August 25, 2014 at 8:00 AM
8/25 Cup of Coffee: Trey Ball and Garin Cecchini continued to turn their seasons around, Aaron Wilkerson continued his dominance over the New York-Penn League, and Luis Diaz was one of three pitchers to combine on a shut out for the Sea Dogs. Carlos Asuaje (pictured) had a ridiculous day at the plate, and a suicide squeeze won the game for Lowell.
It was a tough day for the pitching staff, as the Bisons slugged five home runs, including a walk-off grand slam in the 12th. Anthony Ranaudo came up short in his attempt for his 17th win of the season between Pawtucket and Boston, allowing four runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. Dalier Hinojosa allowed two more runs while recording only four outs, and Miguel Celestino allowed the grand slam to end it. Drake Britton tossed 2 2/3 innings of perfect relief, and he has now strung together three straight scoreless appearances.
It was another good game for Garin Cecchini, as he was on base four times with three hits and a walk. He hit his 19th double of the year, with eight of those coming in the last 14 games. Bryce Brentz added his 11th home run of the season, and Dan Butler went 3 for 6 and scored twice. Jackie Bradley, Jr. went 1 for 6 out of the leadoff spot, with an RBI and a strikeout.
The Sea Dogs used a late offensive outburst to back the strong pitching of Luis Diaz, who tossed six shutout innings. He walked one and struck out four while allowing four hits, with only one going for extra bases. Mike Augliera made a rare appearance out of the bullpen, shutting down New Hampshire for two innings, and Robby Scott pitched a scoreless ninth.
The top of the Portland order did most of the damage, with Mike Miller going 3 for 4, Sean Coyle adding two hits and two walks, and Shannon Wilkerson going 2 for 5, but it was Kevin Heller who broke the game open in the eighth. With the bases loaded and one run already in, Heller drove everyone home with a double to center, which all but secured the victory for the Sea Dogs.
Finishing up yesterday's suspended game, Cody Kukuk was wild, yet unhittable, as he struck out six and allowed only one hit in three innings, but also walked four and uncorked a wild pitch. Kyle Kraus picked up the win despite allowing four runs in three innings, and Matty Ott picked up his second save. Carlos Asuaje, Reed Gragnani, Jantzen Witte, and Mario Martinez all had three hits, with Asuaje also adding two walks.
Jacob Dahlstrand went toe-to-toe with Sean Manaea (KC), as both pitchers allowed two runs over seven innings, but Wilmington ultimately won the battle of the bullpens. Taylor Grover gave up two runs over 3 1/3 innings, and Nate Reed allowed an inherited runner to score while recording the final two outs. Asuaje picked right up where he left off, going 2 for 4 with a double and a walk, and Manuel Margot added a double and a walk as well. Matty Johnson went 3 for 5 with a double and a stolen base out of the leadoff spot.
Rebounding from a poor start last time out, Trey Ball allowed two runs, one earned, over six innings, picking up his fourth win of the season. He walked two, struck out four, and induced 10 ground outs. He has now posted a 3.02 ERA over his last 50 2/3 innings, with 34 strikeouts. German Taveras picked up the save with three innings of relief.
Sam Travis launched his third home run with the drive, a two-run shot in the third to help extend the early lead. The rest of the offense combined for seven doubles, with Wendell Rijo accounting for two of them, and Jordan Procyshen adding one as part of his three-hit game.
Aaron Wilkerson continued his blistering pace, stifling the IronBirds over eight innings, with a solo home run being the lone blemish on the day. He struck out eight and walked two as his ERA dropped to 1.88. Mario Alcantara blew the save in the ninth, but the Spinners got the run back in the tenth, giving Alcantara the win.
The Spinners put two runs on the board in the first when Jordan Betts hit an RBI single and ultimately came around to score on a wild pitch. They did not score again until the 10th, when Deiner Lopez's suicide squeeze brought Raymel Flores home from third to plate the go-ahead run. Lopez and Flores were the only two batters to collect multiple hits, and each added a stolen base.
Player of the Day: Even though two of his hits and one of his walks technically happened on Saturday, Carlos Asuaje still ended the two games that finished yesterday 5 for 7 with three walks and four runs scored. The 22-year-old has not missed a beat since being called up to Salem, with his OPS decreasing slightly from .933 in Greenville to .902 with Salem, while his strikeout rate has stayed right around 17 percent.
Photo Credit: Carlos Asuaje by Kelly O'Connor