49. Eric Niesen was equally impressive in relief, striking out four and allowing only one hit over the final two innings. 

The game was tied at two in the ninth, until Garin Cecchini laced a two-out, two-run single to put the Sea Dogs ahead. Cecchini extended his on-base streak to 33 games with a walk earlier in the game. Christian Vazquez went 2 for 3 with a walk and a double, and Ryan Dent went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Vazquez is now batting an even .400 over his last 18 games. 


Brian Johnson was impressive in his Salem debut, and the Red Sox escaped with a 4-2 win in 12 innings over the Carolina Mudcats (CLE). Johnson went the first six innings, striking out five and allowing four hits, while holding the Mudcats scoreless. Madison Younginer allowed a run in the seventh, and Matty Ott allowed a run in the ninth to tie the game and send it to extras. 

In the top of the 12th, Matty Johnson laced a two-run double to put Salem ahead. Nate Striz gave up a leadoff double in the bottom of the inning, but the runner never advanced, as Salem increased its lead to four games in the hunt for the Carolina League's final playoff spot. 


Greenville collected 13 hits on its way to an 8-1 victory over the Lexington Legends (KC). Jesus Loya went 3 for 5, and both Mario Martinez and Jayson Hernandez got two hits to lead the Drive. Jacob Dahlstrand threw six scoreless innings, continuing the possibly unprecedented success for the affiliate's starting pitching on the day. 


Lowell was the lone affiliate to lose on Saturday, falling to the Hudson Valley Renegades (TB), 7-4. Teddy Stankiewicz was impressive in his longest outing as a professional, striking out three and allowing three hits in three scoreless innings. Stankiewicz has surrendered only two runs in 13 2/3 innings for Lowell, walking one and striking out 10. Mario Alcantara was hit hard in relief, allowing seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, but only two of the runs were earned, as Lowell committed three errors on the day.

Manuel Margot went 2 for 5, and Carlos Asuaje walked twice and stole a base. Margot is now batting .393 since returning from the disabled list on August 16. The loss dropped the Spinners three games behind Tri-City in the New York-Penn League Stedler division. 


The GCL Red Sox used a four-run sixth inning to squeak past the GCL Twins (MIN), 4-3. The win pushed the Red Sox lead in the GCL South to three games with four games to play. Myles Smith did not allow a hit in his three innings of work, striking out three without walking a batter. 

After Christian Perdomo allowed two runs in the fourth, Joseph Monge cut the lead in half with a single in the sixth, and then Carlos Coste put the Red Sox ahead for good with a three-run double. Ellis Jimenez notched his seventh save with two scoreless innings. 


The DSL Red Sox game was suspended in the third inning due to rain. The GCL Rays (TB) were up 2-0 at the time. 


Player(s) of the Day: Every single starting pitcher was dominant on Saturday, and picking between any of them would simply be splitting hairs. Below are their final lines. Can anyone remember a night with better pitching performances than this?

  • Clayton Mortensen: 7 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 5/2 K/BB
  • Keith Couch: 7 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2/1 K/BB
  • Brian Johnson: 6 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 5/2 K/BB
  • Jacob Dahlstrand: 6 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 4/0 K/BB
  • Teddy Stankiewicz: 3 innings, 3 hits, 0 runs, 3/0 K/BB
  • Myles Smith: 3 innings, 0 hits, 0 runs, 3/0 K/BB
Combined, that is a total line of 32 innings, 19 hits, 2 runs, 22/5 K/BB for Red Sox minor leagues starters on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Brian Johnson by Kelly O'Connor

Jim Crowell is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.