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August 30, 2021 at 6:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Gonzalez debuts in Salem, Yorke homers again

8/30 Cup of Coffee:
The debut of Wilkelman Gonzalez in Salem was a success as the 19-year-old got a win in a rain-shortened game. Jay Groome continued to put up impressive strikeout-to-walk numbers in Greenville, and he was supported by home runs from Nick Yorke, Joe Davis, and Brandon Howlett. Both Ryan Brasier and Danny Santana had strong games for Portland, but it was the power displayed by Tanner Nishioka (pictured) who stole the show with two home runs. 


Raynel Espinal was scheduled to start, but Alex Claudio got the nod instead. Claudio allowed four runs in 2 2/3, and his ERA is now up to 7.71 in seven innings with the WooSox. Durbin Feltman kept Worcester in the game with 2 1/3 scoreless frames, but Eduard Bazardo and Jose Adames were tagged for two runs apiece. Bazardo was making his first rehab appearance in Triple-A after pitching four innings in the FCL. 

Connor WongJoey Meneses, and Josh Ockimey all had two hits, with Wong and Meneses notching one double while Ockimey had two. Ockimey will miss seeing Buffalo as he finished the series going 7 for 18 with three doubles and a home run. 


The ball was flying in Portland on Sunday, as each team clubbed three home runs. Tanner Nishioka had two of Portland's home runs as he went 3 for 4. The other home run was from Danny Santana, as he went 3 for 5 and also stole two bases. AJ Politi did not make it out of the second inning, serving up two home runs, and five runs total, in 1 2/3 innings. Ryan Brasier had a fourth straight scoreless appearance, and Frank German struck out two in a shutout inning of relief. It was German's first true relief appearance of the season, as his other was a three-inning piggyback start. 


A quality start from Jay Groome and an offensive barrage from the top of the order led the Drive on Sunday. Groome struck out eight and walked only one over six innings of three-run ball. Ian Cundall was in attendance and tweeted that Groome's fastball sat 90-93 mph while mixing in a changeup, curveball, and slider. A trio of relievers had identical lines as Brendan CellucciOddanier Mosqueda, and Jacob Wallace all struck out two in a hitless inning.

Leadoff batter Nick Yorke had another tremendous game at the plate, going 3 for 5 with two doubles and a home run. He's up to .435/.458/.826 in his first five games with the Drive. Also going deep were Joe Davis and Brandon Howlett, though Howlett also struck out four times. Christian Koss went 3 for 5 with a double and triple and is now hitting .321/.366/.561 since the start of July. Another hot hitter stayed in his groove as Stephen Scott went 2 for 3 with a double and two walks. 


Wilkelman Gonzalez earned the victory in his Salem debut, allowing one run over 4 2/3. He walked one and struck out three while giving up three hits. Yasel Santana finished the last two innings before the rain came in and ended the contest early. Niko Kavadas launched his first home run for Salem as he went 2 for 3 with a long ball, double, and walk. He has an OPS of .884 despite hitting just .214. Blaze JordanCeddanne Rafaela, and Matthew Lugo also had two hits.


Player of the Day: Tanner Nishioka hit two home runs for his second career multi-homer game. Nishioka opened the season playing mostly third base, but now he is primarily playing second. He has three home runs in 10 games in August, which is good for a quirky month-to-date line of .296/.286/.667. The 26-year-old has been a solid organizational player since being drafted in the ninth round in 2017, and he is now up to a .729 OPS on the season. 

Photo Credit: Tanner Nishioka by Kelly O'Connor