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June 24, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Big Joe homers twice in return, Jordan and Kavadas go back-to-back


6/24 Cup of Coffee: While the big-league club enjoyed a day off in Cleveland, it was an action-packed Thursday for Boston's minor-league affiliates. Kutter Crawford pitched well and Yolmer Sanchez powered the WooSox to another win in Worcester, Ceddanne Rafaela and Tyreque Reed homered as Portland split a doubleheader in Richmond, Big Joe Davis went deep twice in his return to Greenville's lineup, and Blaze Jordan and Niko Kavadas (pictured, left) went back-to-back for Salem. 

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Josh Taylor made the second start of his rehab assignment with Worcester and stranded two base runners while striking out one in a scoreless first inning. Kutter Crawford took over from there and allowed three runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts over five solid innings of work. The 26-year-old right-hander extended Worcester's shutout bid into the sixth inning before committing a pair of errors, including on a pickoff attempt, that helped Charlotte score all three of its runs. In relief of Crawford, Eduard Bazardo worked his way around back-to-back singles in the seventh, Durbin Feltman earned the win by tossing a scoreless eighth inning, and Kaleb Ort notched his 10th save of the year by slamming the door on Charlotte in the ninth. 

Both sides exchanged zeroes up until the bottom of the fifth inning. There, Ronaldo Hernandez led off with a double and Jeter Downs - fresh off making his major-league debut - drew a five-pitch walk. One batter later, Yolmer Sanchez cranked a three-run home run to left field to give Worcester its first lead of the night. Though that lead was short-lived, Christin Stewart broke the 3-3 tie in the eighth by driving in Jaylin Davis all the way from first on what would prove to be the game-winning RBI double off of old friend Yacksel Rios. Davis and Stewart each went 1 for 4, as did Hernandez. Sanchez went 2 for 3 with his eighth homer of the year while Downs and Devlin Granberg both had one hit and drew one walk.

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After Wednesday's contest was rained out, Portland kicked off its doubleheader against Richmond with a one-run win. Brian Van Belle made his second start since being promoted from Greenville earlier this month and surrendered three runs on six hits, one walk, and seven strikeouts over five innings of work. Forty-seven of the 76 pitches the University of Miami product threw went for strikes. Out of the Portland bullpen, Joan Martinez and Jake Thompson combined for two scoreless frames. Thompson earned the first save of his professional career by retiring the side in order in the seventh. 

Ceddanne Rafaela got Portland on the board first with an RBI single in the third inning. The 21-year-old struck again in the sixth by leading the inning off with a solo home run. After Pedro Castellanos reached base via a one-out double, Tyreque Reed came through with the go-ahead two-run home run to right-center field. Rafaela went 2 for 3 with his fifth homer of the year for Portland while Reed went 1 for 3 with his fourth big fly of the year.  

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Things did not go as well for Portland in the second game of Thursday's twin bill. It was an interesting outing for Victor Santos, who gave up three runs right away in the first inning but wound up pitching a six-inning complete game. Over those six frames, the 21-year-old righty surrendered a total of four runs on on four hits, two walks, and six strikeouts. His ERA on the season now sits at 4.05. Portland's only two runs came in the top half of the fifth on a two-run double off the bat of Tyler Dearden. Hudson Potts also doubled as part of a 2 for 2 night at the plate. 

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It was a high-scoring affair at Fluor Field on Thursday night. Chih-Jung Liu, making his 11th start of the season, got rocked for eight earned runs on five hits, five walks, one hit batsman, and one strikeout in just 2 1/3 innings of work. Casey Cobb allowed one unearned run over 2 2/3 innings before Jacob Webb struck out five over two scoreless frames. Cody Scroggins meanwhile, saw his run of consecutive scoreless appearances end at nine as he served up a two-run home run in the top of the ninth. 

Already trailing by eight runs at the midway point of the third inning, Big Joe Davis got his productive night at the plate started with a two-run home run off Logan Workman. An inning later, Antoni Flores and Nick Decker reached on a pair of one-out walks. Alex Erro drove in Flores on a line-drive RBI double before Nick Yorke plated Decker and Erro on a two-run single. Following a Bowling Green pitching change, Alex Binelas ripped a two-out double and Davis followed by going deep for a second time. Yorke went 2 for 4 with two RBIs, Binelas went 2 for 5 with one RBI, Erro went 2 for 4 with one RBI, and Davis went 2 for 4 with his 11th and 12th homers of the season. 

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With a playoff berth on the line, Salem closed out the first half of its season with a win. Unfortunately, it was not enough to clinch an automatic postseason berth since Lynchburg swept its doubleheader on Thursday to win the Carolina League North first-half title. Hunter Dobbins got the start for Salem and allowed just one run on four hits, no walks, and two strikeouts over four effective innings. The Texas Tech product threw 62 pitches (42 strikes). Gabriel Jackon took over for Dobbins and pitched well. The Dominican-born righty also yielded one run on three hits, two walks, and two strikeouts across five solid frames to earn the winning decision and lower his ERA on the year to 5.29. 

Offensively, two swings of the bat were all Salem needed on Thursday. With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Nathan Hickey drew an eight-pitch walk. Blaze Jordan then crushed a two-run home run to give Salem its first lead of the night. Niko Kavadas followed by going deep for the 14th time this season and for the seventh time in his last nine games to make it a 3-1 game. Jordan led the way at the plate by going 3 for 3 with his sixth homer of the year and one walk. Tyler Miller also recorded multiple hits as he went 2 for 3 with a pair of singles.

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Powered by 22 strikeouts from three different pitchers, the FCL Red Sox improved to 8-4 on the young season Thursday afternoon. Nathanael Cruz, making the second start of his rehab assignment, fanned four over two scoreless, no-hit innings. Jose Ramirez followed by punching out a career-best 12 while allowing three runs on three hits, no walks, and two hit batsmen over five innings of bulk relief. Henry Nunez wrapped it up and earned the win by striking out six of the eight batters he faced. 

A pair of sacrifice flies from Juan Chacon and Miguel Bleis scored the FCL squad's first two runs. Bleis scored on an RBI triple off the bat of Lyonell James in the seventh and B.J. Vela scored the winning run on a balk in the ninth. James and Allan Castro led the way with two hits apiece. Bleis went 1 for 2 with an RBI, a run scored, and his fourth stolen base of the year.

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Twelve hits helped the DSL Blue squad improve to 12-3 on the season. Armando Sierra went 3 for 5 with an RBI double and two runs scored. Kelvin Diaz, Miguel Rojas, and Jose Mendez each had two hits. On the mound, Daniel Nunez got the start and scattered four hits, two walks, and three punchouts over three scoreless innings of work. Ali Ascanio picked up the win in relief by allowing one unearned run and striking out four across three innings. 

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The DSL Red squad also racked up the hits en route to a back-and-forth one-run victory. Ronny Ramirez, Claudio Simon, and Frank Astacio all homered for the first time this season. Ramirez went 3 for 5 with three RBIs - including a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning. Simon went 1 for 4 with two RBIs and Astacio went 2 for 5 with one RBI. Out of the leadoff spot, Natanael Yuten went 3 for 5 with a double and walk while the No. 2 hitter, Jancel Santana, scored three runs and stole two bases without recording a hit. All four pitchers who appeared in this game for the Red squad allowed one or more runs. Carlos Reyes earned the win despite getting charged with a blown save and allowing two runs on six hits, one walk, and five strikeouts over three innings of relief.

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Player of the Day: After being sidelined for a week, Big Joe Davis (pictured, right) made his impact felt in his return to Greenville's lineup on Thursday. Not only did the first baseman club his 11th and 12th home runs of the season, but he was also ejected for arguing a called strike three that ended the sixth inning. In 12 games this month, the right-handed hitting Davis is batting .366/.409/.732 with five homers and 11 runs driven in. 

Photo Credit: Niko Kavadas, Blaze Jordan, and Joe Davis by Kelly O'Connor