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September 30, 2021 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Espinal solid again as WooSox win


9/30 Cup of Coffee:
After saying goodbye to Polar Park for the winter, Worcester kicked off the final series of 2021 down in Allentown with a victory over the IronPigs. 

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In what will likely be his final start of 2021, Raynel Espinal (pictured) locked up with Phillies prospect Colton Eastman on a pitchers' duel. The opposing starters combined to allow just one run in 12 2/3 innings, with former first overall pick Mickey Moniak connecting on a homer off Espinal in the sixth. Espinal finished with the one run allowed on four hits in six innings. He struck out four, walked two, and lowered his ERA to 3.44. 

Despite managing only five hits, and just one for extra bases, Worcester plated a pair of runs off the Lehigh Valley bullpen to come away with the win. Triston Casas tied the game up in the eighth with a sacrifice fly that scored Jarren Duran. In the ninth, a critical wild pitch with one out sent Tate Matheny to third base, where he was able to score on a Johan Mieses ground ball fielder's choice. The only extra-base hit of the evening belonged to Danny Santana. Ronaldo Hernandez had a pair of base hits and is now 8 for 18 since his promotion from Portland. Jeter Downs had a single, walk, and a stolen base. 

A quartet of relievers followed Espinal with three shutout innings. Geoff Hartlieb got credit for the win with a hitless eighth inning. Stephen Gonsalves, largely a starter across his eight-year professional career, handled to ninth to earn his first career save. 

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Player of the Day: If it was his last outing of 2021, it was an appropriate finish for Raynel Espinal. The 29-year-old righty was a model of consistency in going from minor league Rule 5 draftee to making his major league debut. Wednesday marked the ninth time in 21 starts this year that Espinal completed at least six innings. He finishes with a 3.44 ERA, 115 strikeouts, and 43 walks allowed across 117 2/3 innings. 

Photo Credit: Raynel Espinal by Kelly O'Connor