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July 16, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Devers goes off in PawSox debut


7/16 Cup of Coffee: It was a memorable night on the farm, as Rafael Devers (pictured) had a tremendous debut for the PawSox. Jalen Beeks, Elih Villanueva, Matthew Kent, and Darwinzon Hernandez all had solid starts, and Nick Lovullo also had a strong debut as he was called up to Portland. 

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It was an amazing first impression for Rafael Devers, as he went 4 for 4 with a double and a home run to lead the PawSox. The home run came off former big league left-hander Neal Cotts, and his double was a laser off of AJ Cole that short-hopped the right field wall. The only blemish on the night for Devers was a throwing error. Aneury Tavarez went 2 for 5 with an RBI, while Brock Holt went 0 for 5 with two strikeouts and is now hitting .214 with Pawtucket on his rehab assignment. 

The PawSox got a quality start from Jalen Beeks, as Beeks improved to 3-3 on the season. He allowed only one run and struck out six over six innings, while allowing only one walk and five hits. He has now struck out 32 batters over his last 25 innings with an ERA of 2.52. 

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A strong start from Elih Villanueva propelled Portland to victory. Villanueva tossed six shutout innings with four strikeouts and he allowed only two hits. This was the first scoreless appearance for him this season, but his ERA still sits at 6.94. Williams Jerez made things interesting in the seventh, but he was able to lock down his fourth save of the season. Jeremy Barfield was the only standout offensively, going 2 for 3 and driving in both runs in the winning effort.

Taylor Grover struggled in his second straight start, taking the loss after giving up three runs on six hits over 3 1/3 innings. Ty Buttrey kept Portland within striking distance with 2 2/3 scoreless innings, but the offense could not come through. Cole Sturgeon went 2 for 4 with two doubles, but he was also caught stealing third as the potential tying run in the last inning. Henry Urrutia added two singles, and Nick Lovullo had a single and two walks in three plate appearances in his Double-A debut.

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Salem's ninth-inning rally fell just short as they fell to Potomac. Matthew Kent pitched well but still took the loss after allowing two runs on six hits over six innings. It was the fifth straight quality start for Kent, who has an ERA of 2.84 over his last 31 2/3 innings. Jordan Weems followed with two scoreless innings, and Adam Lau surrendered a run in the top of the ninth that proved to be the difference. Down by three in the ninth, Tyler Spoon launched a two-run home run, his second of the season, but that is as close as Salem would get. Jordan Betts had the only other extra-base hit, as he went 1 for 3 with a double and a walk. 

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After entering the game having allowed 13 earned runs over his last 16 innings, Darwinzon Hernandez got back on track with five shutout innings. He struck out five and did not walk a batter while allowing three hits. Greenville's 10-hit attack was led by Bobby Dalbec, who launched a go-ahead grand slam in the seventh inning. It was Dalbec's first home run with Greenville since returning from the disabled list. Tyler Hill and Steven Reveles each went 2 for 4, and Lorenzo Cedrola had a single and an RBI. 

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After scoring two runs in the first, Lowell's bats went quiet for the rest of the night as they fell in extra innings. Garrett Benge led the offense by going 2 for 5 with a double, and his two-run single opened the scoring in the first inning. Marino Campana was the only other player with a multi-hit game, as he went 2 for 5 with two singles. The bottom three hitters in the order went 0 for 13, and the team was 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Joan Martinez had the most success of any Spinners pitcher, throwing three scoreless innings with only one hit and one walk. Martinez has a 1.46 ERA over his first seven games with Lowell. 

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The Twins had 14 hits but only managed to push across one run as the Red Sox pitching did not walk a batter and struck out 12. Alejandro Rodriguez allowed seven hits over four innings and struck out four, and Taylor Ahearn allowed three hits over three innings and struck out five. Both Juan Carlos Abreu and Alan Marrero had a single and a double, and Abreu added a walk and stole home. Everlouis Lozada went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and scored two runs. 

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Player of the Night: After going deep in his first game with the Sea Dogs this season, Rafael Devers had four hits and a home run in his PawSox debut. A consensus top-10 prospect in the game, Devers also made some good plays in the field on Saturday as he continues to show he is capable of handling the hot corner. No matter how good his defense becomes his offense will always be his calling card, as the 20-year-old has been one of the best hitters in the minor leagues this season. His cumulative batting line is .309/.377/.595, with 19 home runs, 20 doubles, and three triples in 291 at-bats. He is striking out in 19 percent of his at-bats and walking in nearly 11 percent, both of which are solid percentages for a young power hitter.

Photo Credit: Rafael Devers by Kelly O'Connor

 
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