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July 3, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Yorke goes deep in four-hit night; Groome cruises

7/3 Cup of Coffee
: Despite a night that saw more rainouts than wins, Friday brought a number of strong individual efforts. A resurgent Jay Groome and scalding Tyreque Reed helped Greenville earn the system's only win. Salem fell in a slugfest despite a monstrous effort from Nick Yorke (pictured). The FCL Red Sox dropped to 0-3 in their inaugural season, while rain got the better of both New England affiliates. 


Worcester Red Sox vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (NYY), postponed
For the second time in three days, Mother Nature interfered at Polar Park. With rain still in the forecast for the weekend, the teams have scheduled a doubleheader for July 14. 


Portland Sea Dogs @ New Hampshire Fisher Cats (TOR), postponed
Scheduling a doubleheader Friday after the rainout of Thursday's nightcap was probably wishful thinking in the first place. It was not to be, as the rains continued in Manchester. The teams will try again on Saturday to play two, and the other contest will be part of a twinbill on September 1.


Jay Groome turned in his best outing since 2017, continuing a stretch of solid pitching after a rough start to the year. Things got off to an inauspicious start for the lefty, as he surrendered a single followed by a solo home run in the top of the first. To say that Groome settled in after that would be an understatement: he did not allow another hit the rest of the evening, getting through six innings for the second straight outing. He struck out nine, walked just one, and needed only 81 pitches to get through the six frames. Groome dropped his ERA to 5.36, a mark that is weighed down by the 12 runs he allowed in 7 1/3 frames in his first three starts. Since May 22, he has just a 3.63 ERA, with 55 strikeouts against 16 walks in 39 2/3 innings. 

Despite the strong outing, Groome was still in line to take the loss until a late comeback. After he departed without allowing a hit in his final 5 1/3, Jacob Wallace and Alex Scherff combined for more hitless frames. The Drive finally broke through with a bases-loaded single by Tyler Esplin that drove in a pair. Tyreque Reed saw his home run streak end at four games, but he did reach base three times with a single and two walks. He scored what proved to be the winning run on the Esplin single. Brandon Howlett returned after a week on the concussion-related injured list, going 0 for 2 with two walks. Tyler Dearden doubled as part of a two-hit night


In a wild back-and-forth contest, Salem was able to score five runs to tie the game in the top of the ninth, only to see the Nats walk off in the bottom of the inning. The loss came despite an outstanding effort by Nick Yorke. Boston's top 2020 pick led off the ninth-inning rally with a solo home run, his fourth hit of the night. Gilberto Jimenez got a rare look at the third spot in the batting order and he took a liking to it, going 2 for 4 with a triple, RBI, hit batsman, and two runs scored. Not to be lost wedged in the lineup in between the two top-10 prospects in the Salem lineup, Matthew Lugo went 2 for 5 to extend his hitting streak to six games. 

The many positives of the night did not extend to the mound. Ryan Zeferjahn had a rough go, allowing five runs on four hits in 1 1/3 innings, including a three-run homer in the second that ran him from the game. Zeferjahn struggled with his command, walking three and throwing just 21 of 46 pitches for strikes. The usually reliable Salem bullpen brought little relief, as Fredericksburg picked up seven more runs. Ninth-inning errors by Lugo and Luke Bandy allowed the winning run to score, handing Salem its second consecutive loss to the struggling Nationals.


Still in search of their first victory, it was a tough afternoon for the FCL Sox against their crosstown rivals. There were bright spots at the plate, notably a two-run homer by Angel Maita in the ninth, the first round-tripper of the year for the FCL Sox. Antoni Flores reached base twice with a single and a walk, while catcher Juan Montero connected for a double in his professional debut. Felix Cepeda took the loss, allowing five runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings, walking five, and striking out a pair.


Player of the Day:  Two of Boston's first-round draft picks put themselves in the running Friday, and while Jay Groome's effort and progress were notable, the recognition goes to Nick Yorke. Yorke was something of a surprising choice with the 17th pick in the 2020 draft. His first 20 games did little to reward the Red Sox confidence as he slumped to a .177/.250/.190 line. A switch seemed to flip just before the calendar turned to June, and the 19-year-old has raked every since. His four-hit effort Friday raised his average over 22 games to .395, and it marked his fourth game with at least three hits in less than a month. A seven-game hitting streak might often be described as modest, but there is little modesty in his .452/.514/.710 slash line during that stretch.

Photo Credit: Nick Yorke by Kelly O'Connor