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August 30, 2019 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Cannon, Jimenez lead Lowell to playoffs

8/30 Cup of Coffee: The Spinners entered the day with a great opportunity to clinch the Stedler, with a magic number of one and Noah Song and Chris Murphy, both with sub-0.70 ERAs, the doubleheader's scheduled starters. While neither was quite as dominant as fans have been accustomed, both were solid and an offensive burst in the nightcap led by Cameron Cannon  (pictured) and Gilberto Jimenez brought the division title to LeLacheur Park. Salem got a masterful effort for Enmanuel De Jesus in a pitchers duel to solidify its playoff chances, while Portland also turned in a shutout victory. Pawtucket was able to play spoiler in its doubleheader, gaining the split to knock Scranton down into a tie in the International League North


Juan Centeno delivered a dramatic victory in the opener, blasting a walk-off grand slam in extra innings. Centeno had previously doubled, singled, and stolen a base. Josh Ockimey had a big game as well, going 3 for 3 with his 25th homer of the year, doubling twice, and getting hit by a pitch. Starter Teddy Stankiewicz allowed four runs  (three earned) on five hits in six innings. Colten Brewer got credit for the win, giving up an unearned run on one hit in two innings.

While not coming on a home run as it did for Pawtucket in the opener, Scranton prevailed in the nightcap by putting up a four-spot in extra frames. Tanner Houck got first duty, going two innings and giving up three runs, all coming on a pair of homers by Ryan McBroom. Houck struck out two and walked one. With both doubleheaders going to extra innings on Thursday and another twinbill on tap for Friday, the depleted PawSox pitching staff turned to Cole Sturgeon for the 10th. The outfielder ended up saddled with the loss, giving up four unearned runs. Bobby Dalbec blasted his fourth homer in six games and organization-leading 27th of the season. CJ Chatham doubled and drove in a run as part of a 2-for-5 effort in the nightcap. 


Konnor Wade was dominant as he and a pair of relievers combined for the three-hit shutout. Wade sprinkled two hits across seven innings, striking out four without issuing a walk. It was the second straight outing with seven shutout frames for the veteran righty. Robinson Leyer struck out a pair in a hitless eighth inning, and Jordan Weems closed the door with a scoreless ninth. Charlie Madden led the way at the plate, posting a double and driving in a pair. Jarren Duran singled and nabbed his 45th stolen base of the season. He is the first player on a Boston affiliate to reach that milestone since Yoan Moncada in 2016. 


Like their counterparts in Portland, a trio of Salem hurlers combined for a three-hitter, prevailing in a tight pitchers duel. Enmanuel De Jesus surrendered all three hits, going six innings and striking out six against just one walk. It was the second straight start for De Jesus without allowing a run, and ninth straight with three or fewer runs surrendered. Rio Gomez and Andrew Schwaab combined for three hitless frames to seal the victory. Ryan Fitzgerald provided the offense for Salem. His third-inning solo home run accounted for the entirety of the game's scoring, and he also added the contest's only double. Fitzgerald was responsible for three of Salem's six hits and seven of its 10 total bases.

Potomac also won its matchup, so Salem holds tight to a 2 1/2 game lead in the playoff chase. The Sox magic number is down to three. 


Little went right for the Drive in the final game of the season at Fluor Field. Hunter Haworth entered the contest having allowed just two hits in 13 innings in his previous two starts, but Augusta reached him for seven hits in five innings, scoring six runs (five earned). On a positive note, Haworth struck out seven without issuing a walk, continuing a trend of improved control in the second half. Triston Casas and Kervin Suarez both doubled for Greenville. 


Tri-City Valley Cats (HOU) 6, Lowell Spinners 3 (Game 1)
Noah Song had his weakest professional start, which says more about how dominant Song has been than about him pitching poorly. Song went three innings, allowing a run for just the second time in seven starts, and giving up a season-high four hits. He struck out two, walked one, and saw his ERA nearly double from 0.64 to 1.06. Ryan Fernandez entered with only seven runs allowed in 41 innings, but Tri-Valley reached him for five in the decisive sixth inning. Marino Campana was the offensive standout in the opener, going 2 for 3 with a solo homer, a double, and two runs scored. Gilberto Jimenez was 0 for 4, snapping hi 11-game hitting streak.

Lowell Spinners 7, Tri-City ValleyCats 2 (Game 2) 
Like Song in the opener, Chris Murphy had his worst outing since being drafted, emphasizing just how dominant he had been to this point. Unlike Song, Murphy got an avalanche of offensive support, giving the Spinners the single win they needed to clinch a playoff berth. Murphy was unscored upon in his first three innings of work before surrendering a two-run homer to Houston first-round pick Korey Lee. It was only the second time in 10 starts Murphy had surrendered an earned run, inflating his ERA from 0.61 to 1.08. Tom Windle threw a scoreless fifth inning in his organization debut. The lefty signed a minor league deal after getting let go by the Phillies organization earlier in the month. Yasel Santana went two scoreless to get credit for the win.

The Spinners offense wasted little time blowing this one open, scoring five runs in the bottom of the first and never looking back. Jimenez singled to lead off the inning, and was actually thrown out trying to score from third on a Cameron Cannon grounder, but the floodgates then opened. A Nicholas Northcut two-run single followed by an error and three consecutive walks gave the Spinners a commanding lead. Cannon punctuated the win with a solo homer in the fourth inning. He finished 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Jimenez was back on track, going 2 for 3 with a walk, while Nick Decker added his 10th double.

The Spinners are the first team in the league to clinch a playoff berth, with the Pinckney and McNamara Divisions both coming down to the wire. They are tied for the number second seed as they continue to angle for home field advantage in the postseason.


The Gulf Coast League announced late Wednesday that they were cancelling the final two games of the regular season as well as the playoffs due to Hurricane Dorian. The GCL Red Sox finished at 27-25, good for third place in the South Division.


Player of the Day: There may have been more statistically impressive performances, but the news of the day was the Spinners making the postseason, and Cameron Cannon led that charge. The 43rd overall pick this past July was 2 for 5 with a walk and two runs scored in the doubleheader. He put his stamp on the Stedler Division-winning performance with a home run, his third of the year. It's been an up-and-down pro debut for Boston's top pick, as he broke out of a 1-for-27 skid that had dropped his batting average nearly 40 points. Despite not joining Lowell until July 10, he leads the club with 12 doubles, after his NCAA-leading 27 with the Arizona Wildcats.

Photo Credit: Cameron Cannon by Kelly O'Connor