August 20, 2013 at 8:08 AM
8/20 Cup of Coffee: It was a big day in the Red Sox system yesterday with the promotion of Xander Bogaerts. With the playoff push on, Red Sox affiliates went 6-1 on the strength of excellent pitching all the way down the system. Another shutout by DSL Sox pitchers clinched a tie for the division championship. Three Pawtucket pitchers also combined on a shutout. Portland, Salem, Lowell, and the GCL Red Sox each gave up fewer than two runs in their victories, and even Greenville, which took the only loss, saw its starter delivery a quality outing.
Pawtucket may be going forward without Bogaerts, but there is plenty of talent on the squad, as evidenced by its 3-0 win over the Buffalo Bisons (TOR). Clayton Mortensen got the start and gave the PawSox six innings of one-hit shutout ball. He struck out five and walked three, and lowered his ERA to 2.95 in moving to 3-0 on the year. Brock Huntzinger struck out two in 1 2/3 innings of shutout relief, and Pedro Beato pitched the final 1 1/3 to pick up the save.
Dan Butler hit his 14th home run of the year and his seventh in the last month, a solo shot in the fourth inning. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Drew Sutton added two hits apiece in the victory.
After struggling in Triple-A, Chris Hernandez seems to have regained his form with Portland, leading the Sea Dogs to a 3-2 victory over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR). The lefty was very efficient, throwing just 88 pitches in his eight innings and allowing two runs on seven hits. Hernandez struck out three and walked one. Noe Ramirez struck out one and gave up one hit in a scoreless ninth, getting his third save.
The bats were led by Michael Almanzar, who went 2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Matt Spring added two hits to break out of a 4-for-31 drought. Garin Cecchini continues to reach base at an excellent rate. The third baseman went 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base, putting his OBP at .419.
Salem throttled the Carlina Mudcats (CLE), 9-2, despite going 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position. The Sox attack struck early, delivering three runs in the second and five more in the third. Blake Swihart had a huge day at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a double, a triple, two RBI and a pair of runs scored. Swihart now has line in August of .345/.351/.473. Keury De La Cruz went 2 for 5 with a triple, David Chester was 2 for 3 with a double and a walk, and Nick Natoli drove in four runs in a 1 for 4 evening.
Being staked to an 8-0 lead made life easy for Heri Quevedo. The right-hander added to a string of solid outings, allowing a run on six hits in five innings. Kyle Kraus went four innings to earn his first save since his promotion to Salem, allowing a run on three hits.
The season has been a struggle for Greenville. Far outside the playoff chase, the Drive took the only loss in the system, falling 5-1 to the Lexington Legends (KC). Brian Johnson took the tough-luck loss in a season that has been full of them. He allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits in six innings, striking out six and walking two. With the loss, Johnson falls to 1-6 despite a strong 2.87 ERA on the year. He is 0-2 in six starts since returning from the disabled list, even though he sports a 1.45 ERA and 0.806 WHIP during that stretch.
Keaton Briscoe was the lone offensive bright spot for Greenville, going 2 for 2 with a double and a walk.
With its 6-2 win over the Connecticut Tigers (DET) and a loss by the Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU), Lowell has taken over first place in the Stedler Division of the New York-Penn League.
Connecticut scored one in the first off of Teddy Stankiewicz, but the Spinners immediately rallied for five in the bottom of the inning. Lowell batted around in the inning, with the biggest hit a two-run double by Carlos Asuaje that scored Kevin Mager and Danny Bethea. Bethea drove in two runs himself as part of a 2 for 4 night. Deiner Lopez was on base three times, going 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored.
The first-inning run allowed by Stankiewicz was only the second he has allowed in his six professional appearances. In the second, the second-round pick walked his first batter of the year, but he and Mario Alcantara were able to pitch around that. Alcantara was excellent in the win striking out eight, while allowing a run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The most impressive performance of the night came from Joe Gunkel (pictured). The 18th-round pick from Division II West Chester (PA) University struck out all six batters he faced. The six-foot-six right-hander now has 24 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings with the Spinners.
The GCL Red Sox and GCL Orioles went into yesterday's contest in a tie in the South Division, and the Sox had some reinforcements to help out with the 5-1 victory, giving them sole possession of first place. Bryce Brentz, rehabbing from a knee injury. hit a two-out grand slam in the fifth inning to open up a 5-0 lead. Brentz, starting at designated hitter, also doubled and walked.
A pair of regular contributors played big roles in the victory as well, Wendell Rijo was on base four times, going 1 for 2 with two walks and a hit-by-pitch, scoring two runs. Jordon Austin was 1 for 3 with a walk and two stolen bases.
Starting pitcher Myles Smith was excellent, striking out four in two scoreless innings. Through three outings, Smith has given up just one hit in five innings while striking out six. Christian Perdomo allowed a run on a hit in three innings, and Keivin Heras went three scoreless to earn the win. Ellis Jimenez pitched a scoreless ninth, his 11th consecutive scoreless appearance.
The DSL Red Sox clinched a tie in the Boca Chica Northwest Division, as their 3-0 win over the DSL Royals gave them a five-game lead with five games remaining to play.
As always, the story was the pitching, as a trio of hurlers combined on a three-hitter. Luis Ramos gave up just two hits in five scoreless innings, striking out five without issuing a walk. Not giving up a free pass has become the standard for Ramos - he has walked just four batters in 57 1/3 innings this season. Algenis Martinez gave up just one hit in his three scoreless innings, and Victor Ramirez struck out two in a perfect ninth to record his 14th save. The shutout lowers the team ERA on the season to an amazing 2.20.
Luis Alexander Basabe had a huge game at the plate, going 2 for 4 with two doubles, a walk, an RBI and a run scored. His twin brother, Luis Alejandro Baseabe, added his first career home run, a solo shot in the ninth inning.
Player of the Day: There were several strong performances on the day, but the performance of Joe Gunkel deserves mention. A huge right-hander who helped West Chester University win the Division II Championship in 2012, Gunkel has been fantastic for the Spinners. After striking out all six batters he faced tonight, he now has retired 24 of the 58 New York-Penn League batters he has faced (41.4%) on strikeouts.
Photo Credit: Joe Gunkel by Kelly O'Connor
James Dunne is a Staff Writer for SoxProspects.com.