PAWTUCKET --- A few pitchers who could find themselves with the Boston Red Sox in the very near future stated their cases for a promotion on Monday night in the Pawtucket Red Soxâ€™s doubleheader with the Durham Bulls.
In the opener, starting pitcher Justin Germano and rehabbing Boston Red Sox reliever Andrew Miller teamed up to blank Durham on three singles, and run-scoring singles by Mike Rivera and Tony Thomas provided all the offense in a 2-0 victory.
The nightcap saw longtime Colorado Rockies starter Aaron Cook improve to 3-0 with his second complete game of the season and help the PawSox close out their sweep with a 7-1 win before a sparse gathering at McCoy Stadium.
The victory extended the PawSoxâ€™s win streak to eight games, just one shy of the club record, and the two victories allowed them to do something they had never done in franchise history -- sweep back-to-back four-game series.
Germano, a former starter for the San Diego Padres in 2007 who also played for the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians and was a non-roster invitee to spring training with Boston, picked up the 100th win of his professional career with six shutout innings.
Germano raised his record to 2-1 by striking out three batters, walking none, and allowing all three hits, but no runners to advance as far as third base. He also lowered his ERA to 1.57, claimed the International League lead in WHIP (0.65), and has yet to walk a batter in 23 innings of work this season.
Miller, meanwhile, earned the save with a 1-2-3 seventh that saw him fan his first two batters and get the third to line out softly to shortstop Jose Iglesias.
Miller was placed on Bostonâ€™s disabled list on March 26 with a left hamstring strain and began a 30-day rehab assignment on April 7 at Single-A Greenville that eventually sent him to Pawtucket.
This was Millerâ€™s fifth rehab appearance with the PawSox, and while he has had mixed results (nine strikeouts, nine walks, four runs, and two hits in 4 1/3 innings), Mondayâ€™s inning was clearly a step in the right direction for him.
The PawSox scored the only they needed in the first inning on Riveraâ€™s sharp single to left that drove in Daniel Nava, who punched a two-out single to left and eventually went to third on consecutive walks to Mauro Gomez and Will Middlebrooks.
Rivera, a 35-year-old journeyman catcher who spent parts of nine years with four major league teams, was making his PawSox debut. He was released by the Milwaukee Brewers near the end of spring training, but signed by Boston over the weekend to add organizational depth behind the plate.
Rivera ended the contest with two of the PawSoxâ€™s six hits, and No. 9 batter Tony Thomas knocked in the other run with a second-inning single to right to score Che-Hsuan Lin, who led off with a double into the left-field corner.
Cookâ€™s numbers werenâ€™t as remarkable as Germanoâ€™s -- he struck out just one batter, allowed eight hits and two walks, and lost his shutout bid with one out in the seventh inning -- but he was still solid enough to keep the Bulls off the board and drop his ERA to 1.33.
Like Germano, Cook received an invite to spring training, but his contract has a May 1 opt-out clause if he is not promoted to Boston by then, and Cook has been reported to be unwilling to extend that date if he isnâ€™t up.
The PawSox struck in the fourth when Ryan Lavarnway and Gomez opened the inning with doubles to left for a run. Two outs and a walk to Josh Kroeger later, Lin made it a 3-0 game by driving in Gomez and Kroeger with a double off the wall in left.
In the fifth, the PawSox doubled their lead on Will Middlebrookâ€™s eight home run of the season and fifth in his last six games, a three-run shot well over the berm in left field and into the parking lot.
A leadoff walk to Daniel Nava and a hit-and-run, seeing-eye single to right by Jose Iglesias put runners on the corners with no outs. Bulls reliever Romulo Sanchez struck out the next two batters, but left a 1-1 pitch over the plate that Middlebrooks crushed.
Kroeger soon followed with a ringing double to right, and he scored on a base hit to left by Alex Hassan.
EXTRA BASES: There were two great defensive plays in the doubleheader. In the opener, Iglesias made the first from his shortstop position with a nice over-the-shoulder, basket catch of a pop fly in shallow left for the first out of the sixth, and in the nightcap, Lin, who played center field, made a running catch into the wall in right-center. â€¦ Middlebrooks has 20 RBIs and 16 hits in his last 10 games. Heâ€™s batting .371. â€¦ Lavarnway has hit in six straight games. â€¦ PawSox infielder Pedro Ciriaco was reinstated from the disabled list before the game and served as the designated hitter and leadoff batter in the first game.