May 26, 2014 at 6:00 AM
5/26 Cup of Coffee: Little went well in the Boston organization on Sunday. As the major league club is mired in its worst losing streak in 20 years, the minor league affiliates were swept. Despite his best efforts, Brian Johnson (pictured, right, from yesterday's game at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester) took his first Double-A loss as Portland fell in a pitcher's duel. Pawtucket failed to hold a six-run lead, while Salem and Greenville fell victim to five-run innings.
Despite an 8-2 lead in the sixth inning, Pawtucket dropped a 10-9 decision to the Syracuse Chiefs (WAS). A two-run homer in the fourth by Corey Brown got the scoring started for the PawSox, as the ex-Chief went deep against his former team for the second straight night. Pawtucket then added two more in the fifth and four in the sixth to take what appeared to be a commanding lead. Shannon Wilkerson made his Triple-A debut and was 2 for 4 with a double. Dan Butler added a pair of doubles, and Carlos Rivero and Brandon Snyder added two hits apiece.
Allen Webster was strong through five innings, but ran into serious trouble in the sixth. After four singles and a throwing error, the six run lead had been cut in half. Overall, Webster allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits over six plus. Drake Britton struggled again with his control, walking two and allowing a run on two hits in 1 2/3 innings. Britton now has 19 walks in 24 innings, and has walked six without striking out a batter in his last seven appearances. Dalier Hinojosa took the loss, giving up a decisive three-run homer in the eighth inning.
The Portland contest had a very different feel but another one-run loss, as the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR) prevailed 1-0. Despite taking the loss, Brian Johnson continued to build on his breakout season. The former Florida Gator gave up just one run on four hits in seven strong innings, walking one and striking out two. Jose Valdez tossed a scoreless eighth to keep the game within one run, but the New Hampshire bullpen clamped down the win.
Former Baltimore Orioles hurler Radhames Liz, making his first Double-A appearance in his attempt to come back as a knuckleballer, was one of three New Hampshire pitchers to stymie the Sea Dogs. Peter Hissey delivered a double, the only extra-base hit of the day for Portland as part of a 2-for-3 effort. Sean Coyle added a pair of hits, while Mookie Betts was 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base.
Salem never led in its 10-6 loss to the Potomac Nationals (WAS). Cody Kukuk had his toughest outing of the season, allowing seven runs (six earned) and a career-most nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, taking the loss. The Nationals continued the rampage against Kyle Martin, who have up three runs on seven hits in his two innings of work. Dayan Diaz was finally able to slow the assault, tossing 2 1/3 hitless frames.
The loss came despite an 11-hit attack by the Salem offense. Mario Martinez led the way, gong 3 for 5 with a double and a pair of RBI. Reed Gragnani was 2 for 4 with a walk, his 16th multi-hit game of 2014. Jonathan Roof had two hits, and Bo Greenwell added a double.
Greenville took advantage of some early wildness to grab a 4-0 lead in the first but could not hold on, falling to the Augusta GreenJackets (SF), 7-5. Most of the damage against Jamie Callahan came in the fourth inning. After giving up an inside-the-park home run in the second, Callahan was touched for five in the fourth. Overall, the right-hander gave up six runs (three earned) on eight hits in five innings. On a positive note, Callahan notched five strikeouts and now has 42 in 40 2/3 innings on the year. Taylor Grover gave up just one run in his four innings of relief.
In his second rehab start, Stephen Drew was 1 for 3 with a double, but also committed a throwing error in the critical fourth inning. Zach Kapstein had a pair of hits for the Drive, and Carlos Asuaje was 1 for 3 with a triple and two runs driven in. Wendell Rijo walked and scored a run but also was 0 for 3, and he is now mired in an 0-for-18 skid.
Player of the Day: Though his winning streak came to an end, it was another strong start for Brian Johnson. In five starts since joining the Sea Dogs, Johnson now has a 1.84 ERA and 0.955 WHIP. Across two levels, the left-hander has struck out 55 batters in 55 innings while walking only 15. He also has yet to allow a home run on the season.
Photo Credit: Brian Johnson by Kelly O'Connor
Photo Credit: Brian Johnson by Kelly O'Connor