August 18, 2015 at 7:00 AM
8/18 Cup of Coffee: The Greenville debut of Andrew Benintendi was an extended feature, as it took the Drive 13 innings to come away with the victory. Pawtucket's veteran reinforcements continue to help get the squad back on track, as it finally was able to beat the team who has been a thorn in its side. The GCL Red Sox dropped a pitcher's duel, missing a chance to move closer to a playoff berth, and the two Dominican Summer League squads split their contests.
Ravaged by callups to the majors and injuries of their own, the PawSox lost to Syracuse on seven consecutive days earlier in the month. After bringing in some veteran reinforcements, Pawtucket has seen its fortunes change a bit, winning for the fourth time in five games. Carlos Rivero, acquired last week in a trade with Seattle, had two hits including a solo home run in the sixth. Fellow newcomer Chris Marrero had two hits of his own, including a double, in his third game with the PawSox. Major league veterans Allen Craig and Sandy Leon also had two hits apiece to help the cause.
Left-hander Edwin Escobar struggled in the PawSox bullpen for most of the season, but has begun to turn his season around. He drew the start Monday night, scattering four hits across five scoreless innings, striking out three and walking two. In 13 innings across his last three outings, Escobar has allowed only on run to lower his ERA from 8.69 to 5.51. Jorge Marban allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings, striking out three against one walk, and Pat Light closed out the victory, striking out a pair in 1 2/3 perfect frames.
After a quick stopover to batter New York-Penn League pitching to the tune of .290/.408/.540, seventh overall pick Andrew Benintendi made his Low A debut on Monday, batting cleanup and starting in center field. He drew a tough test in flamethrower Tyler Kolek, (MIA) the second overall pick in 2014. The former Razorback lined out, grounded out and walked in three head-to-head plate appearances, and was 0 for 4 with a pair of free passes on the night.
Beyond the Benintendi debut and Kolek hype, Monday's contest turned into a pretty exciting one. Greensboro tied the game at four with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth, and the score stood there all the way to the 13th. J.T. Watkins, responsible for catching yet another marathon game, ripped a one-out triple and then came in to score on a double by Hector Lorenzana. Lorenzana and Nick Longhi had two hits apiece for the Drive, and Joseph Monge had a hit, two walks, and two stolen bases.
Starting pitcher Jake Drehoff allowed all four runs (three earned) in his five innings, walking one and striking out three. A trio of relievers then came through with nine innings of three-hit shutout relief. Making his Greenville debut with significantly less fanfare than Benintendi, Edwar Garcia tossed the first three frames, allowing just one hit and one walk. He gave way to Mario Alcantara, who struck out four and walked one, allowing a pair of hits in his three scoreless innings. The Drive bullpen saved its best for last, as Carlos Pinales (pictured) retired all nine batters he faced to earn the win, striking out four.
In a matchup between the team with the best record in the Gulf Coast League and the team with the worst, the underdog Rays prevailed to end the Red Sox four-game winning streak. The Rays were helped by the appearance of a rehabbing Ernesto Frieri (TB), who threw a scoreless first. Gerson Bautista was up for the challenge, throwing four shutout frames, allowing two hits and walking two while striking out five. It was the fourth time in 10 starts that Bautista has not allowed an earned run, and the eighth time he has allowed two or fewer. In his professional debut, 22nd-round pick Max Watt fired a scoreless fifth inning, striking out one. The Rays reached Nick Duron for a pair of runs to hand the right-hander his first professional loss.
The Red Sox generated little in the way of offense on Monday afternoon. Undrafted free agent Andy Perez continues to swing a hot bat, going 2 for 4 to raise his average to .365 in 18 games.
With a win by the GCL Orioles, the Red Sox division lead shrinks to six games with 11 remaining.
It was a thrilling walk-off win for the Sox, who allowed a tie-breaking run in the top of the 10th only to get two back in the bottom of the inning. Down 3-2, Willis Figueroa led off the 10th with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice by Keibert Petit. Marino Campana hit his 12th double of the season to tie the game back up. A critical wild pitch put Campana on third base with less than two outs, where he would score the winning run on a Luis Yovera sacrifice fly.
Eddy Reynoso had a solid night at the plate for the Sox, going 3 for 4 with a double and a walk. He extended his hitting streak to six games with a second consecutive three-hit effort. Eduard Conde also notched a pair of hits. Starting pitcher Jose Zacarias allowed two runs on eight hits in his five innings, striking out four without walking a batter. Carlos Cortes was excellent in relief, scattering three hits across three shutout innings. After tossing a scoreless ninth, Roberto Medina was on the hook for the loss after allowing a 10th-inning tiebreaker, but the 20-year old ended up going home with the win.
Starter Denyi Reyes continues to exhibit fantastic control, throwing another five innings without issuing a walk. He struck out three, and allowed three runs on seven hits. The 18-year-old righty signed last summer out of the Dominican Republic now has 57 strikeouts against only three walks in 60 innings. Luis Rivero took the loss in relief, allowing three runs on two hits and two hit batters in 1 1/3.
The Red Sox lineup tallied six hits on the night off the bat of only three hitters. Lorenzo Cedrola and Juan Hernandez, the two top hitters this season for the squad, had two hits apiece and combined for all four runs. Cedrola had a triple as part of his effort, while Hernandez doubled and walked twice. Juan Barriento also chipped in with a pair of hits.
Player of the Day: It was something of a quiet day for game action, with both Portland and Salem having off days and Lowell on its All-Star Break. However there was plenty of excitement in the five games that did take place, particularly Greenville's where phenom Andrew Benintendi was making his South Atlantic League debut. However the Drive bullpen stole the show, with none better than Carlos Pinales. The 23-year-old Pinales, in his sixth season in the Red Sox organization, has been a jack-of-all-trades in the Greenville bullpen this season, getting used in short relief, as a piggy back starter, and as a closer. He struck out four of the nine batters he faced on Monday on his way to picking up his fifth win.
Photo Credit: Carlos Pinales by Kelly O'Connor