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June 7, 2021 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Bello strikes out nine; Davis homers twice

6/7 Cup of Coffee
: It was a mixed bag for the affiliates on Sunday, with most of the best performances coming from the lower minors. Brayan Bello (pictured) struck out nine and did not walk a batter in his latest gem, while Matt Kent and Shane Drohan also turned in solid performances. Brandon Howlett, Cameron Cannon, and Joe Davis all had great days at the plate as Greenville scored 15 runs and Salem scored 9. 


A day after giving up 18 runs, the Worcester staff struggled again against the Red Wings. With the bullpen already taxed, Kyle Hart had to take one for the team as he surrendered nine runs over 5 1/3 innings. Hart was tagged for four home runs on a 91-degree day with the wind blowing out at 11 mph. Caleb Simpson also allowed a home run, but Kaleb Ort was able to strike out the side in his lone inning of work. 

The only batter to take advantage of the friendly offensive conditions was Franchy Cordero who went 2 for 4 with two doubles and two RBI. Connor Wong also doubled but also struck out three times to give him seven in 11 at-bats since coming off the injured list. 


The Portland pitching staff turned in its second shutout of the series on Sunday to earn the six-game split with the Senators. Matt Kent has been coming out of the bullpen to start the year, but he got the start on Sunday and fired six scoreless innings, allowing six hits and striking out three without walking a batter. The win improved his record to 4-0, and his ERA dropped to a minuscule 0.95. Jose Adames picked up his eighth save by recording the final four outs. He struck out two and did not allow a baserunner.

With Triston Casas with Team USA and Johan Mieses in Worcester, Joey Meneses had to do most of the heavy lifting by himself. Meneses went 2 for 4 with two doubles and an RBI, and Jhonny Pereda went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Meneses should be getting some help soon as Casas is due back with the team on Tuesday. Jeisson Rosario went 0 for 5 and is hitting just .125 in June. 


Greenville fans got a treat on Sunday as Brayan Bello turned in another dominant outing and the Drive offense exploded for 15 runs on 17 hits. Bello punched out nine and did not issue a walk over 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. The 22-year-old improved to 5-0 and now has 45 strikeouts over 31 2/3 innings. 

Six Greenville starters had multi-hit performances, led by Brandon Howlett who went 2 for 3 with a home run, triple, and two walks. Howlett has been hot-and-cold this year, with this breakout performance coming on the heels of a 3-for-24 stretch. Overall his .823 OPS has him trending in the right direction. Cameron Cannon had a career-high four hits, Tyreque Reed went 3 for 6 with a double, and Devlin Granberg went 3 for 4 with three RBI. 


Five home runs and solid pitching led Salem to a blowout victory. Shane Drohan rebounded nicely from his last start, allowing just an unearned run over four innings while striking out four. The left-hander has been a bright spot for Salem this season, as Sunday's start lowered his ERA to 2.70. Robert Kwiatkowski earned the win with two shutout innings, and Casey Cobb struck out the side in order. 

Joe Davis led the 14-hit attack, going 3 for 5 with two home runs and four RBI. The home runs were his third and fourth of the year to raise his OPS to an even 1.000. Ceddanne Rafaela launched his first home run of the year, and Jaxx Groshans and Wil Dalton each hit their third round-tripper. Nicholas Northcut entered the game 2 for his last 20, but he went 2 for 5 with a double. Gilberto Jimenez also went 2 for 5 but was caught stealing for the second time. 


Player of the Day: Joe Davis had a strong case for the award, but it will go to Brayan Bello who racked up nine strikeouts and allowed just four baserunners over 5 1/3 innings. Bello has been dominant all season, and he is making a strong case that he belongs in the Portland rotation. While he's only had six starts this season, the 22-year-old is quickly proving up to the challenge. The Red Sox may want to see a larger sample size before promoting him, but there are currently no holes to poke in his performance. 

Photo Credit: Brayan Bello by Kelly O'Connor