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Red Sox minor league roundup: Mookie Betts makes history; Matt Barnes gets whiffs; dominant pitching in Salem

05.17.14 at 10:17 am ET
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TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 LOSS (WALKOFF) AT INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES)

— Though right-hander Matt Barnes yielded a season-high three runs and seven hits and gave up his first homer of the season, he also matched a season-high with six punchouts and walked just one in five innings of work. He attacked the strike zone, with 62 of his 93 offerings (67 percent) counting for strikes. In five starts, Barnes now has a 2.89 ERA with 6.8 strikeouts and 3.2 walks per nine innings.

— Left-hander Drake Britton suffered the walkoff loss in permitting three runs on five hits and a walk while recording two outs in the ninth inning. The line was a bit worse than the results, as the walk was intentional (to set up a force play) and three of the hits were groundball singles. Still, Britton is not showing swing-and-miss stuff of late — he hasn’t punched out a batter in his last four appearances — he’s walking an unsightly 6.6 per nine innings and opponents are hitting .293 against him.

Brandon Snyder clubbed his team-leading seventh homer as part of a 2-for-3 day in which he also walked. Snyder, 27, is hitting .196/.279/.457 in 26 games, playing roughly every other day.

Daniel Nava extended his hitting streak to eight games — with precisely one hit in each of those eight contests — by going 1-for-4 with a homer, his third longball in Pawtucket. He’s hitting .273/.364/.439 in 19 games since getting sent down.

Bryce Brentz sat out of Friday’s game after tweaking his hamstring in Thursday’s game. Given that Brentz walked off the field under his own power, initial indications suggested that his availability was likely to be day-to-day rather than a DL situation.

DOUBLE-A PORTLAND SEA DOGS: 2-0 WIN VS. TRENTON (YANKEES)

(BOX)

— Feats of Mookie: A people’s history.

Mookie Betts opened the game with a seven-pitch walk, extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 71: 30 with High-A Salem last regular season, five in the Carolina League postseason and the first 36 games of this year.

Officially, league records tend not to include the postseason. Moreover, records of such minor league streaks are hazy and hard to come by, with the historical record believed to date back only to 1996. But the best information available suggests that an unofficial 71-game on-base streak would match the unofficial longest known run of consecutive games reaching base in the minors, a mark shared by Kevin Youkilis (with Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket) and Kevin Millar (with Double-A Portland — when it was still a Marlins affiliate — and Triple-A Charlotte and Triple-A Calgary).

Betts is hitting .404 with a .478 OBP and .621 slugging mark during the run, including .393/.462/.607 in Portland — a dominant performance that raises the question of when it might be an appropriate time to promote him to Pawtucket.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Red Sox farm director Ben Crockett will join Down on the Farm on WEEI Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. to discuss how the Red Sox make their decisions regarding the proper time at which to promote players. He’ll also discuss the decision involving Betts, among others. 

— Shortstop Deven Marrero continued to be something of a doubles machine in Portland, going 2-for-4 with his 12th double of the year. The 23-year-old now has 14 extra-base hits (12 doubles, 2 homers), and he’s averaging one for every 10 plate appearances — meaning he’s roughly doubling the frequency with which he’s collecting extra-base hits as compared to 2013, when his 22 extra-base hits represented an average of one for every 21 plate appearances.

— Right-hander Keith Couch, 24, continued to pitch like someone who needs to be challenged at a higher level. He fired seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and two walks while punching out five. He’s now 5-0 with a 2.56 ERA, 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings and just 2.0 walks per nine. He has yet to permit a home run this year in eight starts.

HIGH-A SALEM RED SOX: 3-0 WIN, 2-0 WIN AT CAROLINA (INDIANS)

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

— Right-hander Justin Haley had a dazzling outing in the second contest of the doubleheader, matching career-highs with seven innings and nine strikeouts while giving up no runs on three hits (all singles). Though Haley, a 2012 sixth-rounder, has been pitching in the back half of piggyback starts, he’s been Salem’s most consistently dominant pitcher. In eight appearances spanning 34 2/3 innings, he has a 1.82 ERA with 30 strikeouts and 12 walks in 34 2/3 innings. His walk rate — 3.1 per nine innings — stands out as particularly noteworthy this year given that he issued 5.3 free passes per nine in Single-A Greenville last year in his pro debut.

— Left-hander Corey Littrell bounced back from his worst start of the year (2 2/3 innings, four runs on May 10) with his best of the year. He fired six shutout innings, allowing three hits (a double and two singles) while walking one (matching a season low) and matching a season-high with eight strikeouts. The 22-year-old lowered his ERA to 2.61; he has struck out just over a batter an inning (42 in 41 1/3 innings) while walking roughly one batter for every two innings.

SINGLE-A GREENVILLE DRIVE: 11-3 LOSS, 4-1 WIN AT SAVANNAH (METS)

(BOX GAME 1, BOX GAME 2)

— Right-hander Jamie Callahan got shelled, allowing nine runs on nine hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. The 2012 second-rounder now has a 6.81 ERA with opponents hitting .320 against him. He is getting strikeouts (37 in 35 2/3 innings) and he’s keeping the ball in the park (1 homer allowed), but he’s having unexpected control problems (19 walks) while getting hit hard.

— Right-hander Joe Gunkel fired three scoreless innings with three punchouts, running his streak of scoreless innings to 10. The 22-year-old has a 1.50 ERA with 33 strikeouts and just five walks in 24 innings. His dominance dating to his pro debut in Lowell last year suggests an early-season promotion candidate.

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