April 26, 2015 at 7:00 AM
4/26 Cup of Coffee: Strong outings from starters Eduardo Rodriguez (pictured, right) and Michael Kopech headlined a solid day from top to bottom for the Red Sox' minor league affiliates. April once again lived up to its reputation for Salem, which postponed its game against Carolina – the team's third postponement in the last two weeks.
Eduardo Rodriguez turned in a remarkable performance for the PawSox, tossing a complete game and striking out seven while allowing only one run on three hits. The 6-foot-2 right hander now owns a 2-0 record this season with a 1.93 ERA. Rodriguez' complete game comes on the heels of another seven inning effort from fellow Pawtucket starter Brian Johnson, who threw a complete game of his own on Wednesday.
While Rodriguez dominated on the mound, it was a first leg to forget for the PawSox at the plate. Shortstop Deven Marrero was the lone standout, finishing 2 for 3 with an RBI double and two runs scored batting out of the No. 7 spot. The top of Pawtucket's order – Jackie Bradley Jr., Blake Swihart, Travis Shaw and Bryce Brentz – went a combined 0 for 12 with four strikeouts.
Despite the PawSox tying the game in the top of the sixth, a rough inning of relief from Zeke Spruill led to a second leg win for the RailRiders. Spruill entered in the bottom of the inning and allowed five hits and four runs, three of them earned, and drew the loss to drop to 2-1 on the year. Starter Noe Ramirez didn't fare much better, lasting three innings and giving up five hits, three earned runs and a walk while striking out two.
The PawSox were held scoreless for the first five innings before producing four runs in the final two frames. Bradley Jr. bounced back from a weak showing in game one, reaching base three times and finishing 1 for 2 with an RBI ground-rule double and two walks. Shaw went 1 for 2 with an RBI, while Marrero chipped in another double and finished 1 for 3.
A five-run bottom of the fifth powered Portland over the Trenton Thunder, with first baseman Jantzen Witte and designated hitter David Chester leading the charge at the plate. Witte finished the afternoon 2 for 5 with a double, two RBI and one run scored. Chester, a 2011 33rd round pick, went 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and two RBI. Witte is off to a blazing start this season with a .365/.386/.500 slash line and 16 RBI in 14 games played. He batted nearly .300 in 65 games down the stretch for Salem in 2014.
Venezuelan right hander William Cuevas earned his second win of the season, going 5 1/3 innings and striking out five while allowing five hits and one earned run. Simon Mercedes went 1 2/3 innings out of the bullpen, allowing a run and two walks while striking out one. Left hander Robby Scott kept Trenton off the board in the final two frames.
Five scoreless innings from starter Michael Kopech (pictured, right) proved an insurmountable hole for Asheville, which failed to get on the board until the top of the seventh. The 18-year-old right hander allowed only two hits while striking out three, and didn't give up any walks. Kopech, a 2014 first-round pick, is now 1-1 with a 1.98 ERA this season.
Left fielder Mike Meyers finished with three of the Drive's four RBI, going 3 for 4 with a home run. Third baseman Michael Chavis and shortstop Javier Guerra each went 2 for 4, with Chavis also scoring a run.
The third game in Salem's four-game series with Carolina was postponed due to inclement weather. The two teams will square off in a doubleheader today at 1 p.m.
Player of the Day: Eduardo Rodriguez has picked up right where he left off after a stellar stretch run for Portland in 2014. Rodriguez is part of a loaded Pawtucket rotation that is perhaps the best in the minors. His complete game and seven strikeouts against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre was more than enough to earn the PawSox a win and himself the nod for Player of the Day honors. The 22-year-old right hander, acquired from Baltimore last summer for Andrew Miller, is rapidly building an impressive minor league resume.
Photo Credit: Eduardo Rodriguez and Michael Kopech by Kelly O'Connor