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July 15, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Paulino comes through with clutch homer in Salem, Kavadas and Northcut power Greenville


7/15 Cup of Coffee: As the big-league club continues to slide in the standings, Boston's minor-league affiliates went a collective 4-5 on Thursday. Christin Stewart homered for the 16th time this season as Worcester got swept in a doubleheader, Alex Binelas and Christian Koss accounted for Portland's only two runs in a loss at home, Niko Kavadas and Nick Northcut both went deep in Greenville's convincing win, and Eddinson Paulino (pictured) delivered a clutch two-run homer to lift Salem to a come-from-behind win over Kannapolis. At the rookie-league level, Triston Casas and Miguel Bleis each enjoyed multi-hit games down at the complex. 

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In Game 1 of Thursday's doubleheader in Norfolk, the Worcester lineup managed all of one run. That lone run came in the top of the fourth inning, when Christin Stewart clubbed his 16th home run of the season off big-league veteran Matt Harvey. Opposing Harvey was Brian Keller, who was making his 12th start of the season for Worcester. The 28-year-old right-hander pitched well, allowing one run on four hits, two walks, one hit batsman, and five strikeouts over five solid innings. Forty-five of the 77 pitches he threw went for strikes. Eduard Bazardo, on the other hand, took the loss as he gave up a walk-off single to Terrin Vavra in the bottom of the seventh. 


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In Game 2 of the twin bill, A.J. Politi served as the opener for Worcester and struck out a pair over two scoreless frames. Geoff Hartlieb followed with two shutout innings of his own before James Norwood ran into trouble in the fifth. Norwood managed to record just one out while getting rocked for four runs (three earned). Jake Thompson gave up three more before getting out of the inning. Durbin Feltman, meanwhile, surrendered four more runs in the sixth. 

On the other side of things, the Worcester lineup was held to just four runs on hits. Pedro Castellanos went 2 for 3 with an RBI single while Nick Sogard went 1 for 2 with a two-run double and Connor Wong went 1 for 4 with a run-scoring single. Devlin Granberg and Jaylin Davis each drew two walks.

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With Jay Groome earning a promotion to Worcester, Portland was forced into a bullpen game on Thursday. Dylan Spacke got the start and surrendered four earned runs on six hits, two walks, and zero strikeouts over three innings of work. Zach Bryant took over for Spacke and served up a pair of solo homers in his three innings of relief. Joan Martinez, who did strike out five, and Ryan Fernandez each gave up a run as well. 

Portland's only two runs of the day came off Somerset starter Luis Medina in the bottom of the fifth inning. Alex Binelas and Christian Koss each drove in a run on a pair of run-scoring singles. Kole Cottam accounted for Portland's only extra-base hit on a sixth-inning double while Tyler Dearden went 2 for 4 with a run scored.

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Niko Kavadas and Nick Northcut are proving to be quite the dynamic duo for Greenville. Both infielders homered on Thursday, as Kavadas went 1 for 3 with a two-run blast and Northcut went 3 for 4 with his 26th home run of the season. Gilberto Jimenez doubled and scored a run as part of a 2 for 4 night at the plate. Out of the leadoff spot, Phillip Sikes went 1 for 4 with a two-run single, a walk, and a stolen base. Matthew Lugo also tripled. 

Ryan Zeferjahn made his third start of the season for Greenville. The Kansas product struck out four while scattering two hits and two walks over four scoreless innings to lower his ERA on the season to 4.93. Out of the Greenville bullpen, Joey Stock picked up the win by fanning four across three one-run innings. Jacob Webb and Cody Scroggins then combined for two shutout frames to secure the victory.

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It was a tightly-contested affair in Salem on Thursday night. Bryan Gonzalez, who went 2 for 4, accounted for his side's first run on an RBI single in the second inning. In the seventh, Eddinson Paulino came through in the clutch by mashing a go-ahead two-run home run to right center field. Paulino went 2 for 4 with his seventh homer of the season. Eduardo Lopez went 2 for 3 with a double, run, and a walk while Tyler Miller also collected two hits and stole a base.

Angel Bastardo got the start for Salem and yielded two earned runs on two hits, four walks, and four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work. Osvaldo De La Rosa recorded the final out of the fifth and tossed two more scoreless frames to ultimately earn the win. Christopher Troye closed things out by punching out five of the six batters he faced to notch the first save of his professional career. 

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In the second game of his rehab assignment with the FCL squad, Triston Casas went 2 for 4 with two doubles and one run scored. He played seven innings at first base before being replaced by Alex Zapete. Batting one spot behind Casas was Miguel Bleis, who also went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and his eighth stolen base of the season. 

Elmer Rodriguez-Cruz made his third start of the season and allowed just one hit and one walk to go along with three strikeouts over three scoreless innings. The 18-year-old right-hander has now surrendered just two earned runs through his first 18 innings in pro ball. Luis Talavera was first out of the bullpen and tossed four one-run innings in which he struck out a pair. Henry Nunez was ultimately charged with the loss as he allowed the game-winning run to score in the bottom of the eighth.

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In the completion of a game that was originally suspended on June 14, the Red squad were unable to complete a comeback in the first of two against the Astros Blue affiliate on Thursday. Picking things up in the sixth inning, Royman Blanco surrendered two runs on five hits, no walks, and three punchouts across three innings of relief. Jancel Santana plated one run in the bottom of the sixth before Nataneal Yuten drove in another on an RBI double in the bottom of the eighth.

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The Red squad was at least able to bounce back on Thursday afternoon. Dennis Reguillo led the way on the mound by spinning four scoreless, no-hit innings in his fifth start of the season. Left-hander Starlin Santos took over for Reguillo and gave up just one hit over three more shutout frames to earn the winning decision. The only two runs of the contest came on an RBI single off the bat of Frank Astacio that was accompanied by a fielding error, thus allowing another run to score. Astacio went 2 for 3 with his RBI while Claudio Simon stole his 25th and 26th bases of the season.

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The Blue squad snapped its two-game skid on Thursday as five different pitchers combined to give up only one run over nine strong innings. Wandy Abreu picked up the winning decision with his three scoreless frames. Stiwar Adames followed by fanning five over four more shutout innings. Offensively, Helison Mota went 2 for 4 with two doubles, an RBI, and one run out of the nine-hole. Andy Lugo and Marvin Alcantara also doubled in the win.

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Player of the Day: It has been a tough month of July for Eddinson Paulino, but he deserves the spotlight here following Thursday's clutch performance. The versatile 20-year-old out of the Dominican Republic is now batting .240/.331/.435 with 24 doubles, eight triples, seven home runs, 41 RBIs, 55 runs scored, 17 stolen bases, 40 walks, and 75 strikeouts in 77 games (363 plate appearances) with Salem this season.

Photo Credit: Eddinson Paulino by Kelly O'Connor