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July 13, 2022 at 7:04 AM

Cup of Coffee: Casas begins rehab stint; Wilson powers Portland


7/13 Cup of Coffee:
As Chris Sale made his long-awaited return to the major league squad, a bevy of banged-up major and minor leaguers took steps forward on Tuesday night. Triston Casas joined the FCL Red Sox after missing nearly two months with an ankle injury. Thaddeus Ward moved from the FCL to Salem, turning in a strong start, joined by a successful return to the lineup by Marcelo Mayer. Major leaguers Garrett Whitlock, Josh Taylor, and Matt Barnes also made appearances. Outside of the MASH tent, Izzy Wilson (pictured) homered twice to lead Portland, while Chris Murphy continued to impress on the mound in Worcester. 

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Chris Murphy was outstanding in his third Triple-A start. The left-hander went seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits, walking two, and striking out three. He lowered his ERA to an even 3.00 since his promotion and 2.66 across the two levels. Darwinzon Hernandez tossed a scoreless eighth before Norfolk reached Zack Kelly on a solo home run in the ninth. Worcester had to scrape for its runs, with Devlin Granberg racing home on a wild pitch in the third and a Ronaldo Hernandez sacrifice fly plating Nick Sogard in the seventh.

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After carrying the offensive load all evening, Izzy Wilson put on the finishing touches with a two-run walk-off home run. Wilson also hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning, as well as a triple and single. Overall, he went 4 for 4 with a stolen base, three runs scored and five RBI. Wil Dalton and Elih Marrero also went deep for the Sea Dogs. There was a scary moment in the fifth inning as Ceddanne Rafaela was on the ground for several minutes after being hit with a pitch on his hand. He departed the game, and there had not been any word on the extent of the injury.

It was a tough outing for Victor Santos, whose 22nd-birthday celebration was spoiled by a Patriots lineup reaching him for six runs on 10 hits in three innings of work. Garrett Whitlock continued his rehab, throwing two scoreless innings, allowing one hit, striking out one, and throwing 16 of 20 pitches for strikes. Josh Taylor followed with a scoreless inning of work as he continues his rehab. Oddanier Mosqueda vultured the win on Wilson's walk-off after surrendering a pair of runs that tied the game in the top of the ninth.

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The Drive fell despite a three-hit effort from Gilberto Jimenez. The 22-year-old tripled and singled twice, driving in a run. Nick Northcut blasted his league-leading 24th home run of the season, a two-run shot in the ninth. Shane Drohan was charged with the loss, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings. Drohan struck out six, walked four, and threw 83 pitches of which 53 were strikes.

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Thaddeus Ward threw three perfect innings as he continues the road back after Tommy John surgery. He struck out four and needed just 34 pitches, 25 for strikes. Marcelo Mayer had an encouraging return after leaving Sunday's doubleheader opener with back tightness, blasting a two-run opposite field home run and drawing a walk in his two plate appearances. The weather stopped cooperating soon after Ward departed, as the contest was suspended due to rain in the fourth inning. The two teams will finish up before Wednesday's regularly-scheduled contest.

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Out with a sprained ankle since mid-May, Triston Casas made his long-awaited return to game action, getting the start at first base and batting third. He did not make contact in any of his three plate appearances, drawing two walks and striking out once. Allan Castro was 2 for 2 with a run scored, and Miguel Bleis followed up Monday's two-homer performance by going 1 for 3. Matt Barnes continues his rehab, allowing one run on two hits in one inning, striking out two and walking one. Jedixson Paez followed with five strong innings, allowing one run on four hits, striking out two without issuing a walk. The game was called in the bottom of the sixth inning due to rain. 

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The Blue squad fell for just the fifth time all season. Marvin Alcantara brought them within a run with his first professional home run, a two-run shot in the ninth. Alberston Asigen was 2 for 3 with a runs scored and two stolen bases, while Miguel Rojas drove in a pair as part of his 2-for-4 effort. Jean Carlos Reyes turned in a solid start, giving up just one hit in three scoreless innings, striking out three against two walks.

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A trio of hurlers combined on a four-hitter to lead Team Red. Alvaro Mejias was outstanding, giving up just one infield hit in five scoreless innings. He struck out five, did not walk a batter, and retired the final 10 hitters he faced. Irving Medina surrendered an unearned run in his inning of work, followed by three shutout innings for Yonfi Rodriguez. Natanael Yuten led the offense out of the leadoff spot, going 2 for 4 with a double, walk, and two runs scored. Claudio Simon continues to steal bases at an impressive clip, swiping two more including home as part of a double steal in the second inning.

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Player of the Day: After a tough first three months in a Sea Dogs uniform, Izzy Wilson was showing signs of turning things away before Tuesday's breakout. Through 47 games, Wilson was hitting just .118/.235/.201 with two home runs. A two-hit effort last Thursday kicked off a stretch of five consecutive multi-hit games. With four hits, two homers, and 12 total bases on Tuesday, Wilson is 13 for 22, raising his OPS nearly 200 points. 

Photo Credit: Izzy Wilson by Kelly O'Connor