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June 19, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Bello dominates again; Duran powers WooSox


6/19 Cup of Coffee:
It was a big night on the farm, with some of the 2021 season's top performers again grabbing the spotlight. Jarren Duran blasted a monster home run in Worcester's victory, while Brayan Bello (pictured) was dominant in his second start since his promotion to Double-A Portland. The top prospect from the 2018-19 international class made a splash in his stateside debut as Eduardo Lopez teamed with Gilberto Jimenez to lead the Salem victory. The only loss of the night came out of Greenville, as the Drive's seven-game winning streak was snapped despite the best efforts of Brandon Howlett.

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The hits have tended to come in bunches for Jarren Duran, as they did on Friday. A two-run homer in the fifth innings highlighted a 3-for-4 effort, already the fourth game with at least three hits for Duran this season. Michael Chavis and Yairo Munoz had solo home runs and Jeter Downs added a double. After following an opener in his last two outings, Stephen Gonsalves returned to a traditional starting role. He went six innings, allowing one run on seven hits, striking out seven without issuing a walk. 

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Brayan Bello continues to be one of the biggest stories on the farm. The right-hander was superb in his second Portland outing, surrendering only three baserunners while striking out 10 in 5 1/3 innings. The lone blemish was a solo home run to lead off the third inning that had Portland trailing into the sixth. Tanner Nishioka knotted things up with a solo shot in the sixth inning, part of a 2-for-3 night for the veteran utilityman. The Portland bullpen picked up where Bello left off, giving up just one hit in 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Joey Meneses picked up his organization-leading 16th double, while Triston Casas was 1 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.

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The Drive entered Friday having won seven in a row, mixing in some dramatic come-from-behind efforts. It looked for a moment that they had another up their sleeve, putting together a four-run rally in the sixth after falling into a 6-0 hole, but the effort fell short this time. Grant Gambrell had a tough night in his second appearance since coming over from Kansas City in the completion of the Andrew Benintendi deal. The right-hander allowed five runs on eight hits in two innings, striking out two, walking two, and hitting two batters. Brandon Howlett was again a bright spot at the plate. Getting the start at DH, Howlett was 4 for 5 with a run scored, bringing him to a robust 14 for 30 over his last seven games. Tyler Esplin added three hits, and Cameron Cannon picked up his 10th double of the year.

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Delmarva jumped out to the early lead with a four-run second inning, but Salem picked up three runs in the seventh and two in the ninth for the comeback win. The big news of the night was the stateside debut of Eduardo Lopez. Lopez, who signed to a $1.15 million bonus in July 2018, got the start playing right field and batting in the seventh spot. A groundout to first base in the second inning was an inauspicious start, but Lopez impressed with a pair of base hits and a run scored. Gilberto Jimenez was the driving force in the comeback win. He ripped a bases-clearing double in the seventh to bring Salem within one, tied the game with a ninth-inning single to center, and came around to score the go-ahead run on a Ceddanne Rafaela base hit. Jimenez finished the night 3 for 5, his third multi-hit game of the series. 

It was an uneven start for Shane Drohan, as the 2020 fifth-round pick allowed four runs on two hits in two innings, striking out three and walking five. Casey Cobb, Brandon Walter, and Cody Scroggins picked him up, combining for seven no-hit innings to enable the Jimenez comeback. Cobb and Walter allowed one baserunner apiece in three innings each, with Cobb hitting a batter and Walter issuing a walk. Scroggins struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to earn the save.

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Player of the Day: Brayan Bello continues to stake his claim as the breakout player of 2021. After an outstanding run with High-A Greenville, the 22-year-old was promoted to Portland, making his debut at the level a week ago. While his first start was solid, Friday night's effort against Binghamton was right in line with his dominant time with the Drive. Allowing one run on two hits while striking out 10, Bello lowered his ERA between the two levels to 2.20. Through 41 innings on the season, he has allowed 32 hits, walked just 10, and struck out 57 batters. 

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello by Kelly O'Connor