May 25, 2016 at 7:00 AM
All eyes at McCoy Stadium were on rehabbing left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez. After having his initial rehab assignment cut short a week ago due to knee soreness, the 23-year-old returned featuring a new, simplified delivery from the wind-up. After four outings with middling results in his last stint, Rodriguez was stellar on Tuesday, allowing a run on four hits in seven innings. He struck out seven without issuing a walk, and the only blemish was a fifth-inning solo home run.
Despite his dominance, Rodriguez was actually in line to take the loss, as he left the game with the PawSox trailing, 1-0. Chris Marrero stepped up once again, slamming a two-run homer in the eighth inning to put the PawSox on top. The home run was Marrero's ninth, tying him for the International League lead.
Anthony Varvaro got credit for the win, allowing one hit while striking out two in a scoreless eighth inning. The save went to Pat Light, who also gave up one hit in a scoreless frame. He struck out and walked one apiece.
Between two losses, an off day, and a lot of rain, it had been a week since the Sea Dogs added to its win total. A solid all-around effort rectified that on Tuesday. Henry Ramos had another two-hit night, and is now 15 for 38 (.395) over his last 10 games. Sean Coyle homered for the second straight day, showing signs of breaking out of a season-long slump. Andrew Benintendi broke a three-game hitless streak with a third-inning single. Nate Freiman did not have a hit in two official at-bats but walked three times.
Portland starter Keith Couch had a good night that ended on a sour note. After allowing only two runs through his first six innings, the quality start slipped away when he surrendered a single and a home run to start the seventh. His final line saw him allow four runs on six hits in six-plus innings, striking out five and walking three. Chandler Shepard was once again impressive in a relief role, striking out four and allowing only one hit in two scoreless innings. Mitch Atkins finished it off with a scoreless ninth to get the save.
Travis Lakins turned in the best start of his young career to lead Salem. The 2015 sixth-round pick allowed a run on four hits in six innings, striking out six without issuing a walk. The six innings matched the longest Lakins has gone in 10 starts as a professional, and it was the first outing of his career in which he didn't a batter. Ben Taylor, taken with the pick immediately after Lakins last June, was not to be outdone. He allowed just one hit in three shutout innings of relief, striking out five without a walk. Taylor has been outstanding in May, with only one run allowed and 20 strikeouts against two walks in 14 1/3 innings.
The six-hit effort by the offense proved to be plenty with the strong pitching performances. Yoan Moncada was 1 for 4 with a walk. Mauricio Dubon had a triple, walk, and two runs scored as part of his 1-for-3 night. Rafael Devers snapped an 0-for-19 slide with a fourth-inning base hit, and he chipped in a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
A 15-hit barrage was not enough for the Drive to keep pace with an explosive Asheville offense. Luis Alejandro Basabe (pictured, left) smashed two home runs, a solo blast in the third inning and a two-run shot in the ninth. Joseph Monge also homered and added a double as part of a four-hit night out of the leadoff slot. Roldani Baldwin had a solo home run in the second and a double, scoring twice in a 2-for-5 effort.
Greenville starter Logan Boyd was roughed up for the second straight outing, allowing seven runs (five earned) on seven hits in two innings. Jeffry Fernandez couldn't slow the barrage, surrendering six runs (three earned) on eight hits in his 3 1/3 innings. Kuehl McEachern played a key role in the Greenville bullpen last season with nine saves and a 2.52 ERA, but has struggled to replicate that success in 2016. After allowing four runs in 2 2/3 his ERA stands at 8.61.
Player of the Day: It was a night of strong pitching performances, but the two home run attack by Luis Alejandro Basabe stands out. Basabe entered the day with two professional home runs in 588 plate appearances going back to 2013, and matched that total in five on Tuesday night. The 19-year-old has been a key cog for the Drive, splitting time between shortstop and second base and delivering a .306/.381/.468 slash line.
Photo Credit: Eduardo Rodriguez and Luis Alejandro Basabe by Kelly O'Connor