April 15, 2014 at 6:00 AM
4/15 Cup of Coffee: Top-10 prospects Anthony Ranaudo and Henry Owens were not sharp, but both were lifted up by nine-run outbursts as Pawtucket and Portland picked up victories. Salem's hot start is becoming a distant memory as it dropped its fourth in a row, while the Greenville bullpen struggled to end the Drive's five-game winning streak.
Pawtucket pounded out 15 hits in its 9-5 win over the Rochester Red Wings (MIN). Bryce Brentz led the attack, with a 3-for-5 evening that included a seventh-inning solo homer. Ryan Lavarnway also added three hits for the PawSox, and has now reached safely in six straight after starting the year 0 for 14. Justin Henry reached base four times, going 1 for 2 with a walk, and Alex Hassan drove in a pair as part of his 2-for-4 effort.
Starter Anthony Ranaudo has yet to get on track in 2014. The tall right-hander picked up his first win of the year, but has allowed at least four runs in each of his three starts. On Monday, Ranaudo gave up five on eight hits in five innings. Veteran left-hander Rich Hill was excellent in relief, giving up only one hit and striking out three without issuing a walk in 2 2/3 innings.
The offense picked up starter Henry Owens in his first tough outing of the season as Portland knocked off the Binghamton Mets (NYM), 9-4. Owens entered the night without having allowed a run through 12 2/3 innings in his first two starts en route to winning the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week. He cruised through the first two innings, retiring six of the first seven batters he faced, but allowed a pair of two-run homers in the third. SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall was in attendance at Hadlock Field, and observed that Owens lost his release point during that inning. Robby Scott picked up the win in relief, striking out three and allowing only one hit in 2 1/3 innings. and Miguel Celestino added an additional 1 2/3.
Some stellar offensive performances overcame Owens' difficult start. Sean Coyle (pictured, above) had three hits including a two-run home run in the second. He stole a pair of bases and scored three times on the night. Mookie Betts has not let up since the season began - he has reached base in all 11 Portland games, and multiple times in all except one contest, earning honors as the Eastern League Player of the Week for his stellar play. On Tuesday he delivered his sixth double of the young season as part of a 2-for-5 effort. Peter Hissey also had a two-hit night for the Sea Dogs.
After winning six of its first seven, Salem dropped its fourth in a row, falling 9-6 to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX) in morning action. Kyle Kraus struggled, giving five runs on eight hits in five frames. Madison Younginer could not stop the Pelicans attack, taking the loss in relief while allowing three runs in 2 2/3, walking three without recording a strikeout. At the plate, Kevin Heller continues to impress. The Amherst College product was 2 for 3 with a double and a pair of walks, and has reached safely in all eight games in which he has appeared. Jonathan Roof added three hits, included his fifth double of the year.
Greenville saw its five-game winning streak halted in an 11-3 loss to the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY). Drive starter Cody Kukuk kept his Palmetto State rivals in check, allowing just one run on four hits in five innings, and walking just one while recording an impressive eight strikeouts. Kukuk turned the ball over in a 1-1 tie, but the bullpen could not keep the RiverDogs down. Jacob Dahlstrand took the loss, giving up seven runs in 2 1/3, as the 6-foot-5 righty fell to 1-1 on the season.
Wendell Rijo was the star for Greenville. The night after hitting his first professional home run, the second baseman doubled and walked as part of a 2 for 3 night. Rijo has hit safely in five straight.
Player of the Day: Sean Coyle is off to a solid start in 2014, and it is all the more impressive when considering he is also learning third base. With a logjam at second base due to the rapid ascent of Mookie Betts, Coyle worked out at third this spring and has seen action there in seven of Portland's first 11 games. The move hasn't had any negative effect on Coyle's bat, as he clubbed his second home run of the young season and stole a pair of bases in Portland's 9-4 win. Overall, Coyle is hitting .343/.410/.543 thus far.
Photo Credit: Sean Coyle by Kelly O'Connor
Photo Credit: Sean Coyle by Kelly O'Connor