July 19, 2015 at 7:00 AM
7/19 Cup of Coffee: Portland and Greenville each lost in extra innings, while PawSox center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and left-hander Henry Owens (pictured, right) turned in quality performances in a win. Salem starter Trey Ball overcame his command woes to earn his seventh win of 2015, while GCL Red Sox starter Kevin Steen turned in another solid showing.
Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. continued his stellar series against Durham, finishing 3 for 5 with two RBI to help the PawSox take game three of the four-game set. Bradley is now 7 for 15 with 7 RBI and two home runs in his last three games, improving his 2015 slash line to .311/.389/.471 in the process. Pinch hitter Matt Spring added some late-game heroics in the top of the eighth, hitting a solo home run in his first and only plate appearance. Overall it was a solid night at the dish from top to bottom for Pawtucket, which went 12 for 38 (.316) as a team.
Left-hander Henry Owens tossed his second-straight quality start, going six innings and striking out nine batters while allowing four runs, one of them earned. Owens' 94 punchouts this season put him just five off the International League lead, while his 72 hits allowed ranks as the lowest total among pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings. Right-handers Matt Barnes, Heath Hembree and Ronald Belisario split the final three frames, will all three pitchers keeping the Bulls off the board.
The Sea Dogs dropped a heartbreaker in extra innings after letting New Hampshire back into the game in the bottom of the ninth. Down 4-2 heading into the final half inning, the Fisher Cats tacked on two runs to send the game into extras, scoring the game winner in the bottom of the 11th on a walk-off single. Second baseman Carlos Asuaje led Portland with three hits, finishing the night 3 for 4 with a double. First baseman Sam Travis smashed his first Double-A home run, going 2 for 5 with three RBI.
Right-hander Luis Diaz' efforts on the bump gave the Sea Dogs more than a fighting chance at a win. The Venezuelan tossed seven scoreless innings, giving up three hits and two walks while punching out three for his fourth straight quality start. Left-hander Robby Scott and right-hander Madison Younginer each blew their save opportunities, with Younginer allowing three runs on seven hits across the final 2 1/3 frames.
The Red Sox rode a four-run bottom of the fifth en route to win No. 49 of the season, hanging on despite a late Lynchburg push. Deadlocked at 1-1 heading into the fifth frame, Salem's four runs came thanks in part to singles from center fielder Forrestt Allday and first baseman Mario Martinez. Martinez later came around to score on a two-RBI double from left fielder Kevin Heller. Allday and Martinez each finished 2 for 4, with Martinez adding a pair of RBI. Catcher Jordan Weems went 3 for 4 with an RBI double.
Starter Trey Ball improved to 7-8 despite allowing six walks in 5 2/3 innings of work. Outside of his command struggles, the 2013 first-round pick showed well, giving up just one run on three hits against two strikeouts. Ball's walk total now sits at 44, the third-most in the Carolina League this season. Right-hander Kyle Kraus replaced the 6-foot-6 left-hander in the top of the sixth, tossing 2 1/3 scoreless innings before making way for right-hander Taylor Grover in the top of the ninth.
The Tourists' two runs in the top of the 10th proved insurmountable for Greenville, which had fought back to tie the game at 4-4 and sent it to extras thanks to an RBI single from left fielder Mike Meyers. Designated hitter Rafael Devers belted his eighth home run of the season in the bottom of the third, a shot that SoxProspects.com Executive Editor Chris Hatfield and Director of Scouting Ian Cundall saw live. The 18-year-old slugger finished the night 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Shortstop Javier Guerra went 2 for 4 with a walk and a run scored, and is now batting .525 with 14 RBI in his last 10 games.
Starter Ben Taylor gave up one run on four hits against four strikeouts before being replaced by Kuehl McEachern in the top of the fifth. McEachern tossed 4 2/3 frames, allowing three more runs on seven hits while striking out two. Right-hander Ryan Harris fell to 0-3 after throwing the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing Asheville's game-winning run in extra innings.
The Yankees outlasted Lowell in a tight defensive duel, breaking a 1-1 stalemate with runs in the seventh and eighth innings to put the game out of reach. Lowell finished the night with just four hits, going 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and leaving five men on base. Center fielder Andrew Benintendi reached base three times, finishing 1 for 2 with two walks and a run scored. Fellow 2015 draft pick Tucker Tubbs got the start at first base and went 1 for 2.
Left-hander Luis Ramos went five innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out five. Left-hander Randy Perez drew his first loss of the season after tossing 2 1/3 innings in relief, allowing both of Staten Island's decisive runs while walking two and punching out two.
Shortstop Yomar Valentin and center fielder Yoan Aybar powered the Red Sox at the plate, each finishing 2 for 4 with a triple and an RBI. Aybar is off to a hot start in his first Gulf Coast League campaign, as the multi-hit effort was his fifth in his last 10 games. Aybar, who signed for a $450,000 bonus two years ago, was a Dominican Summer League All-Star in 2014, and boasts a .313/.329/.403 slash line this season. Third baseman Roldani Baldwin also helped out offensively, adding two RBI and going 1 for 2 with a run scored.
Starter Kevin Steen turned in another steady performance, tossing four innings and allowing two runs on four hits while striking out four. Steen – selected out of high school in the ninth round of the 2014 draft – has a stellar 0.45 ERA and 21 strikeouts through 20 innings across five appearances this season. Right-hander Yankory Pimentel got the win after throwing two innings in relief. Right-handers Pat Goetze and Algenis Martinez also made appearances out of the pen, and combined to keep the Twins off the board through the final three frames.
Player of the Night: Henry Owens' performance for the PawSox was one of his best of the season to date, as the left-hander put up another big strikeout total en route to a victory. What was perhaps more impressive was Owens' relatively low walk and earned run numbers, just two and one respectively. The 2011 first-round pick now has the floor pretty much to himself in Pawtucket, after two of the system's blue-chip left-handers – Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson – left Triple-A for the big leagues. Based on his last few starts, Owens appears to be enjoying the breathing room.
Photo Credit: Henry Owens by Kelly O'Connor