September 2, 2015 at 7:00 AM
9/2 Cup of Coffee: After winning the first game of a best-of-three series on Monday, the GCL Red Sox saw the potential clinching game get washed away due to rain. They will look to defend their title today after a thrilling comeback win in game one. The Pawtucket and Greenville offenses were red-hot yesterday, with Chris Marrero, Garin Cecchini, and J.T. Watkins all impressing at the plate. Rich Hill turned in another dominant start, and Franklin Guzman (pictured) single-handedly tried to carry Salem to victory.
Greenville got some help with Asheville losing, and the Drive now have a half-game lead on the final playoff spot.
The PawSox were firing on all cylinders last night, as they pummelled the IronPigs. Rich Hill got the start, striking out nine while giving up two runs over seven innings. His ERA since joining the PawSox is only 1.37 over 26 1/3 innings. Dayan Diaz and Pat Light each tossed scoreless innings of relief, with neither pitcher allowing a hit.
The PawSox scored 10 runs for the first time in over a month, as several players contributed to the 15-hit attack. Chris Marrero went 3 for 5 with two doubles and a home run, Garin Cecchini went 3 for 5 with his seventh home run of the year, and Marco Hernandez went 3 for 5 with a triple and three RBI. Deven Marrero also had a multi-hit game, going 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Cecchini had been struggling since his brief stint with Boston in the middle of August, entering the game on a 2 for 33 skid.
A great start from Mike McCarthy was wasted as the bullpen failed to hold a late lead. McCarthy allowed only one run over the first six innings, walking one and striking out three. With the Sea Dogs up 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Simon Mercedes came on and was tagged for four runs on five hits while recording only two outs. John Cornely worked out of the jam and also added a scoreless eighth for Portland.
It looked like Jordan Weems was going to be the hero, as he broke a tie with a solo home run in the seventh, but the lead disappeared quickly. Weems finished the game 2 for 3 with a walk, while Tim Roberson and Carlos Asuaje each added two hits.
After jumping out to a 6-2 lead, Salem had to withstand a Hillcats comeback to earn the victory. After getting through five innings allowing only two runs, the wheels came off for Teddy Stankiewicz in the sixth. Three singles and a walk led to him being pulled without recording an out in the inning, and German Taveras came in and got out of the bases loaded jam while only allowing one inherited runner to score. Taveras finished the day with three strong innings, and Chandler Shepherd earned the save with a scoreless ninth.
In his first two at-bats of the day, Franklin Guzman launched a solo home run and a two-run home run, and he followed that up with a single and a walk in his next two trips to the plate. Yoilan Cerse and Mauricio Dubon each had a double, while Mike Meyers and Deiner Lopez contributed two singles apiece.
Every starter for the Drive had at least one hit as they tripled up the Braves. The run support was more than enough for Dedgar Jimenez, who surrendered three runs, two earned, over seven innings. He has now turned in three quality starts in-a-row, and he has picked up the victory in each of those starts.
Despite striking out 11 times as a team, the Drive collected 15 hits and had several great individual performances. J.T. Watkins tied a career-high with four hits in the game, and Yoan Moncada, Michael Chavis, Nick Longhi, and Joseph Monge all had doubles, with Moncada and Chavis also adding a walk. Javier Guerra was on base three times with two hits and a walk, and Rafael Devers went 2 for 5 and he now has recorded multiple hits in three straight games.
With Asheville losing, the Drive moved a half-game ahead of them in the race for a wild card spot.
The Spinners came out on top in a back-and-forth affair, as they avoided a three-game sweep. Dioscar Romero continued to pitch well, giving up two runs on five hits over five innings. He has allowed only three runs over his last 16 innings to lower his ERA to 3.91. The Renegades came back with three runs off Logan Boyd in the eighth, but Bobby Poyner shut the door to preserve the one-run lead and pick up his tenth save.
The middle of Lowell's lineup did all the damage, led by Kyri Washington, who went 2 for 3 with an RBI double, and Josh Ockimey, who went 2 for 4 with a two-run single. Tucker Tubbs also added a double and scored a run, and Tyler Spoon went 1 for 3 with a single and a walk. Washington has been on fire lately, hitting .440 over his last seven games with three doubles and four walks.
The second game of the GCL Finals was postponed due to rain, so the Red Sox will have to wait another day to see if they can repeat as champions. The game will take place today, with game three coming on Thursday if necessary
Player of the Night: Reaching base four times and slugging two home runs was enough to separate Franklin Guzman from a strong pack of candidates. The 23-year-old struggled in August, ending the month batting .185/.241/.296, but he started September off on the right foot. Guzman has missed a lot of time this season with three different trips to the disabled list, and for a player that is considered to be very raw, that missed development time will make it even harder to hone those skills.
Photo Credit: Franklin Guzman by Kelly O'Connor
Photo Credit: Franklin Guzman by Kelly O'Connor