The Boston Red Sox farm system is filled with talent, but that does not guarantee success for the minor league affiliates. In Brandon Magee‘s Lowell Spinners recap, he details the ups and downs of the Short-Season Class A team’s 2015 season.
Overall Record: 37-39
Home Record: 17-21 Away Record: 20-18
Placement: 2nd (of 4) in Stedler Division – 5 1/2 GB
The fortunes of a short-season baseball club are often changed by a single promotion. Such was the case for the 2015 Lowell Spinners, whose playoff chances took a dramatic downturn when one player got a well-earned promotion in Mid-August. When Andrew Benintendi played his final game for the Spinners on August 16, the team had a record of 30-26. Lowell then stumbled to a 7-13 finish, finishing not only out of the playoffs but under .500.
The Opening Stanza
Opening Day Lineup
Bryan Hudson LF
Josh Ockimey 1B
Like Boston, Pawtucket, Portland, Salem and Greenville, Lowell started off strongly, scoring eleven runs in the first two innings of their first game of the season, going on to win the game 13-7 en route to winning their first four of the year. After picking up their first loss in game five, the team would win another five in a row and ended June at a scorching hot 10-2. The start was a perfect synergy of a fantastic offense (10-0 when scoring 4 or more runs) and some good pitching (7-1 when allowing 3 or fewer runs).
The Arrival of Benintendi
July started out with a pair of losses before Andrew Benintendi, the Red Sox first round draft choice and consensus College Player of the year, made his professional debut on July 3. A 2-for-4 debut led to a 2-1 victory for the Spinners and another 2-for-4 on Independence Day led to another one-run victory. However, the rest of the month was largely about losing streaks. The Spinners would lose six of the next eight before getting their second two-game win streak of the month. The team would then lose nine of eleven before ending the month on a high note with three consecutive wins.
The offense which was so dynamic in June lost its punch in July, scoring four or more runs only nine times in the first 23 games of the month (going 4-5 in those matchups). The final week of July, the offense picked it back up, going 4-1 as they scored five or more in all the games. However, the pitching was also deficient in July. In the 28 games during July, the pitching allowed 3 or fewer runs on only eight occasions.
A win in the the first game of August extended the Spinners’ active win streak to four in a row, but the team would fall quickly into a pattern of inconsistency. A pair of losses followed by a pair of wins followed by a pair of losses. A win, a loss, a pair of wins, another loss. The offense would score five runs or more in four of the first five games of the month, and then score three or fewer in the next four. The pitching would give up seven runs in three of five games, but would allow only a single run in the other two games. On August 16, the team won a suspended game 5-3 before losing the regularly scheduled game 2-0. The team would enter the All-Star Break in playoff position, but it would lose their best player. Andrew Benintendi and his .948 OPS was promoted to another playoff contender, the Greenville Drive.
Down the Stretch
As the season resumed on August 19, the Benintendi-less offense went in the tank. In five consecutive games the pitching allowed four or less runs, and in five consecutive games the offense scored even fewer. Lowell would get off the schneid with three consecutive wins against Vermont (moving to 8-1 on the season against the Lake Monsters), before finishing with four losses in five games to end the month – two of the losses coming while allowing three or fewer runs.
September started with a quick two-game win streak before the Spinners finished off with four losses in their final five games, with two more losses in games where the pitching allowed three or fewer runs. In the final 20-game stretch, the offense scored three or fewer runs on nine occasions, resulting in nine losses despite the pitching allowing no more than four runs in all nine games.
Final Game Lineup
Jeremy Rivera SS
Tyler Spoon LF
Josh Ockimey DH
Victor Acosta 3B
Tucker Tubbs 1B
Tyler Hill RF
Jhon Nunez C
Tate Matheny CF