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June 16, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Groome tosses 7 scoreless, Rafaela homers twice for Portland


6/16 Cup of Coffee: It was a banner day for starting pitching up and down Boston's organizational ladder on Wednesday. While Josh Winckowski earned his first career win for the big-league club, Brayan Bello struck out eight batters in Worcester and Jay Groome twirled seven scoreless innings for Portland. On the other side of the ball, Ceddanne Rafaela (pictured) and Pedro Castellanos both homered in Portland's victory while Matthew Lugo went deep for the third time in his last two games in a Greenville loss. 
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In his sixth start of the season for Worcester, top pitching prospect Brayan Bello allowed three earned runs on five hits, two walks, and eight punchouts over five-plus innings of work. The 23-year-old right-hander struck out the side in the top of the first and had yielded just one run through five before allowing three straight batters to reach base in the sixth. Bello now owns an ERA of 3.78 in 33 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. Out of the Worcester bullpen, Michael Feliz, Durbin Feltman, and Frank German combined to give up two runs in their four innings of relief. 

Christin Stewart accounted for three of Worcester's five hits and scored its first run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jeter Downs in the second inning. Johan Mieses also scored on a wild pitch while Connor Wong doubled as part of a 1 for 4 night at the plate.

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In his 11th start of the season for Portland, Jay Groome scattered two hits and four walks to go along with five strikeouts over a season-high seven innings of work. Of the 90 pitches Groome threw, 55 went for strikes. Since the calendar flipped to June, the 23-year-old southpaw has posted a 1.59 ERA in his last three starts, though he has issued 12 walks. In relief of Groome, Zach Bryant retired the side in order in the eighth before Oddanier Mosqueda allowed Reading's lone run in the ninth. 

All six of Portland's RBIs on Wednesday came from the second and third spots in its lineup. Ceddanne Rafaela continued to shine, going 2 for 5 with two home runs and five RBIs out of the two-hole. Pedro Castellanos crushed his eighth home run of the season right after Rafaela hit his first of the night. Hudson Potts also went 3 for 4 with a double and two singles. 

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Matthew Lugo led the way offensively for Greenville. The former second-round pick went 3 for 5 with his ninth home run of the season -- a two-run shot in the sixth inning. Nick Northcut and Joe Davis enjoyed multi-hit games as well while Brandon Howlett and Alex Binelas each had run-scoring knocks. 

On the flip side of things, it was a night to forget for the Greenville pitching staff. Yusniel Padron-Artiles was tagged for five runs in three innings in his ninth start of the season. Jordan DiValerio surrendered six runs while only recording four outs and Casey Cobb gave up a pair in 1 2/3 innings. Jacinto Arredondo and Ryan Fernandez did, however, combine for two scoreless frames to close out the game. 

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Eddinson Paulino got the scoring started for Salem by coming in from third on a strikeout double play in the first inning. Paulino went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, one RBI, one walk, and one stolen base. Blaze Jordan also went 2 for 4 with an RBI while Phillip Sikes went 1 for 1 with a run-scoring triple before being replaced in center field by Kier Meredith in the fourth inning. 

Angel Bastardo got the start for Salem on the mound. The 19-year-old righty allowed three earned runs on four hits, three walks, and zero strikeouts over 2 1/3 innings of work. Only 22 of the 44 pitches he threw went for strikes. Miguel Suero also surrendered three runs out of the bullpen and was charged with the loss. Felix Cepeda was the only pitcher on either side who did not allow a run as he tossed three scoreless innings. 

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Another day, another 17-3 win for one of Boston's Dominican Summer League affiliates. Johanfran Garcia accounted for three of his squad's 13 hits. Garcia, Axel James, Ronny Ramirez, and Renny Flores had two RBIs a piece in the blowout. On the mound, Smil Guzman impressed in his second professional start by allowing just one hit and two walks with three punchouts over four scoreless innings. 

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The Red Sox Blue squad improved to 7-1 on the young season. Armando Sierra reached base in all five of his plate appearances as the 18-year-old outfielder went 4 for 4 with one home run, three RBIs, and one walk on the afternoon. Kelvin Diaz, Albertson Asigen, Andy Lugo, and Jose Mendez also registered multi-hit performances. Stiwar Adames picked up his second win of the season by hurling three one-run innings of relief. 

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Player of the Day: Since earning a promotion from High-A Greenville to Double-A Portland on June 7, Ceddanne Rafaela has gone 11 for 33 (.333) with three doubles, four home runs, 10 RBIs, seven runs scored, two walks, and four strikeouts in eight games with the Sea Dogs. It's been a breakout campaign for the versatile 21-year-old who is currently regarded as the 14th-ranked prospect in the system. 

Photo Credit: Ceddanne Rafaela by Kelly O'Connor