April 13, 2015 at 8:00 AM
4/13 Cup of Coffee: The PawSox, for the second night in a row, needed more than nine innings (many more, in fact) to decide the game, but the decision didn't go Pawtucket's way on Sunday. After a 13-inning game the night before, it was up to a couple of position players to fill out the relief corps for Pawtucket. It was a rough day all around for the Red Sox minor league affiliates, as the lineups at pretty much every level were unable to generate much offense.
Eduardo Rodriguez (pictured) made his first start of the season and first for Pawtucket after making a strong impression in the second half of 2014 when he came over to the Red Sox organization. The lefty had a strong outing, permitting just a run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four. Rodriguez got out to a shaky start, allowing two doubles in the first inning, but settled in after escaping a bases-loaded jam with minimal damage.
Rodriguez left with the lead, but Dalier Hinojosa had an interesting 1 1/3 innings of work. Hinojosa gave up three runs on four hits and a pair of walks, but all four of the outs he recorded came by way of the strikeout. Tied in the top of the ninth, the PawSox were able to knot the score at four with a solo home run off the bat of DH Luke Montz, his only hit of the day.
On the offensive side, it was a frustrating day for the PawSox as they left 16 runners on base and collectively went 3 for 17 with RISP. Jemile Weeks went 1 for 5 with a triple and three walks. Jackie Bradley Jr. had three hits (all singles) and drove in a run. Jeff Bianchi went 1 for 5 with a double at the plate, but the really impressive part of his night came when he delivered three innings of relief pitching after the PawSox ran out of pitchers. And as far as position players pitching go, Bianchi did a pretty admirable job, allowing just one run on three hits while not giving up a single walk.
The day was especially rough for Quintin Berry, who went from hero to goat in the matter of minutes. After driving in the go-ahead run for the PawSox in the top of the 16th with a line drive single, Berry took the mound in relief of Bianchi. Berry's first-ever professional pitching performance did not go well, as he walked five of the six batters he faced (the other laid down a sac bunt), allowing the Iron Pigs to win on a walk-off base on balls.
It was a frustrating day for the Sea Dogs as they dropped their series finale against Reading. Starter Mike Augliera lasted 3 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on four hits and a pair of walks, fanning five on the afternoon. Reliever Simon Mercedes was hit especially hard, giving up six runs on six hits (including a home run and a double) in three innings. Though Madison Younginer was able to hold the Fightin Phils scoreless through the last 2 1/3 innings of the day, the damage had been done and the Sea Dogs were unable to generate much offense.
Shortstop Marco Hernandez was the only Sea Dogs player with multiple hits, going 2 for 4 with a double. Henry Ramos and Carlos Asuaje also had extra base hits, both also doubles. In the field, the Sea Dogs made two errors, with Hernandez throwing the ball away on a toss to first (his third error of the young season) and third baseman Asuaje making his second miscue on the year.
The Red Sox got a solid start from Kevin McAvoy, who took the loss (5 innings, four hits, a run, two walks, three strikeouts) but were stifled by the Mudcats' pitching, with Salem's bats looking particularly helpless against Carolina starter Steve Janas (one hit, no runs in six innings, six strikeouts). Reliever German Taveras gave up three runs on five hits and a couple of walks in his first appearance of the year, but righty Austin Maddox was a bright spot for Salem, as he delivered 1 2/3 innings of scoreless, hitless ball.
Salem mustered just four hits on the day, with left fielder Forrestt Allday collecting the only extra base hit (a double). He went 1 for 3 with two runs scored a walk. Third baseman Oscar Tejada struggled mightily against Carolina pitching, fanning three times in four at-bats.
To round out a rough day for the system, the Drive lost a pitchers' duel to the GreenJackets. Starter Jeffry Fernandez was impressive in his first start of the year and his first-ever game in the South Atantic League, tossing five scoreless innings and allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out five. Reliever Reed Reilly was tasked with going the rest of the distance in the game, lasting four innings but giving up the deciding runs on four hits.
It was a lackluster day on offense for the Drive, though Mauricio Dubon stood out. The shortstop went 2 for 4, and has now hit safely in all four of his games this season, posting a .467 batting average. Right fielder Derek Miller drove in Greenville's sole run with a 1-for-5 day, while DH Danny Bethea went 2 for 4 with a couple of singles.
Player of the Day: Even though his solid start could get lost in the storylines of the PawSox' crazy marathon of a game, Eduardo Rodriguez seemed to pick up right where he left off in 2014. Rodriguez displayed excellent command for Portland last season, walking just under two batters per nine innings and striking out almost 9 1/2 batters per nine, and though he did get into some jams on Sunday, Rodriguez showed enough control to escape practically unscathed.
Photo credit: Eduardo Rodriguez by Kelly O'Connor