August 31, 2015 at 7:00 AM
8/31 Cup of Coffee: Of the six Red Sox affiliates still playing, only one was able to pick up a win on Sunday. However, it was in the most important game, as the GCL Red Sox won their semi-final contest and will advance to the league finals to defend their championship. Elsewhere, Portland dropped a marathon contest in the New Britain Rock Cats' final home game. Lowell fell in an extra-innings slugfest, while Greenville's loss dropped them into a tie in its race for a playoff spot.
When the 2015 PawSox commemorative DVD is released, this game won't be on it. Pawtucket managed only five hits, none for extra bases. The only time a player advanced past second base was in the sixth, when Matt Spring was thrown out at home by former Sox farmhand Reynaldo Rodriguez (MIN). Shawn Haviland took the loss for the PawSox, allowing five runs (four earned) on nine hits in five innings.
Sunday marked the final home game for the New Britain franchise, as it will move to Hartford for the 2016 season. It was fitting that the final contest there was played against the Red Sox affiliate, as New Britain was the home Boston's Double-A affiliate from 1983 until 1994. The "BritSox" saw several future major league All-Stars, including Roger Clemens, Ellis Burks, Mo Vaughn, and Jeff Bagwell.
If Portland was a fitting opponent to the end of New Britain baseball, the on-field action was a fitting farewell, as Rock Cats outfielder Jordan Patterson (COL) ended a 15-inning marathon contest with a two-run walkoff home run. The winning blast came off of utilityman Oscar Tejeda, pressed into action on the mound as the Sea Dogs ran out of pitchers. Tejeda followed a quartet of hurlers who all turned in solid performances. Starter Danny Rosenbaum allowed three runs (two earned) on five hits in five innings, striking out three and walking two. Mike Augliera continued his strong August pitching around four hits to toss two scoreless frames. Williams Jerez allowed a run on two hits in his two frames, and Heri Quevedo allowed one in his four innings of relief.
At the plate, Sam Travis delivered his fourth home run since joining the Sea Dogs, hitting a two-run shot in the sixth as part of his 2-for-7 afternoon. Jordan Weems added his first triple of the season, and Dustin Lawley had a 3-for-6 day. Keury De La Cruz hit his eighth home run of the year.
New Britain finishes not only its home schedule against their old parent club's current affiliate: The future Hartford Yard Goats will close out their final season next week at Hadlock Field against the Sea Dogs.
Salem closed out the home portion of its schedule with a loss despite the strong effort of starting pitcher Kyle Kraus. The right-hander allowed a run on three hits in six innings. He struck out three, walked one, and left with a no-decision. Brandon Show took the loss in relief giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits in three frames. Yolian Cerse had three hits, including his 11th double. Jordan Procyshen and Franklin Guzman had two hits apiece for the Sox.
Andrew Benintendi had another big day for the Drive, extending his hitting streak to five games with a 2-for-5 effort. The seventh overall pick in June's draft also doubled and drove in a run. The Red Sox' previous top pick, Michael Chavis, also doubled. While Chavis has struggled some making contact in his first full pro season, he has shown solid power. The double was his 27th of the year, and his 43rd extra-base hit. Rafael Devers had two hits and a run scored as he makes his case for keeping the title of the SoxProspects.com top ranked player.
Starting pitcher Ben Taylor took the loss after taking some tough luck from his defense. All four runs Taylor allowed were unearned. In five innings, he allowed four hits, walked one, and struck out three. Mario Alcantara kept the contest close with three scoreless innings of relief.
With the loss, Greenville falls back into a tie for a playoff spot with Asheville, who was rained out. The Drive have eight games remaining
It is rare to see an extra-inning game decided by five runs, but that was the case Saturday afternoon at LeLacheur Park. Kevin Steen had his toughest outing of the season, allowing four runs on four hits in 3 1/3 innings, striking out and walking two apiece. Daniel Zandona allowed a run on three hits in 2 2/3, followed by Trevor Kelley, who scattered two hits in three scoreless frames. After Enfember Martinez tossed a scoreless 10th, the wheels came off in the 11th. Two singles, two doubles, an intentional walk and an error gave the Renegades a commanding five-run lead.
Shortstop Jeremy Rivera turned in an excellent game at the plate, going 3 for 5 with a double and two runs scored. Tyler Spoon hit his first home run as a professional and also doubled, walked, and drove in four.
The Spinners remain two games behind West Virginia in the wild card race.
The Red Sox quest to defend their Gulf Coast League Championship heads back to the league finals, as the Venezuelan duo of Anderson Espinoza and Enmanuel De Jesus (pictured, above)combined to make quick work of the Cardinals in the semi-final. Rain outs on the last two days of the season gave the Sox an opportunity to set their pitching staff, and it paid off with their two top arms on the mound in the one-and-done playoff.
Espinoza had a pedestrian outing by his standards. He allowed a run, which had happened in only four of his ten regular-season outings since being promoted from the Dominican Summer League. The run, which was unearned, came in the third inning and was the only one the Cardinals would get. Overall, he went 4 2/3, allowing two hits, walking two and striking out one. He gave way to De Jesus, who scattered three hits across 4 1/3 innings for the win. De Jesus struck out four and walked two, capping off a strong season, where the left-hander's 1.66 ERA and 0.992 WHIP were overshadowed by Espinoza's dominance.
Timely hitting was the key for an offense that managed only six singles and a walk. The most important swing came in the fourth, when a Devon Fisher base hit drove in Chris Madera and Carlos Tovar to open up the three-run lead. Madera was the only player on base more than once, going 1 for 2 with a walk.
The Sox will begin the best-of-three finals against the GCL Blue Jays on Monday at noon.
Player of the Day: Outshined by fellow countryman Anderson Espinoza all season, lefty Enmanual De Jesus flew under the radar only two years after signing a $787,000 bonus. His excellent season was capped Sunday, in likely his final appearance of the year, with 4 1/3 shutout innings that send the GCL Red Sox to the finals. De Jesus had a 1.66 ERA on the season, and did not allow an earned run in any of his five August outings.
Photo Credit: Enmanuel De Jesus by Kelly O'Connor