May 30, 2014 at 7:32 AM
5/30 Cup of Coffee: The highlight of the day came out of Portland, where the Sea Dogs prevailed behind an excellent outing from Henry Owens (pictured). Pawtucket fell after its pitching staff was shuffled, while Greenville could not come up with the big hit. Salem's contest was rained out.
Pawtucket fell 6-3 to the Gwinnett Braves (ATL), though the biggest story was who did not appear in the game. Scheduled starter Rubby De La Rosa was scratched, and it was announced he would get the start for the major league club on Saturday. Jeremy Kehrt filled in admirably, allowing a run on four hits in five innings, striking out four without issuing a walk. Despite the solid outing, Kehrt fell to 0-4 on the season. Jose Valdez allowed four runs (three earned), including a three-run homer in the seventh, in his two innings of work. Chris Resop also surrendered a solo home run, striking out three and walking two in his two frames.
The bats were largely held in check by a trio of Braves arms, including former PawSox Zach Stewart and Pedro Beato. Garin Cecchini broke up the shutout bid with a bases-loaded double in the eighth inning. It was the first extra-base hit by Cecchini since May 7. Shannon Wilkerson and Justin Henry had two hits apiece for Pawtucket.
Portland prevailed in a pitcher's duel, knocking off the New Britain Rock Cats (MIN), 2-1. For his second consecutive outing, left-hander Henry Owens fired seven shutout innings to earn the win. Owens allowed only three hits and struck out five while walking two, and he has now given up only one run in 22 innings over his last four starts.
Noe Ramirez came on in relief. He threw a scoreless eighth and was able to escape a crazy ninth inning with the save. After a one-out single brought the Rock Cats within one, long time Red Sox farmhand Reynaldo Rodriguez (MIN) stepped to the plate. Rodriguez ripped a double to left, but Peter Hissey fired the ball in quickly to Deven Marrero, who relayed home to Blake Swihart. As the runner retreated to third, Swihart threw to Derrik Gibson to cut him down for the second out. Rodriguez was then caught between second and third, and Gibson threw to first baseman Stefan Welch, covering second, to catch him and end the game. The contest officially ended on a 7-6-2-5-4 double play.
The Sea Dogs offense managed only two hits, but RBI doubles off the bats of Sean Coyle and Welch provided enough offense to back up Owens. Mookie Betts was 0 for 4, marking the first time in 2014 he has been held hitless in consecutive games.
Salem's game with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans (TEX) was called due to rain. Because the two teams do not meet again in the first half, the game will not be rescheduled.
It was a tough loss for Greenville, who fell 4-2 to the Hickory Crawdads (TEX). It was a frustrating start for Trey Ball, who was unable to get out of the first inning, despite allowing only three baserunners. Seventeen balls were fouled off across six batters, which helped quickly run his pitch count up to 41. The Red Sox organization historically has had limits on pitches someone can throw in an inning, so it is likely that Ball was removed for passing that limit. Overall he allowed a run on two hits in 2/3 of an inning, walking one and striking out one. Jacob Dahlstrand took over for Ball, giving up three runs on seven hits in five frames. Dahlstrand walked one and struck out four. Pete Ruiz had a strong outing as he continues to work his way back from shoulder injury. Facing eight batters, Ruiz induced two ground outs, struck out five, and walked a batter. Taylor Grover threw a perfect ninth.
At the plate, Greenville squandered a series of opportunities, going 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Kendrick Perkins led the offense with three hits, including a double. Jantzen Witte also doubled as part of a two-hit night, his South Atlantic League leading 22nd two-base hit of the season.
Player of the Day: Henry Owens delivered another strong outing for the Sea Dogs. His seven shutout innings lowered his ERA to 2.52. He has allowed only one run in his last four starts, and over the last two he has avoided the control troubles that plagued him in earlier outings. Over 14 innings he has walked only three while striking out 11.
Photo Credit: Henry Owens by Kelly O'Connor