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June 12, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Northcut, Rafaela homer again, Liu dominant for Greenville


6/12 Cup of Coffee: Greenville was the only Sox affiliate to win last night, as Nick Northcut followed his three-home-run game with another home run. Ceddanne Rafaela also homered again for Portland. Chih-Jung Liu (pictured) had the best pitching performance last night, striking out nine in five innings for Greenville. 

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The Sox lost by the same score for the second consecutive night. They had just four hits, as Jaylin Davis and Yolmer Sanchez each hit doubles. Ronaldo Hernandez also belted a solo home run, his sixth of the season. After Michael Feliz struggled, Taylor Cole came in and tossed three scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and no walks with four strikeouts. Zack Kelly also pitched a scoreless frame. 

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Ceddanne Rafaela stayed hot, going 2 for 3 with a home run, two RBI, and a walk. It's his second straight day with a home run and he raised his OPS with Portland to 1.105. Pedro Castellanos also had two hits and drove in a run. Victor Santos started and allowed four runs (three earned) in 5 1/3 innings, but he impressively struck out eight and did not walk anybody. The eight strikeouts for Santos are a season high for him. 

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Nick Northcut can't stop hitting home runs. The first baseman belted another one last night, a day after hitting three long balls. He now has 20 home runs and 45 RBI this year. Joe Davis also blasted his ninth home run in the second inning. Those two home runs were all Greenville needed, as Chih-Jung Liu was tremendous on the mound. The 23-year old righty threw five shutout innings with nine strikeouts. He walked two and allowed just three hits. The nine punchouts tied a season-high for Liu. Casey Cobb had a pair of scoreless innings of his own with two strikeouts, while Ryan Fernandez picked up his fifth save of the year with two strikeouts in the ninth. 

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Blaze Jordan had a big day at the plate, as the third baseman went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles and a walk. He now has 17 doubles this season. Brainer Bonaci also had a solid game leading off, going 2 for 4 with a double and a walk. Yorberto Mejicano doubled, singled, and walked as well. Hunter Dobbins struggled in his second outing, allowing three runs on six hits in 2 2/3 innings. Gabriel Jackson also had a rough game, surrendering seven runs in 2 2/3 frames. Jhonny Felix pitched a clean eighth inning with a strikeout.

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This game was suspended due to rain very early, as the first inning hadn't ended yet. After the Sox went down in order in the top half of the first, the Twins got a couple runs off Jose Ramirez. 

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The Sox recorded just three hits in this one, as Claudio Simon went 1 for 3 with a double out of the leadoff spot. Natanael Yuten and Johanfran Garcia also each went 1 for 3 with a base hit. Cesar Ruiz was very good in his start, tossing three scoreless innings with five strikeouts and just one hit allowed. Royman Blanco also fired two perfect innings. 

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This game was called after seven frames, as the Sox got shut out. Albertson Asigen picked up two hits in three trips to the plate to raise his season average to .368. 18-year old Armando Sierra went 1 for 2 with a walk and a single. He's been so good early on that these numbers actually lowered his season average to .529 and his OPS to 1.424. Jean Carlos Reyes went the first four and allowed just a run on two hits with three strikeouts. Cesar Soto also tossed a clean inning with two strikeouts. 

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Player of the Day: Chih-Jung Liu essentially repeated his second start of the season back in April, striking out nine in five shutout innings in each start. In between, Liu as struggled a bit, but he still has an impressive 52 strikeouts to 16 walks in 42 1/3 innings. He was signed back in 2019 as an international free agent from Taiwan. Last year with the FCL Sox and Salem, he posted a 4.23 ERA with 60 strikeouts in 50 1/3 innings.

Photo Credit: Chih-Jung Liu by Kelly O'Connor