April 19, 2015 at 8:00 AM
Cup of Coffee (4/19): Explosive offensive showings from the PawSox and Sea Dogs made up for a handful of forgettable performances from the lower-level affiliates. Top prospect Blake Swihart (pictured) continued to swing a hot bat for Pawtucket, which moved into first place in the International League North standings after its sweep of Rochester.
Blake Swihart had a day to remember at the plate, finishing 4 for 5 with two doubles, two RBI and one run scored to lead the PawSox' offensive barrage. Pawtucket combined for 17 hits on the afternoon and finished off the series sweep. Swihart’s four hits tied a career high, and improved his batting average to .406 on the year. Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and second baseman Sean Coyle each finished with two hits, while left fielder Bryce Brentz added an RBI double and went 1 for 4 in the blowout. Coyle also scored three of the PawSox' 13 runs.
Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez went six strong innings and earned his first win of 2015. He allowed just four hits and two earned runs while striking out five. Noe Ramirez and Heath Hembree combined to toss three scoreless innings in relief, with Hembree striking out two in his lone inning of work.
Third baseman Mike Miller led the charge offensively for the Sea Dogs, going 4 for 6 with three RBI and one run scored. First baseman Jantzen Witte had a pair of singles and chipped in three more RBI. Outfielder Keury De La Cruz added an RBI double before being subbed out in the bottom of the second. Portland was superb with runners in scoring position, finishing the game 9 for 20 in that category.
Mike McCarthy threw five scoreless innings and earned the win in his second start of the season. Pat Light tossed two innings in relief, striking out three while allowing Trenton's only run of the night. 6-foot-4 right-hander Madison Younginer made light work of the Thunder in the final two frames, allowing just one hit and posting three strikeouts.
Teddy Stankiewicz was pulled after surrendering the game tying run in the top of the sixth inning, and took his second loss of the season. The 21-year-old right-hander held the Mudcats scoreless for five innings, but had to rely on his defense to keep the game close. Carolina touched up Stankiewicz to the tune of nine hits but struggled to capitalize, leaving eight runners on base.
Salem’s offense stagnated after taking an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Aneury Tavarez finished 2 for 4 with a pair of singles, and scored the Red Sox’ lone run. Cole Sturgeon and Tzu-Wei Lin each had doubles, while center fielder Manuel Margot went 1 for 4 from the leadoff spot.
2014 second-round pick Sam Travis, who went 0 for 4 in the loss, prolonged his early-season slump. The first baseman's average now sits at .161 through Salem’s first nine games.
Five solid innings from right-hander Jeffry Fernandez wasn’t enough to earn the win for Greenville, which dropped a tight 2-1 game to Asheville. Fernandez, a 2011 International free agent signing, struck out five and allowed four hits and two earned runs. Reed Reilly held the line in relief, but Greenville's offense wasn't able to spark a rally.
The Drive managed only five hits, all of them singles, in the loss. Two-hit games from right fielder Derek Miller and first baseman Nick Longhi and a 1 for 3 night from shortstop Mauricio Dubon was the extent of Greenville’s offensive production.
Michael Chavis (pictured, right) bounced back from an 0 for 3 showing in game one, blasting a two-run home run and finishing 1 for 3 with three RBI and one run scored. Rafael Devers also returned to form, going 2 for 3 with an RBI double. Miller and Longhi stayed hot, and each contributed another multi-hit game in the second leg.
Right-hander Aaron Wilkerson drew the start and was shaky in his four innings of work, allowing six hits and all four of Asheville's runs while striking out four. 22-year-old lefty Williams Jerez secured the win after tossing the final three frames, allowing three hits and striking out two.
Player of the Day: Prior to the Rochester series, Blake Swihart was 4 for 19 and struggling to find his offensive touch. He then posted nine hits in 13 at-bats across three games against the Red Wings, helping the PawSox pull off the sweep. Swihart's career day at the dish earns him Player of the Day honors, as the 23-year-old played a decisive role in not only moving Pawtucket to the top of the division standings, but doing so in convincing fashion.
Photo Credit: Blake Swihart and Michael Chavis by Kelly O'Connor