May 4, 2016 at 7:00 AM
5/4 Cup of Coffee: Yoan Moncada (pictured) and Andrew Benintendi continue to lay waste to the helpless hurlers of the Carolina League. Tuesday was business as usual; the top two players in the system combined to go 7 for 14 with three walks, six RBI, and an absurd ten runs scored in leading Salem to the sweep of its doubleheader. Elsewhere, Eduardo Rodriguez overcame a shaky first inning in his second rehab start, but the PawSox fell in extra innings. Teddy Stankiewicz saw his run of strong starts to begin the season snapped in Portland's loss.
All eyes were on Eduardo Rodriguez as the left-hander made his second rehab start. He had a difficult first inning, surrendering three runs (including a solo homer.) He quickly rebounded, however, allowing only two more base runners and retiring 13 of the final 14 batters he faced. Most importantly, Rodriguez was efficient, needing only 84 pitches to get through six innings. He struck out three, induced 10 ground outs, and did not walk a batter.
Down, 4-1, in the eighth, the PawSox rallied behind the Marrero brothers. Deven ripped a two-run double to bring Pawtucket within a run before older cousin Chris delivered a solo homer in the ninth to send the game to extras. Blake Swihart, making his third start in left field, was 1 for 4 with a walk.
Anthony Varvaro allowed one run in his inning of relief, and Noe Ramirez took the loss when Nick Williams (PHI) hit a two-run walk-off home run in the 10th.
The SoxProspects.com Podcast Curse claimed another victim in Teddy Stankiewicz. A day after the right-hander's hot start and 10-spot jump in the rankings made him a main topic of conversation on the podcast, he was hit hard by Binghamton. Stankiewicz allowed a walk, two doubles, and a home run before he recorded his first out. After appearing to settle down with a pair of scoreless frames, the Mets jumped on him for four more runs in the fourth, knocking him out of the game. Overall he allowed eight runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings, and he saw his ERA jump from 1.13 to 3.58.
Henry Ramos was one of the few bright spots on offense, going 2 for 4 with a walk. Cole Sturgeon chipped in his third triple of the season and scored a run.
Following two straight rain outs, the Salem offense was apparently itching to go. Salem scored in each inning and every player reached base at least once. Yoan Moncada notched his first home run of the season in style, blasting a fifth-inning grand slam. Moncada was 2 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, and three runs scored. Andrew Benintendi also scored three runs, going 2 for 4 with a walk. Bryan Hudson went 2 for 2 with two walks from the ninth spot in the order and scored all four times he reached. Mauricio Dubon continues to thrive hitting between Moncada and Benintendi in the Salem lineup, going 3 for 5 with two RBI and two runs.
Starter Jalen Beeks was the beneficiary of the outburst, cruising to the win. Beeks allowed three runs on five hits in his five innings, walking one and striking out two. Taylor Grover closed it out with two scoreless frames, allowing one hit and striking out one.
The nightcap was a much closer affair, but the heroes were the same. Down by 1 in the bottom of the sixth, Moncada delivered an RBI double, raced to third on an error, then scored on a Dubon sacrifice fly. Along with a run scored in the third inning following a leadoff walk, Moncada crossed the plate five times in the doubleheader. Never to be outdone, Benintendi matched him with two runs in the game and five on the day. The 2015 first-round pick extended his hitting streak to 21 games with two knocks in the nightcap, including his 11th double of the year. Dubon also scored twice, giving the trio atop the Salem lineup a total of 14 runs scored in the two contests.
After spending April in a piggyback relief role, German Taveras got the call for the spot start, his first of the season. He allowed five runs (three earned) on two hits in 3 1/3 innings. Yankory Pimentel overcame some wildness to earn the victory. While the 22-year-old righty did not walk a batter in his 2 2/3 scoreless innings, he did uncork three wild pitches. He allowed an unearned run, struck out two, and induced seven ground balls to get credit for his first win of the year. Austin Maddox tossed a scoreless seventh to pick up the save.
Player of the Day: As it seems to nearly every day, the choice comes down to Yoan Moncada and Andrew Benintendi. The nod goes to Moncada on the strength of his grand slam in game one, followed by his role driving in the tying run and scoring the go-ahead in the later matchup. He finished the day 3 for 6 with two walks, five runs scored, five RBI, a double, a home run, a stolen base, and a sacrifice bunt. The 20-year old now has a .329/.463/.471 slash line through 23 games.
Photo Credit: Yoan Moncada by Kelly O'Connor