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April 9, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Hamilton a hit in huge Portland debut


4/9 Cup of Coffee
: Along with the major league club, three affiliates had their openers on tap Friday. David Hamilton (pictured) didn't miss a shot as Portland prevailed in a slugfest. Ceddanne Rafaela and Gilberto Jimenez helped key a comeback victory for Greenville, while Marcelo Mayer gave a sneak peek before Salem's opener was suspended. Jeter Downs, coming off a tough spring training and start to 2022, had a big night to help Worcester to its third win in four contests.

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Despite the absence of scorching-hot Ryan Fitzgerald from the lineup, Worcester continued to make use of the long ball, blasting three homers to give the team 10 through four games. Franchy Cordero went deep for the second time this season when he blasted a third-inning grand slam that gave the WooSox a lead they would not relinquish. He added a double and a pair of walks on the evening. Jeter Downs looked to get back on track, blasting a home run and double as part of a 2-for-4 evening. Triston Casas also submitted his first two-hit game of the year, while Johan Mieses went deep for the first time this season after a 22-homer effort in 2021.

On the mound, Josh Winckowski had a strong 2022 debut. The 23-year-old righty allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits across five innings, striking out four against just one walk. He pounded the strike zone, throwing 45 of 65 pitches for strikes, and induced nine ground-ball outs. Geoff Hartlieb fired two scoreless innings of relief, striking out two, walking one, and allowing just one hit. Zack Kelly struck out two of the three batters he faced in a perfect eighth inning, while Jacksonville reached Kaleb Ort for a pair of runs in the ninth. 

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David Hamilton introduced himself to the Red Sox organization in impressive fashion, with 12 total bases and seven runs driven in. Hamilton tripled to lead off the bottom of the first, blasted a two-run homer in the second, and delivered a grand slam in the fourth. He added a single and stolen base for good measure, finishing 4 for 5 with three runs scored and a robust 3.200 OPS. Kole Cottam did not record an out, contributing two doubles, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch. Christian Koss picked up a pair of hits, and Hudson Potts scored twice after working a pair of walks.

Things got off to an inauspicious start for Chris Murphy, as he surrendered a home run on his first pitch of the season. But the left-hander quickly settled in, allowing just one more hit in four innings, striking out seven and walking three. Jacob Wallace fired a hitless sixth inning, striking out a pair while walking one and hitting a batter. Chase Shugart allowed a solo home run, the only hit he gave up in two innings of work. Frank German closed out the win with a scoreless ninth, striking out one and surrendering one hit.

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Ceddanne Rafaela was the hero for Greenville, allowing the Red Sox organization to pick up a win against one Yankee affiliate on the day. Rafaela blasted a decisive two-run homer in the eighth inning, capping a 2-for-5 night in which he scored three runs. Gilberto Jimenez recorded three hits, driving in a run and stealing a base. Matthew Lugo added a double as part of a three-hit night of his own. Nick Yorke also doubled but struck out three times, going 1 for 5 as he follows up on his breakout 2022 campaign. Brian Van Belle matched Portland's Chris Murphy, surrendering a leadoff home run but settling in to go four innings, giving up just the one run on four hits. Devon Roedahl got credit for the win despite giving up a pair of runs in two innings.

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They only got in an inning and a half of opening day at LewisGale Field before the rains came, but that was enough time for Marcelo Mayer to make his presence felt. The fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft delivered an RBI double that accounted for the only scoring so far. Wilkelman Gonzalez twirled two shutout innings. The game will pick up on Saturday in the bottom of the second inning, followed by the regularly scheduled contest.

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Player of the Day: David Hamilton was probably the least-noted piece of the offseason trade that sent Hunter Renfroe to Milwaukee, as the Red Sox re-acquired veteran outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. and also picked up 2021 third-round pick Alex Binelas. It was Hamilton who shined brightest on opening day, however, submitted an incredible 4-for-5 night with two homers, a triple, seven RBI, three runs scored, and a stolen base. The 24-year-old infielder had just eight homers in 459 professional plate appearances coming into the season

Photo Credit: David Hamilton by Kelly O'Connor