August 20, 2015 at 7:00 AM
8/20 Cup of Coffee: Recently-promoted Greenville center fielder Andrew Benintendi (pictured) had a coming out party against Greensboro, smashing two home runs to help the Drive grab an extra innings victory. The PawSox had an extra innings odyssey of their own, falling in 13 innings to Syracuse. Lowell dropped its game against Brooklyn, and now sits one-and-a-half games out of the New York Penn League wild card spot, while the GCL Red Sox maintained their spot atop the division standings after grabbing a 4-0 win.
The PawSox tied things up at 1-1 with a run in the bottom of the eighth inning that pushed the game into extra innings, but eventually dropped a heartbreaker of a loss thanks to a Syracuse home run in the 13th inning. Pawtucket had its chances, however, putting a runner on third base in the bottom of the eighth, 10th and 12th innings and finishing the game 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position. Shortstop and leadoff man Deven Marerro paced the lineup at the dish, going 3 for 5 with a run scored. Center fielder Quintin Berry had the Red Sox' other multi-hit showing, going 2 for 4. First baseman Allen Craig went 1 for 6 and chipped in an RBI.
Right-hander Zeke Spruill drew the start and allowed one run on five hits and two walks against three strikeouts. The PawSox relief corps was key to sending the game into extras, with left-hander Robby Scott and right-handers Ryan Cook and Jonathan Aro combining to throw eight scoreless frames. Scott and Aro each fanned three across three innings of work. Right-hander Pat Light took the loss after allowing the decisive dinger in extras, dropping his 2015 record to 1-3.
The Sea Dogs scored three runs in the top of the ninth to break a 6-6 stalemate, and then weathered a nervy bottom of the inning that saw Altoona snatch back two runs before falling short. The final frame featured a pair of Portland home runs from second baseman Carlos Asuaje and left fielder Keury De La Cruz, both of whom were the night's offensive standouts. Both players went 4 for 5 with a double and a home run, while De La Cruz knocked in three runs to Asuaje's two. Right fielder Henry Ramos added a bases-clearing double in the top of the third, finishing 1 for 2 with three RBI and a run scored. The Sea Dogs made the most of their offensive opportunities, going 5 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
Starter Justin Haley allowed five runs on nine hits and two walks against one strikeout in five innings of work. Right-hander Madison Younginer tossed two relief innings, allowing one run on one hit and fanning two before making way for right-hander Simon Mercedes. The Dominican improved to 3-2 despite allowing two runs on two hits and two walks, and was replaced by right-hander Kyle Martin, who entered with two runners on and nobody out. Martin stood tall with with the game on the line, retiring all three batters he faced to earn his fourth save of the year.
The Mudcats roughed up Red Sox starter Ty Buttrey en route to a 16-hit, 13-run performance, scoring seven runs in the first two innings and never looking back. Buttrey struggled mightily before being pulled after just three innings, allowing a season-high nine runs (all earned) on nine hits, five walks and a wild pitch against four strikeouts. Right-hander Brandon Show entered in the top of the fourth and allowed four more runs on six hits and four walks. Right-hander Chandler Shepherd threw 1 2/3 scoreless innings to close things out, but the damage was more than done.
Right fielder Cole Sturgeon shined at the plate in spite of Salem's defensive shortcomings, going 2 for 5 with five RBI, two of which came via a two-run homer in the top of the fifth. Shortstop Wendell Rijo and third baseman Deiner Lopez each had a double and went 2 for 4, with Lopez adding an RBI. Second baseman Yoilan Cerse went 1 for 5 with a double batting out of the leadoff spot and scored two runs.
Center fielder Andrew Benintendi bounced back in a big way from his 0-for-4 Greenville debut on Monday, swatting two home runs – including a solo shot in the decisive top of the 10th – to help lead the Drive to an extra innings win. Benintendi, who also had a two-run blast in the top of the first, finished the night 2 for 4 with a walk and three RBI. Top prospects Rafael Devers and Yoan Moncada also showed well at the plate, with Devers manning the hot corner and going 3 for 5 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored. Moncada got Greenville's rally going in extras, hitting a leadoff double and then showcasing his speed by scoring the go-ahead run from second base on a Devers single. The young Cuban finished 2 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, giving him six multi-hit games in 12 contests this month. Not to be outdone, designated hitter Michael Chavis went 1 for 5 and belted his 15th home run of the season.
Starter Ben Taylor held Greensboro scoreless through the first three innings before allowing four runs across the fourth and fifth frames, finishing his five innings of work having allowed seven hits and a walk against five punchouts. Right-hander Jamie Callahan tossed 2 1/3 frames in relief, giving up the game-tying run in the bottom of the eighth before making way for Kuehl McEachern. The right-hander kept the door open for the Drive offense, striking out one and holding the Grasshoppers scoreless down the stretch.
The Spinners mustered only one run – which came in the second inning – before being shut out the rest of the way in a defensive duel, with the two teams combining for 23 strikeouts and just six hits. Both of Lowell's hits came in the top of the second in the form of back-to-back doubles from first baseman Josh Ockimey and right fielder Tate Matheny. Both players went 1 for 3, with Matheny's double knocking in Ockimey to give him the Spinners' lone RBI of the night.
Right-hander Kevin Steen drew the loss despite turning in a solid performance, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks and matching his season high with seven strikeouts. Right-hander Daniel Zandona – the Red Sox' 21st-round pick in this year's draft – fared even better, tossing four scoreless innings and walking one against six punchouts.
The loss puts the Spinners one-and-a-half games back of the first-place Tri-City ValleyCats in the New York Penn League's Stedler division, and one-and-a-half games back of the State College Spikes in the wild card standings. Lowell has 19 games remaining in its 2015 regular season schedule.
Down 4-3 heading into the ninth inning, the Red Sox tacked on two runs in the top of the frame and then held the line defensively to seal their come-from-behind victory. Starter Roniel Raudes was excellent on the bump, holding the Rays scoreless through the first four frames and finishing his five innings of work having allowed four hits, two runs and a walk against six punchouts. Reliever Pat Goetze allowed two more runs across the sixth and seventh innings before making way for right-hander Carlos Caceres, who improved to 1-1 after tossing a scoreless eighth inning complete with two strikeouts. Right-hander Algenis Martinez drew his third save after throwing a three-up-three-down bottom of the ninth.
Designated hitter Roldani Baldwin played the hero for the Red Sox, knocking in the eventual game winner on a sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth, finishing the day 2 for 4. Third baseman Rafael Oliveras and right fielder Chris Madera each reached base three times, going 2 for 4 with a walk apiece. Oliveras also represented the game winning run, stealing second base in the top of the ninth and then reaching third and finally home after back-to-back sacrifice flies. First baseman Darwin Pena chipped in an RBI triple, finishing the day 1 for 3 with a walk.
The Red Sox remain atop the Gulf Coast League South division with nine games remaining in their 2015 campaign, sitting six games ahead of the GCL Orioles. The team will take on the O's in a four-game series that starts on August 24.
Despite outhitting the Reds 9-7, the Red Sox failed to muster much power at the dish, with no player posting an extra-base hit in the shutout loss. Right-hander Eduard Bazardo drew the start and dropped to 3-6 after allowing all four runs on six hits against three strikeouts in five innings of work. The Venezuelan was replaced by left-hander Luis Colmenares in the top of the sixth, who took the Red Sox the rest of the way, allowing one hit and striking out one through three scoreless frames.
Right fielder Willis Figueroa, first baseman Eddy Reynoso and catcher Pablo Urena all turned in multi-hit games, with all three players finishing 2 for 4. The Red Sox offense was woeful with runners in scoring position, finishing the day 0 for 10 in that category and leaving 10 men on base.
The Red Sox rode a four-run bottom of the eighth to victory against the Braves, following up the offensive outburst by holding their opponent scoreless in the final frame. Two of those four runs came thanks to a two-RBI single from first baseman Juan Barriento, who finished the day 3 for 4 with a double and a run scored, his second consecutive three-hit performance. Catcher Samuel Miranda posted the Red Sox' other multi-hit game, going 2 for 4 with an RBI.
Starter Gary Calvo turned in a steady performance, allowing two hits and two runs against five strikeouts through five innings of work. Reliever Warlyn Guzman got the win after allowing five hits and another run in 3 2/3 frames, making way for right-hander Victor Diaz in the top of the ninth. Diaz earned his seventh save after facing only two batters to seal the win.
Player of the Night: Greenville center fielder and 2015 first-round pick Andrew Benintendi continues to showcase the power bat that helped rocket him up draft boards this summer. The University of Arkansas product – who posted 20 home runs in his final season with the Razorbacks – earns Player of the Night honors after following up his hitless Low-A debut on Monday with a pair of dingers, his first hits since joining the Drive from Lowell on August 17. The 21-year-old now has nine home runs in 37 professional games, and is part of an impressive core of offensive talent on display in Greenville, along with Rafael Devers, Yoan Moncada and Michael Chavis.
Photo Credit: Andrew Benintendi by Kelly O'Connor