July 12, 2015 at 7:00 AM
7/12 Cup of Coffee: A bases-loaded walk in the top of the tenth inning made the difference for High A Salem, who grabbed a tight victory thanks to solid offensive performances from Wendell Rijo (pictured, right) and Yoilan Cerse. Draft pick Austin Rei swatted his first minor league hit for Lowell, while Low A Greenville overcame an early deficit to snatch a win from division-leading Asheville.
A couple of players familiar to the majors, Daniel Nava and Allen Craig, gave the PawSox a big offensive boost, combining for seven hits and four RBI to help snap a 12-game losing streak. Nava, in Pawtucket on a rehab assignment, went 3 for 4 with a double and three RBI from the leadoff spot, while Craig drew the start at first base and went 4 for 5 with an RBI. Third baseman Garin Cecchini also showed well, and appears to be breaking out of a poor run of form at the dish. The 24-year-old finished 2 for 5 with a solo home run, his fourth consecutive multi-hit performance, and is batting .325 in his last 10 games.
Right-hander Keith Couch drew the start in place of left-hander Brian Johnson, who had been slated to take the mound but was called up to Boston a few hours before the first pitch. Couch fared well in spite of the change, turning in six innings – four of them scoreless – and allowing nine hits and two runs while striking out three. Relievers Jonathan Aro and Noe Ramirez tidied things up in the final three frames, with Aro allowing just one hit across two scoreless innings. Ramirez then followed up with a three-up-three-down top of the ninth.
Left fielder Keury De La Cruz and first baseman Sam Travis accounted for more than half of Portland's offense in the loss, in which the Sea Dogs finished 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. De La Cruz turned in the best performance of the bunch, going 3 for 4 with a triple and a run scored, while Travis went 2 for 4. Catcher Jake Romanski knocked in Portland's lone run on a fielder's choice.
The Sea Dogs went through five pitchers in the loss, with starter Danny Rosenbaum lasting just one inning. The left-hander was yanked after giving up four runs on two home runs and three walks, throwing only 38 pitches. He was replaced by right-hander Simon Mercedes, who righted the ship thanks to four scoreless innings. Williams Jerez came on in the top of the sixth, tossing two frames and giving up two runs on four hits against two strikeouts.
Starter Daniel McGrath helped Salem grind out a tight extra innings road win thanks to four shutout innings. The 6-foot-3 Australian – who went down in mid-May due to elbow inflammation – was making his first start since being activated from the disabled list on July 9, and didn't give up a hit while walking just one. McGrath made way for right-hander Aaron Wilkerson, who went the rest of the way, in the bottom of the fifth. Wilkerson improved to 6-1 after throwing the final six frames, allowing two runs on eight hits and striking out five.
Salem had its chances to put more runs on the board but struggled to capitalize, leaving 10 men on base and going 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. Center fielder Forrestt Allday scored the game-winning run after Kevin Heller walked with the bases loaded in the top of the tenth inning. Second baseman Wendell Rijo and left fielder Yoilan Cerse led the way at the dish, with Rijo going 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Cerse came on after an injury to Derek Miller in the bottom of the third and made his mark, finishing 2 for 2 with a double, a triple and two runs scored.
Down 7-3 in the bottom of the fifth, the Drive rode a late-game offensive outburst to a win against the division-leading Tourists. Right fielder Joseph Monge finished 4 for 5 and scored two runs, while catcher Danny Bethea went 3 for 5 with a double, three RBI and two runs scored. Top 20 prospects Javier Guerra and Michael Chavis also turned in solid performances, with Guerra drawing the start at shortstop and finishing 3 for 6 with an RBI. Chavis went 2 for 6, chipping in a double and two RBI.
Right-hander Reed Reilly ran into a buzzsaw after pitching well through the first four frames, allowing five runs in the bottom of the fifth. Reilly gave up seven runs on eight hits while striking out four before making way for right-hander Jamie Callahan, who closed out the contest. The 2012 second-round pick improved to 3-5 after allowing just two hits and one run across the final four frames, chipping in three punchouts.
Catcher and 2015 third-round pick Austin Rei's first minor league hits were not enough to help the Spinners overcome six consecutive scoreless innings as Lowell dropped a game at home. The Spinners have now lost four of their last five games and are 3-7 in the month of July after posting a 10-2 record in June. Rei, a University of Washington product, went 2 for 5 with an RBI triple and two runs scored. Fellow 2015 draft pick Mitchell Gunsolus also chipped in a pair of hits, finishing 2 for 4 with two RBI.
Starter Javier Rodriguez split the first eight frames with right-hander Daniel Gonzalez, with each pitcher tossing four frames. Rodriguez gave up five runs on five hits and walked four, while Gonzalez allowed only one run on five hits and struck out three. Right-hander Taylor Nunez drew the loss after throwing just one inning, giving up two decisive runs in the top of the ninth that broke a 6-6 stalemate.
The Red Sox were held to just four hits in an ugly shutout loss to the second-place GCL Twins, who have had the first-place Red Sox number this season. The Twins, now three games back of first place, are responsible for three of the Red Sox's five losses. 2015 fifth-round pick Jagger Rusconi was the lone offensive bright spot, finishing 2 for 3 with a double.
Starter Kevin Steen turned in a strong four-inning performance, striking out seven and allowing two runs on five hits. Steen got the loss in spite of his efforts, dropping him to 3-1 this season. Right-hander Trevor Kelley threw two scoreless innings in relief, giving up one hit and two walks against two punchouts. Pat Goetze and Yankory Pimentel split the last two innings, closing things out by holding the Twins off the board.
Designated hitter Jesus Perez led the Red Sox at the plate, going 1 for 3 with a double, while right fielder Marino Campana and second baseman Eduard Conde each added an RBI. Starter Roniel Raudes gave up two runs on three hits across five innings and struck out five. Right-hander Shair Lacrus fell to 2-2 after tossing two innings in relief, allowing three runs on five hits and punching out two.
Right fielder Ramfis Berroa finished 2 for 2 with a double, while pinch hitter Jose Toribio chipped in an RBI. Second baseman Freiberg Marin went 1 for 3 with an RBI batting out of the nine spot. Left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez drew the start, tossing three innings and allowing three runs on four hits against four strikeouts. Relievers Luis Rivero and Victor Diaz combined to toss the final five frames, with Diaz improving to 5-1 after holding the Brewers scoreless in the eighth and ninth innings.
The DSL Brewers picked up right where they left off, tacking on five more runs after taking a 3-1 lead on June 20 before the game was halted due to rain. Catcher Carlos Pulido posted the Red Sox only multi-hit game, finishing 2 for 4 with two singles. Center fielder Lorenzo Cedrola went 1 for 4 and added a stolen base and a run scored, while second baseman Jose Lozada went 1 for 4 with a triple.
Right-hander Victor Garcia dropped to 0-2 after allowing three earned runs on three hits and three walks in the initial matchup in June. Left-hander Angel Padron took the mound in the second go-around, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings and allowing three walks against two strikeouts.
Player of the Night: Salem second baseman Wendell Rijo's offensive contributions just might have made the difference in an extra innings win for the Red Sox, and for that he earns Player of the Night honors. Finishing the night 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI, Rijo added to what has been a terrific run at the plate, batting .359 (14 for 39) in his last 10 games. The 19-year-old Dominican, signed as an international free agent in July 2012, currently sits at No. 20 in the SoxProspects.com ranking.
Photo Credit: Wendell Rijo by Kelly O'Connor