August 4, 2015 at 7:00 AM
8/4 Cup of Coffee: It was a tough night in the Red Sox system, as none of the stateside teams came away with a win. Pawtucket faced off against a rehabbing ace in a series opener, while both Greenville and Lowell had pitchers making their debuts at their respective levels. Rain continues to be the biggest nemesis for the GCL Red Sox as their afternoon game was suspended in the second inning. Results were better in the Dominican Summer League. Two pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout in the DSL Red Sox1 win, while DSL Red Sox2 pitchers combined for 13 strikeouts on their way to victory.
It was a tall order for the PawSox, with Stephen Strasburg (WAS) taking the mound for the Chiefs in the second start of his rehab assignment. Making matters tougher was the state of flux that Pawtucket's own rotation is in. With Henry Owens getting set to make his major league debut Tuesday night in Yankee Stadium, and Brian Johnson going on the disabled list with elbow soreness, Monday was a bullpen game.
The PawSox lineup did reach Strasburg for a pair of runs in the second inning when a Mike Miller double plated Allen Craig and Garin Cecchini. But Strasburg struck out 11 batters in his stint. Edwin Escobar drew the starting assignment, and the left-hander continues to have a difficult season. In three innings, Escobar allowed four runs on six hits, striking out and walking one apiece. Robby Scott wasn't able to stop the Chiefs offensive rampage, allowing five runs in his three innings. Tommy Layne and Heath Hembree mopped up, tossing a scoreless inning apiece.
With Yoan Moncada out of the lineup, the Drive lineup struggled for only five hits against a pair of West Virginia hurlers. Among the few highlights: Danny Mars doubled to extend his hitting streak to nine games, and Deiner Lopez had two hits, driving in Greenville's lone run.
It was a tough outing for Luis Ramos in his South Atlantic League debut. The left-hander allowed five runs (four earned) on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Jake Drehoff had a solid outing in relief, giving up just one hit in 2 2/3 scoreless frames, striking out three without walking a batter.
The Spinners fell despite a 13-hit attack that was led by first-round pick Andrew Benintendi (pictured). He had three hits as he rejoined the Spinners' lineup after missing a pair of games, and he now has a hit in six consecutive. Benintendi also scored a run and he delivered his third triple of the season, raising his OPS over .900. Joining the hit parade with two apiece were fellow 2015 draftees Kyri Washington, Tucker Tubbs, and Chad De La Guerra. It was the first multi-hit game for Washington since his promotion from the GCL Red Sox last week.
Kevin Steen pitched out of several jams in his Spinners debut, going five innings and giving up only two runs despite allowing eight hits. He also walked two and struck out a pair. Daniel Zandona allowed three runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings of relief, and the usually reliable Taylor Nunez took the loss by giving up two runs in 2/3 of an inning. Nunez entered the game with a 1.37 ERA and was unscored upon in his previous seven outings. Bobby Poyner struck out four in two perfect innings to keep the game close, but a Spinner rally in the eighth fell short.
Another washout in the Gulf Coast League, with the Red Sox and Rays getting suspended in a second-inning scoreless tie. Starter Jalen Williams had allowed one hit in two frames. The game will resume on Tuesday, followed by the regularly scheduled contest. The constant rainouts has created a difficult schedule for the GCL Sox, who will now play four doubleheaders over the next seven days.
Alejandro Rodriguez and Hildemaro Requena combined for a five-hit shutout. Rodriguez, the starter, tossed the first four innings, scattering three hits and walking two against two strikeouts. Requena picks up his first win of the season in a very strong outing, going the final five innings, allowing two hits, and striking out five without issuing a walk. The Red Sox1 needed only four hits to record the victory. The run scoring rally was a single play, as Hemerson Serven led off the seventh by delivering a triple to left field, with an error on the play allowing him to score. Two of the team's hits came off the bat of Keibert Petit.
The Red Sox2 squad's third straight win allows them to remain five games up in the San Pedro de Macoris division. Yorvin Pantoja got the win to move to 4-0 on the year, allowing a run on four hits in five innings. He struck out eight without walking a batter. Ritzi Mendoza allowed an unearned run in his two innings of work, and Marcos Lantigua tossed two shutout frames for the save. Stanley Espinal had another solid day at the plate, recording his 11th double as part of a 1-for-3 day. He also walked and scored a run. Juan Barriento hit a two-run homer in the fifth, his fourth blast of the season.
Player of the Day: Since being drafted seventh overall in June, Andrew Benintendi has done everything for Lowell except hit for average, and there are signs he may now be doing that as well. Entering the contest with seven extra-base hits and 19 walks in 91 plate appearances, it seemed that bad luck was playing some role in his .222 average on balls in play, leading to an overall .229 batting average. With two singles and a triple in five at-bats on Monday, Benintendi raised that average 24 points, and he now sports a very strong .406 on-base percentage and .507 slugging percentage.
Photo Credit: Andrew Benintendi by Kelly O'Connor