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July 8, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Duran impresses with single, steal in Futures Game

7/8 Cup of Coffee: All-Star festivities got started on Sunday, with Jarren Duran (pictured) joining the contingent in Cleveland as a member of the American League futures game squad. Duran's Portland mates stammered into their All-Star break with a tough loss, while their counterparts in Pawtucket cruised into midseason with the sweep of a de facto doubleheader. Elsewhere, Tyler Esplin keyed a Greenville win on a day hits were hard to come by, while Lowell suffered a rare defeat. Salem was involved in a slugfest when the rains hit in the eighth.  


The Futures Game ended in a tie, and the Red Sox lone representative nearly was the hero. Tied 2-2 and with Isaac Paredes (DET) on second base and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Jarren Duran came up against Rockies lefty and Lynn English product Ben Bowden. Duran sliced one of his trademark opposite field singles to left, but with less than two outs, Paredes wisely held at second base. The National League brought on Luis Patino (SD) to relieve Bowden, and after Duran swiped second, Patino retired the next two batters to send the game to extra innings. 

Duran had entered the game in the sixth as a pinch hitter for Cleveland's Daniel Johnson, the designated hitter. He grounded to second off of another lefty, Adrian Morejon of the Padres.


After rain halted the contest on Saturday evening, play resumed Sunday in the third with the Sox holding a 3-0 lead. After Tyler Thornburg and Erasmo Ramirez had thrown a scoreless inning apiece, Josh Smith took the mound when play kicked off again. Smith got credit for the win, allowing two runs on five hits in 4 2/3, striking out four. Darwinzon Hernandez struck out one in his perfect 1 1/3 of relief, his second straight scoreless effort since moing to the pen. 

At the plate, Josh Ockimey picked up an insurance run with a solo homer in the eighth, his 17th of the season. Cole Sturgeon also went deep, his homer coming on Saturday. The win snapped a five-game losing streak

The PawSox held on to win the regularly scheduled contest, their final game before the All-Star break. Bryce Brentz led the offense, going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Sam Travis also drove in a pair as part of his 2-for-4 effort. Starter Kyle Hart was solid, allowing one run on three hits in five innings, striking out and walking four apiece. Mike Shawaryn struggled in relief as the IronPigs mounted a seventh-inning rally. Shawaryn worked through a scoreless sixth, but surrendered solo homer sandwiched by a pair of walks to leave with a two-run lead. A single off Domingo Tapia brought Lehigh Valley within one, but the righty delivered a strikeout to close the victory.


In the final day of the first half it was a rare tough start for precocious right-hander Bryan Mata. In his second appearance since a promotion to Double-A, Mata allowed six runs (five earned) on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking three. It was the first time in 2019 he had allowed more than three earned runs and only the fourth start he'd surrendered more than one. A solo home run in the third innings was only the second he's given up all season, and the first since May 4. It was a tough afternoon for the Portland lineup as two New Hampshire hurlers combined to give up just five hits. Doubles by CJ Chatham and Luke Tendler were the only extra-base hits. 


Rain came through in the top of the eighth inning soon after Salem had evened the contest at 7-7. Nick Sciortino blasted a two-run homer in the sixth, his second of the season. Keith Curcio and Marcus Wilson both doubled and are in the midst of two-hit games. The game will resume at 11:00 on Monday. The teams were originally scheduled to play a doubleheader, but will instead complete Sunday's game and play one seven-inning contest. The other game will be made up at a time yet to be determined. 


The Drive plated five runs despite netting only two hits. One of the two hits was a sixth-inning bases-clearing double by Tyler Esplin that followed three consecutive walks. Esplin later raced home on a wild pitch to complete the rare four-run, one-hit, no error, no-homer inning. Triston Casas went 0 for 3, snapping his hitting streak at eight games, but he did walk and has reached base now in 23 straight contests. Kevin Biondic got the win, allowing just one run on five hits in six innings. He struck out three and walked one. Logan Browning was credited with his seventh save, giving up one run in three innings, walking one and striking out four.


It was a rare loss for Lowell, whose six game winning streak came to an end as they fell to 15-4 on the year. Bryan Lucas allowed five runs (four earned) in five innings, with all of the damage coming in the ninth inning. SoxProspects.com Executive Editor Chris Hatfield was in attendance in Aberdeen, and came away impressed at his mix of fastball at 92-93, good breaking ball, and change. Jeremy Bleich fired a scoreless sixth, striking out a pair. Anyelo Gomez continues his rehab after 2018 shoulder surgery, moving up to Lowell after three GCL outings. Gomez did not allow a hit or walk in his two innings, but he did hit a pair of batters. He also struck out one.

Jaxx Groshans was the highlight at the plate, going 2 for 3 with a walk and his first double as a pro. Nick Northcut also had a pair of hits, pulling him out of a 4-for-30 skid. 


Player of the Day: The breakout player in the system during the first half made the most of his opportunity in the prime time spotlight. Jarren Duran brought what he's done all season to the big stage, gathering a clutch single and stealing a base. It was an appropriate result given Duran's 106 hits, 19 more than anyone else in the organization, along with his 24 swipes on the year.

Photo Credit: Jarren Duran by Kelly O'Connor