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May 23, 2022 at 7:30 AM

Cup of Coffee: Miller hits walk-off home run; Murphy picks up a victory


5/23 Cup of Coffee: A walk-off home run from Tyler Miller (pictured) in Salem and a strong outing from Chris Murphy led the affiliates to two victories on Sunday. Josh Winckowski started off strong before tiring late, and Jarren Duran and Alex Binelas both went deep. 

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Josh Winckowski was cruising through the first six innings before the wheels fell off in the seventh. Winckowski had allowed just one run over six innings, striking out six without walking a batter. He let the first four batters reach in the seventh before being pulled, and all of them would come around to score. On offense, the two runs came on solo home runs from Jarren Duran and Rob Refsnyder. Duran also struck out three times, and the WooSox struck out 13 times as a team. Ryan Fitzgerald went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts while playing first base. 

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Chris Murphy turned in another stellar start to keep his ERA below 2.00. Murphy allowed one run on four hits over 5 1/3 innings, walking two and striking out four. The 23-year-old now has 75 innings at the Double-A level over the last two years, and he could be looking at a bump up to Worcester with a few more quality starts. Jake Thompson struck out four over 1 2/3 dominant innings of relief, and Chase Shugart got the save with a scoreless ninth. 

Five of Portland's seven hits went for extra bases, led by Devlin Granberg, who went 2 for 4 with two doubles. Wil Dalton and Pedro Castellanos added a double, while Christian Koss laced an RBI triple. 

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The rough times continued for Brendan Cellucci as he gave up two runs in two innings, walking three and striking out three. Yusniel Padron-Artiles picked up the bulk of the relief work, and he was charged with four runs over four innings. The Drive had 10 hits in the game but ran into three outs on the bases. Alex Binelas launched his 10th home run as part of a 2-for-4 day, and Ceddanne Rafaela went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Matthew Lugo finished a great week by going 2 for 4, and Jaxx Groshans drew three walks. 

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Just like the major league club, Salem won with a walk-off home run after a blown lead in the ninth. Tyler Miller was the hero in this one, clubbing his fifth home run of the year. Miller went 1 for 3 with two walks. Eddinson Paulino and Blaze Jordan went 2 for 4 with a double and a walk, and Yorberto Mejicano went 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Felix Cepeda got the start and allowed three runs over three innings. Five relievers followed, and they had mixed results. Salem was up two entering the ninth, but an error by Jordan extended the inning, and Adenys Bautista gave up a game-tying single. 

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Player of the Day: Tyler Miller sent the Salem fans home happy with a walk-off home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth. The 22-year-old was a ninth-round pick in the 2021 draft out of Auburn, and he has struggled so far with a line of .193/.271/.370 through 31 games. A strikeout rate of 37.6% has hampered his offense, but his strikeout rates were much lower in his 101 at-bats last season. He has played third base, first base, and left field this season, and he even played some shortstop in college.

Photo Credit: Tyler Miller by Bryan Green