May 27, 2014 at 7:40 AM
5/27 Cup of Coffee: Memorial Day baseball was friendly to the Red Sox organization. A day after the minor league affiliates were swept and major league club continued its longest losing streak of the 21st Century, the tables were turned entirely. As the Red Sox broke out of their slide on Monday, their minor league teams swept away the competition. Portland prevailed behind a rehabbing Steven Wright, Pawtucket withstood a late rally to get back in the win column, Salem's bats helped to overcome some shaky defense, and every starter notched a hit for Greenville.
Despite a late scare, Pawtucket was able to snap its seven-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Gwinnett Braves (ATL). Anthony Ranaudo was the stopper for the PawSox, delivering 6 2/3 shutout innings to earn the win. He allowed only four hits, and struck out and walked four apiece. Ranaudo has given up only one run in 19 1/3 innings over his last three starts, and has allowed three or fewer runs in nine straight. Leading 3-0 in the ninth, Rich Hill allowed a pair of runs but struck out a pair to seal the win.
Pawtucket's offense did all of their scoring in the fifth inning. After a Mike McCoy double broke a scoreless tie, Ryan Roberts ripped his first home run of the season. McCoy was 3 for 3, and his double was the only extra-base hit of the day for the PawSox. Travis Shaw made his Triple-A debut, playing first base and going 1 for 3 with a sixth-inning single.
With its 6-3 win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR), Portland won for the third time in the four-game series and for the 12th time in 14 games. The Sea Dogs offense had 12 hits, led by Matt Spring (pictured). The veteran catcher was 4 for 4 with two doubles, an RBI, and a pair of runs scored. Blake Swihart, getting the start at DH, hit a two-run homer over the right field fence in the fifth inning and was 2 for 4 with three RBI on the day. Peter Hissey added a pair of hits, and Mookie Betts had a base hit for the 40th time in 47 games.
Steven Wright took the mound for the first time in 2014, as the knuckleballer rehabs from a sports hernia suffered in December. Wright allowed three runs (two earned) in five innings, striking out four and walking only one, earning the win. Regularly a starter, Keith Couch followed with four shutout innings of relief that earned him his first save since 2011. Couch allowed only two baserunners - one on an eighth inning single, and another who reached on an error - and lowered his ERA on the year to 2.22.
Salem blew out the Potomac Nationals (WAS) 13-4 despite committing seven errors and registering only eight hits. Only one of the four runs allowed by Luis Diaz was earned. Salem committed five errors in the first inning behind the right-hander. That was all of the scoring Potomac managed on the day. Diaz lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and striking out five without walking a batter. Justin Haley was fantastic out of the bullpen, giving up only two hits in 5 1/3 scoreless frames, striking out six and walking two. Haley earned his fourth win of the year and lowered his ERA to 1.96.
Reed Gragnani was at the center of Salem's offensive attack. The second baseman was on base four times, going 2 for 3 with a pair of walks and a double. Gragnani scored three times and added three RBI. Salem was able to take advantage of the wildness of the Potomac staff, working eight walks and getting hit with four pitches. Matty Johnson scored three times without getting a hit, walking twice and getting hit by a pitch.
Every starter recorded a base hit in Greenville's 11-3 victory over its Palmetto State rivals, the Charleston RiverDogs (NYY). Tzu-Wei Lin reached base three times, going 2 for 4 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored. Jantzen Witte and Jordan Weems added two hits apiece for the Drive. Stephen Drew was 1 for 3 with a double. After going 3 for 8 in three games with the Drive, Drew will join the Pawtucket Red Sox on Wednesday per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe.
Starter Teddy Stankiewicz allowed two runs on five hits in his four innings of work. The 2013 second-round draft pick struck out a pair but walked four. Raynel Velette tossed three hitless innings of relief, striking out two and walking two to earn the win. Velette is having a strong season out of the Greenville bullpen, with a 3-0 record and 1.90 ERA. Pete Ruiz followed with his 2014 debut. Ruiz, who had the start of his season delayed due to elbow surgery, allowed a run on one hit in two innings, striking out and walking three apiece.
Player of the Day: On a day with several excellent performances, Matt Spring stands out. The veteran catcher was 4 for 4 with a pair of doubles to help Portland get a win in its series with New Hampshire. Spring, an 11-year minor league veteran, was the subject of an excellent profile earlier this month by SoxProspects.com Feature Writer Tim Healey.
Photo Credit: Matt Spring by Kelly O'Connor