May 18, 2015 at 7:00 AM
5/18 Cup of Coffee: The PawSox and Red Sox struggled to produce any offense on Sunday, but the pitching was excellent for the Sea Dogs and the Drive as they rolled to wins. Michael Kopech (pictured) turned in a strong performance on the bump for Greenville, while Justin Haley impressed in Portland. Offensively, Oscar Tejeda continued his hot streak for the Sea Dogs.
The PawSox dropped their third game in a row as the offense was unable to get anything cooking against Clippers pitching, managing just six hits in the contest. Their sole run came from a Luis Jimenez home run, his first since joining Pawtucket. Rusney Castillo reached base twice on a single and a fielder's choice, and both times swiped second base for his fifth and sixth steals of the season. It's the second time in the last week Castillo has stolen two bags in a game.
Starter Keith Couch got himself into a couple of jams early on, walking two in the first and allowing his only run in the second, putting two on with a hit by pitch and a walk and allowing a run-scoring double, one of his only three hits allowed on the day. Reliever Robby Scott permitted the other three runs, allowing two singles before giving up a three-run home run. Zeke Spruill tossed a perfect ninth, fanning two.
Justin Haley earned his first win of the season, going six innings and allowing two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out eight. Haley's control was on point, throwing 60 of his 86 pitches for strikes (70 percent). Reliever Madison Younginer allowed just two baserunners in his two innings of work and Pat Light grabbed the first save of his professional career, allowing a single and striking out one in the ninth.
Number nine hitter Blake Tekotte smacked his first home run of the season, a solo shot to right field. Oscar Tejeda continued his hot streak with a 2-for-4 day, hitting his 13th double of the season. Tejeda is hitting .565 over his last five games. Keury De La Cruz also went 2 for 4 with a double.
Things did not go well for starter Taylor Grover from the outset on Sunday. Grover allowed 10 runs when all was said and done, including three home runs. Grover lasted 3 1/3 innings, giving up six hits and walking three. The start was Grover's first of the season, and while he was pitching well as a reliever, his ERA jumped from 1.80 to 5.40 with the ugly outing.
Aneury Tavarez was responsible for two of the Red Sox' five hits, hitting a solo home run in the second inning and adding a single later on in the contest. Third baseman Jordan Betts hit a double, his fifth of the season. Salem hitters went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
The Drive scored three in the top of the ninth to break a 1-1 tie and extend their winning streak to six games. Starter Michael Kopech has very solid, going five innings and allowing one run (which was not earned), allowing four hits and walking two while punching out seven. The Drive also saw great performances from two relievers, as Williams Jerez earned the win with three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and striking out four. Michael Gunn earned his first save of the season, striking out two of the three batters he faced in the ninth.
Ben Moore, who was 2 for 4 on the day, singled to start things off in the ninth. After Rafael Devers sacrificed Moore to second, Joseph Monge singled in the game-winning run. Deiner Lopez added two insurance runs with a triple.
Player of the day: While Oscar Tejeda's 2-for-4 day may not be outstanding in itself, the fact that he's had at least two hits in five of his last six games is impressive. The 25-year-old owns the highest average (.365) amongst qualifiers in the Eastern League, and has compiled a .510 slugging percentage despite not hitting a home run. His 13 doubles also tie for the league lead. Tejada has been especially hot this month, putting up a .414 average since May 1.
Photo credit: Michael Kopech by Kelly O'Connor