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July 26, 2021 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Sale strikes out nine, Rodriguez stifles Fredericksburg

7/26 Cup of Coffee:
Chris Sale inched closer to his return to Boston as he struck out nine batters in Portland's walk-off win over Harrisburg. One day after Tyreque Reed hit a walk-off home run for the Sea Dogs, Devlin Granberg hit a walk-off single. Reed homered again on Sunday, while Ryan Fitzgerald continued to have the best month of his career. It was a rough outing for Grant Gambrell in Greenville, while Jorge Rodriguez (pictured) and Ceddanne Rafaela led the way for Salem. 


Enmanuel De Jesus made his Triple-A debut on Sunday, and the 24-year-old left-hander allowed two runs over five innings, walking one and striking out three. Jose Adames added another scoreless inning, and he has yet to allow a run over in his first six appearances for the WooSox. The offense was not able to do anything to pick them up as they only had two hits. Yairo Muñoz led off the game with a single, and Jeremy Rivera added a single in the fifth. 


With the help of Chris Sale, the Sea Dogs are looking to start a new winning streak as they improved to 19-2 in July with their third straight win. Sale went 3 2/3 innings and threw 64 pitches. Red Sox manager Alex Cora announced that his next start will be in Worcester on July 31. Sale struck out nine and did not walk a batter but did allow two runs and gave up three doubles and a home run. AJ Politi was the bulk reliever after Sale left, allowing two runs while striking out five in 4 1/3 innings. 

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Devlin Granberg laced an RBI single for the walk-off victory. Granberg and Jeisson Rosario both went 3 for 5. Three Portland batters took advantage of the 16 mph wind blowing out to center field with Pedro CastellanosTyreque Reed, and Ryan Fitzgerald all going deep. Reed, after his second straight game with a home run, is batting .333/.389/.667 over his first eight games with the Sea Dogs. Fitzgerald also strengthened his case for Player of the Month consideration as he is now hitting .373/.434/.716 in July. 


The Grasshoppers made life difficult for Grant Gambrell as they chased him from the game after he threw 69 pitches in 2 1/3. He gave up three runs on four hits, walking three and striking out two. It was the first time in more than a month that he struck out fewer than five batters. Brendan Nail was the only pitcher to have success as he struck out five in 2 2/3 hitless innings. The only Drive batter to record multiple hits was Cameron Cannon who went 2 for 4. Joe Davis went 1 for 4 with a double and an RBI, and Tyler Esplin went 1 for 4 with a triple. 


The Nationals were completely stifled by Jorge Rodriguez as he struck out eight while allowing just three hits in five shutout innings. Ryan Fernandez was just as effective out of the bullpen as he struck out three in three innings, and Devon Roedahl finished off the shutout with one strikeout in the ninth. Most of the offense was provided by Ceddanne Rafaela as he went 2 for 4 with a triple and a home run. Gilberto Jimenez went 1 for 3 and added a sacrifice fly for an insurance run in the eighth. 


Player of the Day: It has been an up-and-down full-season debut for Jorge Rodriguez, and he has dropped from 29th to 50th in the rankings since the start of the season. He was at his best on Sunday, striking out eight without walking a batter in five scoreless innings. Rodriguez entered the game with an ERA of 5.48, but his batting average on balls in play of .401 shows that luck had not been on his side. Sunday's appearance got his ERA under 5.00, and the 20-year-old now has 46 strikeouts in 51 innings. 

Photo Credit: Jorge Rodriguez by Kelly O'Connor