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Minor Lines 8/16/23: Help Is Here: His Name’s Houck

In his final rehab start following a facial fracture, Tanner Houck allowed just one hit in four innings.

Syndication: Worcester Telegram Rick Cinclair/Telegram & Gazette / USA TODAY NETWORK

Worcester: W, 8-1 (BOX SCORE)

The Red Sox saw Garrett Whitlock look pretty rough last night after coming back from the IL; but the third arm the team is expecting back looked very solid in his final rehab slot before he is slated to appear in Houston next Monday. Tanner Houck went 4 innings, allowing a single in the first inning before retiring ten consecutive batters. He made the most of his 59 pitches, striking out 4 Rail Riders (Yankes AAA). Alex Cora is, as usual, noncommittal, but did say it looks as though Houck will be starting when back. Keeping in mind his metrics facing batters the first time compared to every time after, in which his ERA doubles, that may be the right move. I stated Tuesday night that I feel comfortable with the bullpen for maybe the first time all season, and perhaps for the first time in Chaim Bloom’s tenure here. I think that’s absolutely still the case even with Whitlock’s meltdown.

Even if Houck didn’t play lights out, the WooSox would have been fine in this game, as the bats tore Scranton’s pitching staff up all night. They again enjoyed three longballs by way of Wilyer Abreu AGAIN, David Hamilton (each with a 3-run shot) and Stephen Scott. Abreu, who along with those 3 runs batted in, also drew 2 walks, amidst the team’s 8 ball-four’s last night. The WooSox have a bunch of players that could start on a worse team. Luckily, the Red Sox are.... contenders (it surprises me too) and the WooSox are beneficiaries of a deep roster.

Portland: W, 10-7 (BOX SCORE)

Despite the bullpen trying their hardest to choke away this game against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies (Mets AA), the Sea Dogs did enough offensively to ward off six runs allowed in the 8th inning. If it weren’t for a Nick Yorke bases clearing double in the top of the frame to boost the score from 7-1 to 10-1, it’s possible Portland would have lost and erased Hunter Dobbins’ seven innings of solid work. The Sea Dogs are still ailing from swinging at everything, with twelve strikeouts on the night, and Marcelo Mayer is still out with an injury, but on Wednesday, all was well.

Greenville: L, 0-6 (BOX SCORE)

Okay... maybe not all is well. The Drive suffered badly tonight. They Dash-ed into Winston Salem to face (Dash High-A) and got shutout. They didn’t draw a single walk, which compounded the issues Dalton Rogers gave them by allowing two home runs in the fifth, even if he was doing decently before that. Even Kyle Teel, who’s been raking since his meteoric promotion through the organization, could not manage a hit: Salem got just five on the night, two coming from Eddinson Paulino. Sometimes, there are nights like last night, but hopefully it’s not too often for this High-A team.

Salem: L, 3-7 (BOX SCORE)

Life is about give and take. Jhonstynxon Garcia recorded his first two errors of the night, but had a clutch 2-out RBI to make this a 1-run game. Sadly, against this Delmarva Shorebirds (Orioles A) team, they could not muster a win. You could blame Elvis Soto collecting four earned runs across two allowed home runs, you could blame Salem going 2 for 6 with runners in scoring position, you could blame manager Liam Carroll for arguing a call and getting ejected in the fourth when the game was still close, or maybe Albert Feliz for striking out three times or Garrett Ramsey for giving three runs up in the ninth, or, since two came from the Garcia error, why not Garcia? It was a messy game despite the solid middle relief, but it’s about give and take.

Happy possible Houck reinstatement weekend for all those who celebrate!