May 15, 2015 at 7:00 AM
Cup of Coffee 5/15: Brian Johnson (pictured, left) was lights out on Thursday while Bryce Brentz supplied the power and Rusney Castillo returned to the lineup after an injury scare in the previous game. Salem and Greenville also received solid pitching outings from Aaron Wilkerson and Dedgar Jimenez, respectively, in their wins.
SoxProspects Managing Editor Matt Huegel was in attendance at McCoy Stadium to see Brian Johnson dominate Columbus clippers over 6 2/3 innings of work. Johnson's curveball was "really on," according to Huegel, striking out four batters with the pitch and eight total. Johnson scattered five hits in his outing with the only extra base hit allowed coming in the third on a solo home run. Perhaps most impressively, Johnson did not walk a single batter in his outing.
Bryce Brentz gave the PawSox all the offense they would need with a three-run blast in the bottom of the third. Rusney Castillo was right back in the lineup on Thursday after rolling his ankle the night before. Although he went hitless, he added an RBI sacrifice fly and made "hard contact" in his at-bats, according to Huegel. Heath Hembree picked up his fourth save of the season for Pawtucket in a perfect ninth.
Portland could not recover from a three-run first, despite collecting 11 hits against New Britain. Oscar Tejeda went 3 for 4 with a double and a run scored and Jantzen Witte went 2 for 4. The hits all came from the top of the order, however, as the five-through-nine hitters went a combined 3 for 20. Portland stranded nine men and went 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Catcher Luis Martinez had the only RBI for Portland on a 2-for-4 night.
Mike Augliera was touched for three runs in the first, but managed to battle into the seventh. He allowed six hits, struck out five and walked two.
Salem pitchers outdueled their Dash counterparts, with three Red Sox pitcher combining for the shutout. Aaron Wilkerson allowed only a pair of hits and two walks while striking out five in five innings pitched in his second start at the High A level. Wilkerson, who signed out of an independent league last season, lowered his ERA to 0.68. Right-hander Chandler Shepherd was equally impressive out of the bullpen, striking out five in three innings of work. Mike Adams picked up his third save, stranding the tying run on base.
Salem's offense only mustered four hits, but first baseman Mario Martinez provided the only one that mattered. He drove in the game's lone run on an RBI double in the fourth.
On what could have been a frustrating night for Greenville, number nine hitter Deiner Lopez hit a clutch three-run home run in the seventh to put the Drive ahead for good. Michael Chavis showed signs of breaking out of his slump with a 3 for 4 game, including a double. Mauricio Dubon also had a multi-hit game, going 2 for 3 with a stolen base.
Dedgar Jimenez picked up his second win of the season, allowing just one earned run in six innings of work while striking out three and walking just one. Jamie Callahan, who had a disastrous start on May 9, allowing eight earned runs in 1/3 of an inning, pitched well out of the bullpen. He pitched two shutout innings, giving up a pair of hits, striking out three and walking none. Kuehl McEachern picked up his fourth save of the season for Greenville.
Player of the Night: Now two starts removed from his rough seven-run outing, Brian Johnson continues to show that start was an aberration. He lowered his ERA back down to 2.72 and has 39 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings pitched this season. .
Photo Credit: Brian Johnson by Kelly O'Connor