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August 17, 2016 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Devers belts four hits in Salem comeback; Hill hits All-Star blast

8/17 Cup of Coffee: It was a day filled with wild comebacks, extra-inning walk-offs, masterful pitching, a pair of ejections, and a couple of leadoff homers. Rafael Devers (pictured, left) had an RBI double in the 9th and another in the 11th as Salem registered a comeback, walk-off victory. Greenville and the DSL Red Sox1 also walked off in extra-innings, with the DSL squad's triumph coming in a 17-inning marathon. Brian Johnson dominated in a losing effort for Pawtucket, and a pair of GCL Sox hurlers combined on a shutout. Lowell's Tyler Hill asserted himself by going deep in the New York-Penn League All-Star Game.


Brian Johnson matched his major league counterparts by bringing a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He allowed a pair of singles in the frame to lose the no-no, but was outstanding overall. He gave up just one run on four hits in seven innings. The only run for Lehigh Valley came on a solo shot by Darin Ruf (PHI), but that was enough offense to saddle Johnson with the tough-luck loss. 

Johnson turned in his fourth consecutive quality start, making a case to be the next option if the Red Sox need to call on another starter down the stretch. Johnson struggled in his first start after his return to the PawSox, but has been outstanding in the four starts since. In 25 1/3 innings, he has allowed only five runs on 19 hits while striking out 15 against only four walks.

Despite having 14 baserunners, Pawtucket could not bring a single one home. The lineup was only 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position, hit into two double plays, and had three players thrown out on the bases. Jantzen Witte and Rusney Castillo both reached base three times; Witte recorded three singles and Castillo a hit and two walks. Castillo is hitting his stride, as he has generated a .413/.449/.630 August line.


Wet grounds following a long rain delay caused the suspension of Tuesday's game in the middle of the fourth inning. The game will be picked up on Thursday with the Sea Dogs trailing. Before the rain came, Teddy Stankiewicz had struck out five of the 16 batters he faced over four innings, and surrendered a two-run homer in the fourth.

Portland and Altoona were scheduled to play a doubleheader, making up for a rain out back on May 21. That game has been cancelled and will not be made up. 


Red hot Rafael Devers led an improbable come-from-behind victory for Salem. Down, 6-2, in the bottom of the ninth, Devers keyed a four-run rally with his RBI double. He followed that up with a walk-off double in the bottom of the 11th that plated Jayce Ray. Overall, Devers was 4 for 6 with a run, two RBI, and a stolen base, extending his hitting streak to six games. Nick Longhi and Jordan Procyshen were both 2 for 5 with a double, and Bryan Hudson had two hits and a steal.

Starter Anyelo Leclerc allowed four runs on eight hits in 4 2/3 innings. Jeffry Fernandez was outstanding in relief, striking out three in 3 1/3 hitless innings to get the win. 


It was a wild game from start to finish. Luis Alexander Basabe led off the bottom of the first with an inside-the-park home run, but left the game following the second inning. In the 10th, Trent Kemp and Greenville manager Darren Fenster were ejected after Kemp was called out on strikes. In the 11th, Jeremy Rivera led off with a single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Derek Miller. Josh Ockimey was intentionally walked, but Michael Chavis came through with the walk-off base hit. 

Not to be overshadowed was a very strong performance by Greenville starter Dedgar Jimenez. The burly southpaw scattered six hits over seven shutout innings, striking out six and walking one. Kuehl McEachern surrendered the tying run in the ninth, but held Kannapolis scoreless in the extra frames to get credit for the win. McEachern struck out four in his 3 1/3 innings.


Lowell had a four-man contingency on the North squad in the New York-Penn League All-Star game, and they wasted little time making an impact. Tyler Hill (pictured, right) got the start in left field and was slotted into the leadoff spot. He rewarded that faith by leading off the bottom of the first inning with a home run. Overall, Hill was 1 for 5 with a strikeout. Matt McLean started in right field, going 0 for 1 and playing four innings. Carlos Tover entered the game in the fifth inning as the shortstop, going 1 for 2 with a single and a run scored. Lowell's pitching representative was Algenis Martinez. He pitched the sixth inning, allowing four runs (three earned) on three hits.


His last time out, Jhonathan Diaz tossed five hitless innings. His hitless streak was halted when he gave up a single in the second, but little else went wrong for the lefty on Tuesday. Diaz fired six shutout innings, giving up only three hits. He struck out three and walked one, earning the win. On his 19th birthday, Ryan Oduber bounced back from his toughest outing of the season with three innings of shutout relief. Oduber allowed two hits and struck out three while walking one. He hasn't been scored on in seven of his 10 outings since being promoted from the Dominican Summer League. The Sox' six hits provided all the offense they needed. Santiago Espinal led the way, going 2 for 4 with a run scored and an RBI. 


The Red Sox and Astros were scheduled to play a twin bill on Tuesday, but played more than the equivalent before the first game was decided. Down, 4-1, heading into the bottom of the seventh, Luis Hernandez and Carlos Pulido had back-to-back walks to open the inning. Eddy Reynoso then blasted a three-run, game-tying homer over the left field fence. The two teams then matched zeros for nine full innings, bringing the game into the seventeenth. After Red Sox pitching held the Astros scoreless in the top of the frame, the offense finally broke the tie. Marino Campana had a one-out triple, and he scored on a Willis Figueroa sacrifice fly. Junior Figueroa, Juan Florentino, Manuel Ramirez, and Geraldo Perez starred in the bullpen, combining for 11 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings. 

The scheduled second game was postponed. There is no indication at this time whether the game will be made up. 

While less shocking than the comeback of their DSL counterparts, the Red Sox2 overcame a 2-0 eighth-inning deficit with a three-run rally of their own. A sloppy inning by the Phillies enabled the comeback; a walk, wild pitch, three errors, and two Red Sox hits enabled the comeback. Yeison Coca was 2 for 4, scoring a run in the eighth. Fabian Andrade and Rafael Rincones also had two hits apiece. Starter Rayniel Moreno allowed an unearned run on four hits in three innings. Jose Zacarias gave up a run in his four innings of relief to get credit for the win, and Joan Martinez tossed two hitless frames for the save.


Player of the Day: With each passing day, Rafael Devers's slow start to the 2016 season seems more and more like ancient history. The 19-year-old third baseman went 4 for 6 with two clutch RBI doubles in Salem's incredible comeback. He has now hit safely in six straight and 17 of his last 18 games. In 42 games since the start of July, Devers has multiple hits in 19 of them. During that stretch he is hitting .354/.398/.630 with 19 doubles.

Photo Credit: Rafael Devers, Tyler Hill by Kelly O'Connor