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July 8, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Groome Ks nine; Castellanos keeps hitting


7/8 Cup of Coffee:
Portland came away with the only win on Wednesday, despite an (intentionally) abbreviated outing by Brayan Bello. A red-hot Pedro Castellanos and the Sea Dogs bullpen stepped up to secure the win. The other top-ten prospect on the docket was outstanding, as Jay Groome (pictured) gave up just one hit while striking out nine in the Greenville loss. Worcester couldn't solve a returning former top prospect, while Salem's three-game winning streak was snapped.

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The normally potent WooSox lineup was stymied by former top draft choice Mark Appel, attempting a comeback after three years away from the game. Appel held the Worcester lineup hitless through 4 1/3 until Josh Ockimey recorded a base hit. Raynel Espinal ran into trouble as Lehigh Valley scored four runs in the fifth inning. He allowed five runs overall (four earned) on six hits in 4 1/3 innings, getting tagged with the loss. Jose Adames made his Triple-A debut, walking one in a hitless seventh inning. Austin Brice had another scoreless effort, his 11th time in 12 appearances since being sent to Worcester. Tate Matheny came off the bench after Marcus Wilson was ejected and notched a pair of hits, and Yairo Munoz delivered a solo homer in the ninth. Perhaps the biggest news was that Franchy Cordero got his first start at first base after reports of him taking grounders at the position a week ago. With the team possibly in the market for a left-handed-hitting first baseman, Cordero taking quickly to first would be an enticing internal option.

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Box score watchers got a temporary scare when Portland starter Brayan Bello exited after two scoreless innings. Fears were quickly assuaged with the reminder that the 22-year-old righty is lined to pitch on Sunday in the Futures Game, and the quick hook was simply to keep him fresh for the event. A quartet of relievers admirably filled the remaining seven innings, with Denyi Reyes the most effective. Reyes needed only 24 pitches to cruise through three scoreless frames, allowing one hit and striking out one. Pedro Castellanos led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a pair of RBI. He now has a nine-game hitting streak, during which he has an impressive .486/.514/.714 slash line. Joey Meneses blasted a two-run homer in the first, his ninth of the year, while Devlin Granberg doubled as part of a two-hit evening.

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Jay Groome turned in an outstanding start on an otherwise dismal night for the Drive. Groome retired the first 10 batters he faced and surrendered just three baserunners over 5 1/3 innings. Despite giving up two runs on just one hit in the outing, he was saddled with the tough-luck loss. Groome struck out nine batters for the second straight start and walked just two. The bullpen imploded following Groome's departure, allowing one inherited runner to score followed by seven more runs in 3 2/3 innings. At the plate, Christian Koss and Cameron Cannon both had two-hit games from the top two spots in the order. It was the third straight game in which Koss has recorded multiple hits. Tyreque Reed extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an eighth-inning single. Jaxx Groshans had a tough introduction to High-A, striking out in all four of his at-bats. 

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Little went right out on the peninsula for Salem, as the team managed just four hits against the first place Shorebirds. Nick Yorke continues to be a bright spot at the top of the order, as the 2020 first-round pick singled and walked. Stephen Scott doubled for the only extra-base hit by the Salem offense. Ryan Zeferjahn was let down by his defense, surrendering four runs, all unearned, in 4 1/3 innings. 

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Player of the Day: It was a good day for formerly top-ranked amateurs who are looking to re-establish their careers. After a rough start to the season, Jay Groome is giving a glimpse at the player the Red Sox hoped they were getting five years ago. In his last three starts, Groome has struck out 26 batters and walked only four across 17 1/3 innings. Going back over his last nine starts, Groome has posted a 3.60 ERA and 1.067 WHIP in 45 frames, striking out 64 of the 182 batters he's faced (35.2%). Despite his statistical turnaround, the left-hander is still in search of his first win of the season. 

Photo Credit: Jay Groome by Kelly O'Connor