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August 29, 2018 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Northcut, Granberg power Lowell; Wright shows stuff in rehab

8/29 Cup of Coffee: Of the five affiliates in action Tuesday, only Lowell came away victorious, with two teams suffering difficult walk-off losses. Nick Northcut and Brandon Howlett joined fellow 2018 draftee Devlin Granberg (pictured, left) in stopping the Spinners late-season slide. Greenville fell despite an outstanding Jhoanthan Diaz start, while Steven Wright threw two hitless innings for the PawSox. 


It was a tough evening for the PawSox despite some help from an MLB battery on rehab assignments. Knuckleballer Steven Wright, on the disabled list since late June after re-aggravating his left knee injury, got the start. He went two hitless innings with a walk and a strikeout. One day after catching Eduardo Rodriguez in Portland, Christian Vazquez was in Pawtucket, going 0 for 3. After a 9-for-17 performance that included eight runs scored in a four-game series in Buffalo, Michael Chavis could not keep up that staggering pace in his McCoy Stadium debut, going 0 for 4 with a strikeout. Chavis had entered riding a 16-game hitting streak across two levels. Mike Miller continues his excellent recent play, going 2 for 3 with two doubles and two RBI. He is 14 for 26 in his last eight games.


The ball was flying out of Hadlock on a warm Tuesday evening, with the two teams combining for six home runs. Esteban Quiroz went deep in the first, connecting on a two-run shot for his sixth home run in just 19 Double-A games. Chad De La Guerra (pictured, right) and Tate Matheny also homered for the Sea Dogs. De La Guerra accounted for three of Portland's six hits, while Matheny's homer was his first since June 25th. They were unable to compete with the New Hampshire offensive attack that included Jon Berti hitting for the cycle and a monster game by consensus top-20 prospect Bo Bichette. The only Portland pitcher not scored upon was Darwinzon Hernandez, as the lefty fired a scoreless seventh in his third outing since his promotion.


Not long after a thrilling comeback, Salem suffered a heart-breaking extra-inning loss. Down 7-6 headed into the ninth, Victor Acosta scored the game-tying run on a fielder's choice and Jagger Rusconi was cut down at home plate as the potential go ahead-run. In the 10th, Tyler Hill singled home Nick Lovullo to put Salem up 8-7, but the Dash responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to walk off victorious.

Hill paced the offense, going 3 for 6 with an RBI. Salem ran wild on the base paths against Alec Hansen, one of the White Sox top prospects, stealing six bases without getting caught. Rusconi and Brett Netzer swiped two bags apiece. Starter Denyi Reyes allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings, but only one of those runs was earned as an error keyed a five-run, fifth-inning rally. Coming off his worst pro outing thus far, Durbin Feltman bounced back with a scoreless eighth inning, surrendering one hit. 

The loss came less than an hour after a Lynchburg victory officially eliminated the Sox from playoff contention. 


Greenville missed out on an opportunity to move within one game of the lead in the South Atlantic League Southern Division race as it suffered a walk-off loss in Rome. Jhonathan Diaz turned in an outstanding effort, going eight strong innings, giving up just one run on four hits. Diaz struck out four, walked two, and generated 15 ground-ball outs. Jarren Duran delivered yet another multi-hit effort, going 2 for 4 with a stolen base. It was the third straight game with more than one hit for the seventh-round pick, who raised his average in 24 South Atlantic League games to .373. Garrett Benge also had two hits for the Drive.

A loss by Lexington means that the Drive remain two games out of first place, and it ensures that the season will come down to the four-game series that begins on Friday between the two clubs. 


The Spinners halted their seven-game losing streak, salvaging the final contest of their three-game set with Connecticut. Reinforcements arrived with the close of the GCL Sox season, as Nick Northcut and Brandon Howlett made their Spinners debuts. Northcut blasted a three-run homer in the fifth inning, his first long ball since July 24. SoxProspects.com Director of Scouting Ian Cundall was in attendance, and he noted that the long drive over the left field fence came on a 2-1 fastball low and in, with Northcut showing off good bat speed. Howlett was 1 for 4 with a double and a walk. Devlin Granberg reached base four times, going 2 for 3 with two walks, two runs scored, and a stolen base.

Starter Chris Machamer went five scoreless innings for his first win as a professional. He surrendered just two hits, walking and striking out three apiece. Alex Demchak gave up one hit in two scoreless frames, and Victor Garcia struck out four and walked two in two innings of hitless relief. 

The Spinners face an uphill battle to reach the playoffs. The loss by Tri-City brings the Spinners back within four games of the Stedler Division Lead, with six games remaining. Tri-City and Lowell kick off a three-game series in Lowell on Wednesday evening. The Spinners are three games back of the wildcard, but are stuck in sixth place in that tightly-bunched race. 


Player of the Day: Lowell's late-season swoon cannot be blamed on 2018 sixth-round pick Devlin Granberg. The Dallas Baptist product has been an on-base machine, reaching four more times on Tuesday to raise his OBP since the start of July to .423. That 47-game stretch has also included 16 doubles and eight stolen bases for Granberg. The 2018 Dick Howser Award finalist is hitting .315/.398/.455 overall as a member of the Spinners.

Photo Credit: Devlin Granberg, Chad De La Guerra by Kelly O'Connor