Witte, PawSox Comeback To Win 2-1

PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Jantzen Witte smashed a walk-off home run to power the Pawtucket Red Sox to a 2-1 victory over the Rochester Red Wings in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader at McCoy Stadium.

Held without a hit by Rochester (29-33) through the first six innings of the scheduled seven-inning game, the PawSox (34-29) broke through in the seventh to tie the game and won it in the bottom of the eighth. Pawtucket has now won 18 of its last 23 games, including 10 of its last 12.

PawSox Comeback

Rochester starter Yohan Pino (L, 0-4) faced the minimum through six hitless innings and ended up yielding the two runs on four hits and two walks over 7.2 innings.

PawSox starter Kyle Kendrick scattered seven hits over five innings of one-run ball with a pair of strikeouts. Reliever Noe Ramirez (W, 3-2) then took over and dealt three shutout stanzas with three strikeouts, no walks and just two hits.

Shortstop Engelb Vielma and center fielder Zack Granite led off the fifth with consecutive singles. Right fielder J.B. Shuck then plated Vielma with an RBI groundout to second.

Late Inning PawSox Comeback

Pawtucket finally mounted an offensive threat in the seventh. Center fielder Rusney Castillo led off with a single to short to break up the no-hit bid, but he was promptly erased on a 6-4-3 double play. With the PawSox down to their final out, left fielder Steve Selsky stroked a single to center. Selsky then scored all the way from first when designated hitter and cleanup man Bryce Brentz short-hopped an RBI double off the wall in left-center to tie the game. Pino then stranded a pair of runners to force extra innings.

With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the eighth, Witte drilled Pino’s 1-0 offering to the left-center berm to send Pawtucket to another victory to begin the doubleheader.

Pawtucket concludes its four-game series against Rochester with another doubleheader Sunday, beginning at 12:35 p.m., at McCoy Stadium. Pawtucket left-handers Henry Owens (4-4, 3.72) and Edgar Olmos (3-1, 2.48) are the scheduled starters. Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the PawSox Pre-Game Show at 12:05 p.m.

The seven-game homestand runs through Wednesday. Good seats are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.

Fans See a Discombobulated Red Sox Team

I love to bake but I’m not very good at it. That’s my sister Mary’s expertise. It doesn’t mean I don’t keep trying. Mary gives me her recipes and I follow them precisely. Despite my attention to detail, my creations often come out of the oven on fire. Needless to say that’s frustrating. The Red Sox front office and management must feel the same way about the lineup they assembled this season. After all, they have all the ingredients for a

Discombobulated Red Sox

championship team but no matter how careful they are they can’t catch first place. In some cases, like my cookies, they game catches fire, and not in a good way. Their offensive is inconsistent, and so is their pitching. Unlike recent years where the Red Sox were just bad, fans are watching a discombobulated Red Sox struggle on the mound and the plate.

First and foremost I will reiterate that the Red Sox need to break up with John Farrell. He knows how to rally the troops when his job is on the line, but then they become complacent and start losing again. But replacing Farrell isn’t the only thing the Sox need to focus on.

Porcello Can’t Get It Together

Rick Porcello ran away with the Cy Young Award last year after going 22-4 last season. That’s an .846 winning percentage. So it was only natural fans and management alike expected Porcello to do the same, of not better, this year. But as of June 16th Porcello is 3-8 and leading the league in losses. Seven of his eight losses came as a result of a lack of run support. Red Sox hitters didn’t score more than four runs in any of those losses. But it doesn’t help with Porcello gives up a lot of runs either. If Porcello can find a consistently reliable pitch then we’ll start seeing more wins out of him. But for now he’s part of the reason we’re seeing a discombobulated Red Sox team on the field.

Hitters Aren’t In Their Prime Yet

It’s exciting to see Jackie Bradley Jr. blast a home run 450 feet. But don’t forget he’s only hitting .232 so far this season. Everyone loves Andrew Benintendi but he’s just a rookie and has a long ways to go before he reaches his prime. Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts are strong hitters but still struggle to maintain consistency throughout the season. It’s going to be another season or two before these hitters are an ever-present threat to opposing pitchers. When they enter their prime though they’ll catch fire. Hopefully David Price stays healthy, Porcello shakes his slump, and Sale becomes better than ever.

Jackie Bradley Jr.’s 457 Foot Home Run

Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a home run last Friday against Detroit that I thought would break Ted Williams’ distance record. Bradley Jr.’s homer off Alex Wilson in the 8th put the Sox ahead for good. But few seem to notice that the ball traveled over 457 feet. That’s 45 feet short of Ted Williams’ 502 foot record. A 457 foot home run is nothing to ignore. It’s Bradley Jr.’s longest homer of the season. While the distance of the homer doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, it reflects the sheer strength and speed of Bradley Jr.’s swing.

The ball may have traveled even farther than that. Last April in Baltimore, Bradley Jr. hit a457 foot home run homer off of the Orioles’ Jayson Aquino that, according to ESPN Home Run Tracker, measured 407 feet (against the wind). After the game I walked around the area in Camden Yards where the ball landed and another fan pointed to where it landed. Not two feet away was a mini-plaque marking the place where another home run landed in 2008. On July 1, 2008 the Royals’ Alex Gordon’s home run landed approximately in the same spot and measured at 425 feet. Most home runs barely make it over the wall, which is about 370 feet or so (give or take 20 feet). Each park is different. But Bradley Jr.’s home runs could clear the wall in any park.

Bradley Jr.’s 457 Foot Home Run Should Get More Recognition

Ted Williams hit that 502 foot homer in 1946 but that was before so many tall buildings went up around Fenway Park. These buildings cut down on the wind that often carries a ball out of the park. Some say that officials exaggerated Williams’ home run record. David Ortiz used to joke about the red seat marking the spot where it landed. “They moved it back a little more,” he’d allegedly say about the seat at the start of each new season. But it’s still an official record on the books.

Bradley Jr. hasn’t hit the longest home run of the season (yet). That honor goes to the Yankess’ Aaron Judge after he hit a 496 blast on June 11th at Yankee Stadium. But the thing is that Bradley Jr. is consistently hitting long homers. Bradley Jr.’s home run on June 9th marked the fifth time since April 22nd that one of his long balls traveled over 400 feet.

It won’t surprise me if Bradley Jr. comes within a few feet of Williams before the season is over. So while we should celebrate his homers, we should also pay attention where they’re landing.

Altoona Curve Grab the Series Finale Over the ‘Dogs

Altoona, PA – The Altoona Curve (35-29) scored four times in the fourth inning and Alex McRae (5-2) hurled seven innings, defeating the Portland Sea Dogs (29-32), 7-1 on Thursday afternoon at Peoples Natural Gas Field.

Altoona Curve

McRae tossed seven innings on four hits, one run and fanned five, earning his first career win against Portland. LHP Trey Ball (1-6) suffered the loss, yielding eight hits and five runs over four innings pitched.

The Curve snapped a 1-1 tie with a four-run second against Ball. Zane Chavez snapped a 1-1 tie with a run-scoring single. Kevin Newman and Edwin Espinal added RBI hits in the frame. Altoona scored two in the eighth on a two-run homer by Jerrick Suiter.

The Altoona Curve took a 1-0 lead in the second inning against Ball. Kevin Newman delivered an RBI infield single, but Ball got out of the inning with a double play.

Rafael Devers tied the game in the fourth inning with a solo-homer to right field. Devers set a new career-high with his 12th homer, which leads the team.

LHP Jake Drehoff worked three scoreless in relief of Ball, allowing one hit and fanning two.

The Road Ahead

The Sea Dogs open up a three-game series on Friday night against the Akron RubberDucks (Indians affiliate) at Canal Park. RHP Jacob Dahlstrand (5-1, 5.79) makes his 13th appearance for the ‘Dogs in the series opener.  LHP Matt Whitehouse (2-3, 3.40) gets the starting nod for Akron. First pitch from Ohio is 7:00 PM.

Listen live on the U.S. Cellular Sea Dogs Radio Network beginning at 6:55 PM and watch on MiLB.TV starting at 6:55 PM.

Tickets for Portland’s next homestand on June 23-29 are available at seadogs.com or 207-879-9500.

Red Sox Walkoff In Back to Back Games Over Phillies

The Sox are coming off of a two-game stretch against the Philadelphia Phillies in which the Red Sox Walkoffteam took home back to back walkoff wins. Fenway Park was buzzing on Monday and Tuesday night when Boston came away victorious in a couple of extra-inning affairs. The hero on Monday night was Dustin Pedroia, while the clutch hitter of the night on Tuesday was Andrew Benintendi. These wins are more than just a W in the column. Walkoffs not only raise confidence, but also team chemistry and usually performance catches a boost as well. The Red Sox walkoff wins should do just that.

Red Sox Walkoff Against Phillies Monday Night

On Monday night, the Red Sox trailed 4-0 after the first inning. Rick Porcello has unfortunately continued to struggle in finding a rhythm this season. The Sox did manage to battle back though, as Mookie Betts went for 3 doubles on the night and Benintendi had 3 hits. In the eleventh inning, the stage was set as Dustin Pedroia lined a ball past the second baseman Howie Kendrick. Devin Marrero score the game winning run on a head-first slide, and the celebration ensued.

Red Sox Walkoff Again on Tuesday

Fast forward to Tuesday night where Boston and Philladelphia played very evenly, matching each other with a 3-3 score in the 6th. That score would stay the same until the 12th until Andrew Benintendi came to the plate. The young Red Sox outfielding phenom ripped the ball down the right field line, scoring Xander Bogaerts and walking off for the second night in a row. Xander led the way with three hits while Mitch Moreland hit his ninth home run of the season.

What Do the Red Sox Walkoff Wins Mean?

I’m not sure why this team likes to give the fans so much stress sometimes, but a win is still a win. No matter how good we look on paper, this is still baseball where anyone can win on any day. In a league where the Cubs can lose three out of four to the Rockies, anything can happen. As long as the Sox get the win, that is really all that matters. They just have to make sure they compete against the great teams in our league, as well as the bad.

Scouting Report: Cole Brannen

After the Boston Red Sox drafted Tanner Houck in the first round, they drafted outfielder Cole Brannen 63rd overall.

Cole Brannen

The 6’1” left-handed hitter is known for his speed and athleticism. As a senior in high school at Westfield (GA), Brannen batted .439 (36-for-82). This came with a total of 23 doubles, three triples, and five home runs. He also scored 42 runs and stole 22 bases, drawing 26 walks against only 11 strikeouts. There is definitely some potential for power, but I think the Red Sox will let him develop based on his young age.

In the summer of 2016, he competed in the Under Armour All-America Game at Wrigley Field and in the Nike Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park.

Due to his tremendous exposure, Brannen had originally committed to play ball at Georgia Southern, but told reporters “I made up my mind. I’ve known for a long time that’s what I want to do. I want to play ball. I’ve wanted to play professional baseball since I was three years old. That’s always been my goal. I’ve worked hard. I’ve put in a lot of time and a lot of effort. God’s given me a lot of things that I can do that a lot of people can’t do. I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for him. I’m very thankful and blessed for all the things I’ve gotten to accomplish.”

Breakdown

There is no question that the hit potential is there. But in addition to that, Brannen’s athleticism allows him not only to steal bases and advance but also to play any of the outfield positions.

However, Brannen doesn’t have a ton of experience against high-level pitching, so there will definitely be at least a few periods of adjustment. Additionally, his swing is a tad lofty, so long-term power as he ages is no guarantee. Despite that, I still see him as a potential plus-hit for average tool.

It is unclear what the Red Sox plan to do with Cole Brannen long-term. But short term, he’ll probably play the rest of the season in the Gulf Coast League. Should he still be with the organization next season, he’ll probably split time between Lowell and Greenville based on his performance.

Right now, I feel comfortable comparing him to Danny Mars or Aneury Tavarez, both of which are other outfielders in the farm system. Brannen’s absolute ceiling would be comparable to Jackie Bradley Jr, but perhaps with less defensive ability.