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May 5, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Casas, Granberg support dominant Drive bullpen

5/5 Cup of Coffee: Greenville came away with the system's only victory on Saturday as the other three affiliates fell in tight contests. The Drive got an offensive boost from Triston Casas (pictured) and Devlin Granberg, and outstanding bullpen work from a trio led by Angel Padron. Two of Boston's top pitching prospects struggled with efficiency, as Darwinzon Hernandez and Bryan Mata worked hard to pitch into the sixth and fourth, respectively.


Saturday evening's contest got off to an auspicious start, as Bryce Brentz blasted a three-run homer as part of a six-run first inning. Things quickly went downhill, as a quintet of Pawtucket hurlers surrendered 16 hits. Some positive performances at the plate stood out, including Mike Miller continuing to be a catalyst out of the leadoff spot. Miller reached base three times with a walk and pair of hits. Rusney Castillo doubled as part of a two-hit night, and Sam Travis drove in a pair as part of his 2-for-5 effort.


A thrilling ninth-inning rally by the Sea Dogs tied up the contest at 4-4, but extra innings did not play in their favor. CJ Chatham hit a sacrfice fly and Bobby Dalbec tied things up with a double. Chatham previously had two hits on the day to follow up his five-hit performance in Friday's doubleheader. Rehabbing second baseman Dustin Pedroia was 3 for 4 with an RBI while playing seven innings in the field. Tate Matheny had an eventful night, submitting three hits before getting ejected in the 10th inning after being thrown out at third base on a Jake Romanski bunt.

Coming off a start in which he did not finish the first inning, things were better on Saturday for lefty Darwinzon Hernandez. He allowed two runs on three hits in 5 2/3, striking out five, walking three, and hitting a batter. Efficiency continues to be the Achilles' Heel for Hernandez, as he needed 105 pitches to get through those 17 outs.


Hits were hard to come by in Myrtle Beach, as the two teams combined for just five. Salem starter Bryan Mata allowed both of the Pelicans' two hits in his 3 2/3 innings, but one was the first homer he has surrendered in 2019. Mata, who turned 20 on Friday, gave up three runs as he struck out five against four walks. Hunter Smith and Joan Martinez combined for 4 1/3 hitless innings. With four strikeouts, Martinez now has 28 in 17 2/3 innings. At the plate, Pedro Castellanos ripped a base hit to extend his hitting streak to eight games.


Another big night by Devlin Granberg and some dominant relief pitching helped lead the Drive over their cross-state rivals. Granberg blasted a solo homer as part of a 2-for-3 night that included three RBI. Triston Casas added a double and a walk, as the 2018 first-round pick pushed his slugging percentage up to a season-high .441. There was a scare when third baseman Brandon Howlett left the game after getting hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance. There is no word yet on the extent of Howlett's injuries, or whether he will have to miss any time.

Starter Yasel Santana was touched for three runs in the first inning, but settled in to get through 3 2/3 with no additional damage. He gave way to an unhittable bullpen, led by Angel Padron (pictured, right). The 21-year-old swingman went 3 1/3 hitless frames, striking out three and walking one, earning the win. Yoan Aybar bounced back from a disastrous outing Thursday in which he did not retire a batter. Aybar struck out three of the four batters he faced in a scoreless inning. Rio Gomez finished things off with two strikeouts in a perfect ninth, lowering his ERA to 1.69. 


Player of the Day: Angel Padron gets the nod today, partially due to his own excellence, and partially as the representative of the outstanding bullpen work the organization got on Saturday out of of Class A ball. Padron was solid in a piggyback and swingman role in 2018 with the Drive, posting a 3.99 ERA in 103 2/3 innings. Repeating both level and role this year, Padron has been even better, with just five earned runs allowed in 17 1/3, with 17 strikeouts against just six walks.

Photo Credit: Triston Casas, Angel Padron by Kelly O'Connor