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May 8, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Salem's staff strikes out 18, Hart continues to roll

5/8 Cup of Coffee: There were solid performances at each level on Tuesday, with the pitching leading the way. Teddy Stankiewicz and Kyle Hart each threw six solid innings, and the Salem staff combined to strike out 18 batters. Jantzen Witte provided all the offense that Pawtucket would need, and Portland got a big triple from Bobby Dalbec to beat New Hampshire. Salem only managed two runs, but an unlikely batter became the first Salem player to hit a home run at home this season. 


Jantzen Witte drove in three runs, and Teddy Stankiewicz allowed only an unearned run over six innings to earn his first Triple-A victory. Stankiewicz allowed four hits and walked three while striking out two, and Trevor KelleyJosh Taylor, and Jenrry Mejia each threw scoreless innings to close the game out. Taylor has now logged eight straight scoreless appearances, and he has not allowed a run since April 11. 

The scoring started with a solo home run Gorkys Hernandez in the fourth, then Witte added an RBI single and a two-run double. Hernandez finished the night 2 for 3 with the home run, a walk, and a stolen base, and Witte went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a walk. Sam Travis was on base three times via two singles and a walk, and he also stole a base. Hernandez was due for a turnaround, as he entered the game mired in a 2-for-32 slump, though his .100 batting average on balls in play over that span shows there was some bad luck involved in that stretch. 


Portland got a great outing from Kyle Hart, and they were able to get to New Hampshire's bullpen to escape with a win. Hart struck out seven over six innings, giving up two runs, one earned, on four hits. His ERA dropped to 2.60, and he has now racked up 42 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings. Andrew Schwaab followed with two scoreless innings, and Jordan Weems picked up the save with a scoreless ninth. 

The Sea Dogs squared off against Nate Pearson in his Double-A debut. Pearson has a fastball that has been clocked as high as 104 mph. He struck out eight over five shutout innings, but once he left the Portland bats woke up. The big hit came from Bobby Dalbec, who laced a two-run triple, and Cody Asche added his first RBI as a member of the organization. Joey Curletta had a tough test in his organizational debut, and he went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. Dustin Pedroia was slated to play, but he was scratched due to the wet field conditions. 


Salem's pitching staff struck out 18, but it was not enough to put away the Blue Rocks. Enmanuel De Jesus had nine of those strikeouts in his 4 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on six hits. Eduard Bazardo was completely dominant in relief, striking out six of the seven batters he faced. Hunter Smith added three more strikeouts in his two innings, but he also took the loss after allowing a run in the top of the ninth.

Arguably the biggest story of the game was that Salem finally hit a home run at home. Jagger Rusconi launched his first home run of the year, and the first that a Salem player has hit at Haley Toyota Field this season. Pedro Castellanos also drove in a run on two hits, and Jarren Duran went 1 for 3 with a double. 


Player of the Night: It was a difficult choice as there were a handful of good performances, but Kyle Hart gets the tiebreaker as he has been doing this all season. The 6-foot-5 left-hander showed up at number 55 in the most recent SoxProspects.com rankings, and his 2.60 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings have been a bright spot on a struggling Portland team. Hart was good but not great in Portland last year, pitching to a 3.57 ERA while striking out only 100 over 138 2/3 innings, but he has missed more bats and lowered his ERA this year. 

Photo Credit: Kyle Hart by Kelly O'Connor