May 6, 2016 at 7:00 AM
5/6 Cup of Coffee: On a light night due to rain, two Red Sox affiliates got a pair of excellent outings from their starting pitchers. After getting roughed up for six runs in his previous start, Anderson Espinoza (pictured) came back with a vengeance in a record-setting performance for the Drive. The Sea Dogs came out on the winning end of a pitchers' duel thanks to an excellent start from Aaron Wilkerson.
Pawtucket Red Sox vs. Rochester Red Wings (MIN) - PPD.
The PawSox were rained out against Rochester on Thursday. They will make up the game as part of a doubleheader on Saturday, according to a team release. Joe Kelly is scheduled to make a rehab start for Pawtucket on Friday.
The Sea Dogs got a much-needed strong start from Aaron Wilkerson, snapping a two-game skid. Wilkerson was dominant in six innings of work, allowing just two hits. He was perfect through his first 3 2/3 innings. He finished with seven strikeouts and just one walk. He did not get the win, however, as the Portland bats were held at bay until the bottom of the seventh when Rainel Rosario doubled in Tim Roberson. Rosario was injured on the play and removed from the game. Roberson finished 3 for 4. Three batters later, Tzu-Wei Lin drove in the go-ahead run on an RBI single. Simon Mercedes recovered from a rough seventh inning to shut down the Mets in the eighth to pick up the win. Chandler Shepherd locked down his third save of the year with a one-two-three ninth.
Salem Red Sox vs. Winston-Salem Dash (CWS) - PPD.
Salem was also rained out on Thursday against Winston-Salem. The two teams will play a pair of seven-inning games on Saturday.
Easily the highlight of the night was an eye-popping outing for the Red Sox top pitching prospect, Anderson Espinoza. The 18-year-old Venezuelan dominated in five innings of work, striking out 11 of the 20 batters he faced. He surrendered just one run on five hits, but two of those hits were of the infield variety and one was dropped on a running attempt by Joseph Monge. Espinoza's only blemish came on an RBI triple following his only walk of the outing. Tate Matheny provided the big blow, blasting a three-run home run in the third. He also added a triple and scored twice. Mitchell Gunsolus continued his hot streak since returning to Greenville, going 1 for 4 and driving in a pair. Anyelo Leclerc worked around a pair of ninth-inning walks to earn his second save of the season.
Player of the Night: Anderson Espinoza is the easy choice for Player of the Night after his best performance of the season, by far. With a career-high in strikeouts, the young fireballer has already racked up 35 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched this season. According to a team tweet, the 11 strikeouts tied a franchise single-game record. The start was a good sign for Espinoza, who failed to escape the fourth inning in each of his last two outings.
Photo Credit: Anderson Espinoza by Kelly O'Connor