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June 21, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: De La Guerra powers PawSox; Howlett heating up

6/21 Cup of Coffee: Weather and lady luck were not on the system's side on Thursday. Pawtucket and Greenville both fell after staging thrilling ninth-inning comebacks and getting big nights from Chad De La Guerra (pictured, left) and Brandon Howlett. Meanwhile, rain halted any chance at baseball for Salem or Lowell. The DSL Red Sox2 provided the organization's only victory, walking off with a three-run homer by Elio Prado.


It was a high-octane evening at McCoy, as the two teams combined for 26 hits and six home runs. Chad De La Guerra was a monster, doubling twice and delivering a solo homer as part of a four-hit night. The 26-year-old utilityman scored four of Pawtucket's seven runs and raised his slugging percentage to .625. Josh Tobias also doubled twice during his 3-for-5 showing. Steve Pearce continued his rehab by going 2 for 4 with a run scored, while Rusney Castillo extended his hitting streak to nine games with a fourth-inning single.

Erasmo Ramirez turned in a quality start, giving up two runs in six innings, striking out four and walking just one. It was a rough night for the bullpen, but Travis Lakins was a highlight. The right-hander returned from a quick jaunt up I-95 by striking out the side in a scoreless ninth innings. 


Salem Red Sox @ Down East Wood Ducks (TX), Suspended
The second half in the Carolina League began with a stutter with Thursday's contest getting suspended in the first inning due to rain. The game will pick up from there on Friday at 5:00, followed by the regularly-scheduled matchup.


The Drive came out of their break with a tough loss following a wild comeback. Trailing 7-3 into the ninth inning, Kole Cottam blasted a two-out, game-tying grand slam. Unfortunately, Lexington's Jeison Guzman answered with a walk-off solo homer off Robbie Baker. Earlier on, Brandon Howlett (pictured, right) ripped a solo homer, his fourth of the season. Howlett also doubled on the night as he raised his breakout June line to .356/.483/.533. Chase Shugart showed good poise, working around eight hits in six innings to give up just two runs. He struck out five without issuing a walk, as he has yet to allow more than two earned runs in any of his five starts since returning from suspension.


Lowell Spinners vs. Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM), Cancelled
The final game of the series finale at LeLacheur Park was cancelled due to inclement weather. The Cyclones do not return to Lowell this year, so the game will not be made up.


After a slow start, top 2018-19 international signee Eduardo Lopez seems to be getting back on track. Lopez was 2 for 4 on Thursday and is now 6 for 13 in his last three games. Brainer Bonaci extended his hitting streak to nine games, going 1 for 3 with a walk. Claudio Ochoa took the loss, giving up three runs (two earned) in 3 2/3 innings, walking and striking out four apiece. Moises Castellanos had a strong outing in relief, giving up just one unearned run on two hits in 4 1/3. 


Making up for Pawtucket and Greenville squads that fell in their final at-bat, the Red Sox2 walked off as winners on Thursday. Elio Prado blasted a game-winning three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth, his third blast of the season. Prado also walked twice and scored two runs on the day as he extended his on-base streak to 13 games. Bryan Gonzalez doubled, walked, and scored twice as part of a 1-for-3 effort. Starter Andres Ortuno continued his run of good pitching. He gave up two runs in three shutout innings, striking out four and walking two, and lowering his ERA to 1.93.


Player of the Day: Offense is up across Triple-A, and Chad De La Guerra has been one of the biggest breakouts. Challenged with an aggressive placement in Triple-A in 2018, De La Guerra struggled mightily to a .137/.158/.205 line. Some Double-A re-tuning and an offseason later, and the 26-year-old has a dominant force in the International League. With his four-hit, nine-total base explosion on Thursday, De La Guerra's slash line is .321/.402/.625 with 19 extra-base hits in 126 plate appearances.

Photo Credit: Chad De La Guerra, Brandon Howlett by Kelly O'Connor