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July 23, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Bonaci shines as games restart; Casas, Yorke return to lineup


7/23 Cup of Coffee:
 The good news: nobody allowed 28 runs. On a day in which the major league club opened the second half by setting a franchise record for runs allowed, the results on the farm were more positive. Most important were the returns of Triston Casas and Nick Yorke to the Worcester and Greenville lineups, respectively. Casas had been out since mid-May with an ankle sprain, while a combination of back issues and turf toe had kept Yorke on the shelf since July 3. Brainer Bonaci (pictured) had a big night despite a Salem loss, while Ceddanne Rafaela helped key an 18-hit barrage in Portland's win.

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Worcester came out of the break by welcoming back Triston Casas. The system's second-ranked prospect got the start following a brief rehab in Fort Myers, playing first base and hitting third. Casas was 0 for 5 in his return but scored a run after reaching base on a force out in the fourth. Ronaldo Hernandez was 3 for 5 with a double and an RBI. Connor Wong returned from a brief call to Boston, going 2 for 5 with a run scored. 

On the mound, Jay Groome allowed four runs on five hits in five innings, striking out five, and walking two. Matt Barnes made his first rehab appearance with the WooSox after three in the FCL. He allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out two batters in 2/3 of an inning. Frank German followed with 1 1/3 perfect innings, striking out two. Zack Kelly threw a perfect ninth but took the tough-luck loss in the 10th when the automatic runner and an error resulted in a pair of runs.

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The Portland lineup totaled 18 hits as every member of the starting lineup recorded at least one base knock. Kole Cottam led the way with four hits, tripling twice and driving in four runs. Ceddanne Rafaela doubled as part of a 3-for-6 effort. David Hamilton was 2 for 6 and hit his eighth home run of the year. Starter Brett Kennedy allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits in 4 1/3. Michael Gettys pitched a scoreless seventh to get credit for the win, and Ryan Fernandez struck out one and walked one in 1 1/3 hitless frames to record the save.

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Nick Yorke joined Casas in the ranks of top prospects returning to the lineup. Yorke struck out in his first four at-bats but settled in to record an RBI single and come around to score as part of a three-run ninth-inning rally. Nathan Hickey led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a double. Tyler McDonough and Matthew Lugo both had two hits and an RBI on the night, and Philip Sikes added two hits of his own. Shane Drohan took the loss, allowing six runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings.

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Salem fell despite an 11-hit effort that included three doubles, two triples, and six stolen bases. Brainer Bonaci scored three of the six Salem runs, going 3 for 5 with a double, triple, and a steal. Marcelo Mayer had a triple and walk, bringing his July line to .386/.525/.659. Tyler Miller was 2 for 4 with three steals, and Eddinson Paulino swiped two bags during his 1-for-5 effort. Starter Angel Bastardo struggled, allowing five runs (two earned) on three hits in 1 2/3 innings. 

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Following a draft that saw Boston select a bevy of middle infielders, shortstop Luis Ravelo and second baseman Ahbram Liendo starred in a rain-shortened contest. Ravelo was 2 for 3 out of the leadoff spot, with a double, triple, RBI, and two runs scored. The extra-base hits were the first of the season for the 18-year-old. Liendo had a pair of doubles, giving him eight on the season. He drove in three runs and scored another. Daniel McElveny had a double, walk, and two stolen bases. Nathanael Cruz got the start, allowing two hits across three scoreless innings, striking out three against two walks. Jose Ramirez got credit for the win despite surrendering four runs in two frames.

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The Pirates held team Blue to just four hits, handing them a second straight loss. Starter Yizreel Burnet was a highlight, going two hitless innings, striking out one, and walking one. Willian Colmenares made his first appearance out of the bullpen following six starts. He allowed one run on five hits in four innings, striking out two, and walking three.

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It was the rare sweep in the Dominican as the Red squad went 3 for 16 with runners in scoring position in Friday's loss. Dennis Reguillo allowed two unearned runs on two hits in four innings, walking three without recording a strikeout. Jose Liriano led the offense, reaching base five times on two singles and three walks. Claudio Simon recorded two hits, including a double, but had a rare day without a stolen base.

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Player of the Day: It has been a solid-if-inconsistent first exposure to full-season ball for Brainer Bonaci. The second baseman had a double and triple as part of a three-hit night on Friday. He entered the contest with just 16 extra-base hits on the year, but a patient approach at the plate has led to 59 walks (against just 62 strikeouts) in 335 plate appearances. Among players in the system with 200 plate appearances, only Niko Kavadas and Nathan Hickey, both draftees out of college in 2021, have a higher walk rate. Friday's six-total-base effort brings Bonaci's July slash line to .265/.415/.429.

Photo Credit: Brainer Bonaci by Kelly O'Connor