September 2, 2014 at 6:00 AM
9/2 Cup of Coffee: Firing on all cylinders, the Red Sox affiliate won the Gulf Coast League championship on Monday, securing its first title since 2006. Several other affiliates had their final regular season contests. Pawtucket, Portland, and Salem all fell in their last tuneup before postseason play begins, while Greenville failed to hold a late lead in its finale. Lowell dropped a back-and-forth matchup as its ninth-inning rally fell short. Game 2 of the Dominican Summer League Finals was suspended in the eighth with the DSL Red Sox trailing.
It was a decisive victory for the Red Sox, who were crowned Gulf Coast League champions for the second time. First-round draft choice Michael Chavis was at the center of the offensive attack. He kicked the scoring off early, driving in a run on a force out in the top of the first inning. Chavis then capped off the blowout with a two-run eighth-inning home run, putting the game safely out of reach.
In between, Javier Guerra (pictured) led off the four-run fifth inning with a solo home run, his second of the postseason. Luis Alexander Basabe had a monster game getting on base four times. The Venezuelan outfielder who celebrated his 18th birthday last week went 2 for 3 with a double, two runs scored, and two walks. Victor Acosta, Trenton Kemp, and Devon Fisher chipped in with two hits apiece. The only starter not to have a hit was recently-signed free agent Rusney Castillo. The $72 million signee was 0 for 3, but worked a bases loaded walk in the second inning that scored Basabe with the game's second run.
The eight-run, 13-hit attack was more than enough for an impressive trio of Red Sox arms. Jake Cosart, the Red Sox third-round pick in June, was dominant in a starting role, allowing just one hit in three shutout innings and striking out five of the 10 batters that he faced. Luis Ramos was credited with the win in relief, giving up a run on three hits in four innings of work. Yankory Pimentel closed out the championship, firing two hitless innings and inducing a ground ball to first baseman Darwin Pena for the final out.
It was the final day of the regular season for the PawSox. Lefty Chris Hernandez got the starting assignment, allowing three runs on seven hits in six innings. He struck out five and walked three, finishing the season at 5-9. Jose Valdez tossed two scoreless innings of relief and Heath Hembree followed with a perfect ninth. The bats had little success against old friend Kris Johnson (MIN) and a pair of relievers, managing only five hits. Ryan Roberts had the only extra-base hit of the day, and Blake Swihart drove in the PawSox lone run, singling home Roberts in the fourth.
The Wild Card winning PawSox will begin a best-of-five series against the Syracuse Chiefs (WAS) on Wednesday at McCoy Stadium.
Despite the loss, Portland finishes its regular season with 88 wins, the most in franchise history. Luis Diaz took the loss, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits in five innings. He walked and struck out three apiece. Carson Blair led the way at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a double.
Portland will take on the Binghamton Mets (NYM) in the Eastern League semi-finals. Like Pawtucket, the best-of-five series begins on Wednesday.
It was a tough loss for Salem, who missed a chance to capture the second-half division title after failing to hold a two-run ninth-inning lead. After starter Heri Quvedo allowed four runs on nine hits in five innings of work, William Cuevas was masterful in relief. The right-hander allowed just one hit in three shutout frames, walking one and striking out four. When he departed, Salem was clinging to a 6-4 lead. However, Wilmington rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth and plated the winning run with two outs in the 10th.
Leadoff hitter Matty Johnson doubled and scored, finishing as the Carolina League leader in both hits (141) and runs scored (104). Carlos Asuaje drove in a pair of runs as part of a 1-for-4 effort, giving him an impressive 101 RBI between Salem and Greenville. Manuel Margot brings his hot streak into the postseason, going 2 for 5 with a double and two RBI.
Salem also begins its playoffs on Wednesday. Myrtle Beach, by virtue of winning the division in both the first and second halves, gets to host all three games of the series.
Monday's loss closes the door on 2014 for the Drive, who failed to qualify for the playoffs. Ty Buttrey turned in a strong start, allowing two runs on seven hits in six innings, striking out five without issuing a walk. Myles Smith fell to his 10th loss of the season, giving up four runs in three innings. At the plate, the Drive had 11 hits but went only 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position. Sam Travis finished off a solid debut season by going 2 for 5 with a double and RBI. Danny Mars broke a 2-for-25 drought by picking up a pair of hits, and Wendell Rijo was 2 for 4 with a walk and stolen base.
The only team with regular season games remaining after Monday, the Spinners dropped below .500 with the loss. Kevin McAvoy started, firing three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and striking out one. The former Bryant Bulldog lowered his ERA to 1.91 with the effort. The Tigers then worked three Spinners relievers for nine runs over four innings. Carlos Pinales took the loss after getting roughed up in the eighth, walking three and allowing a solo-homer as part of a four-run innings. Jordan Betts led off the fourth inning with his 10th homer of the year. Deiner Lopez and David Soplika had two hits apiece.
Game two of the best-of-five DSL Championship was called by rain in the eighth with the Red Sox trailing considerably. The Rangers reached Jervis Torrealba for four runs (two earned) on four hits in 3 1/3 innings, and he will be on the hook for the loss barring an amazing comeback. The Red Sox avoided the shutout with a run in the seventh. Luis Alejandro Basabe led off the inning with a triple and then raced home on a wild pitch, giving the Sox their only run.
Player of the Day: The GCL Red Sox had several fantastic individual performances in securing the Gulf Coast League title, but Luis Alexander Basabe stood out for his effort on Monday. The outfielder was on base four times, doubling and scoring a pair of runs to knock off the Yankees. After hitting only .225 in 2013, Basabe broke out in 2014, with a .269/.376/.415 line across two levels.
Photo Credit: Javier Guerra by Kelly O'Coonor
Photo Credit: Javier Guerra by Kelly O'Coonor