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July 8, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Sogard leads offensive onslaught for Portland, Ward's rehab continues in Fort Myers

7/8 Cup of Coffee: While the big-league club welcomed the Yankees to Fenway Park for the first time this season, Boston's minor-league affiliates went a collective 5-2 on Thursday. Chris Murphy made his home debut and Jeter Downs homered again in Worcester, Nick Sogard (pictured) and Co. feasted on Binghamton pitching for Portland, Big Joe Davis went deep for Greenville, and Eddinson Paulino stole two bases for Salem. At the rookie-league level, Thaddeus Ward impressed in his second rehab start down in Fort Myers.

Chris Murphy made his Polar Park debut on Thursday night. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed three earned runs on four hits and two walks to go along with seven strikeouts over five innings of work. All three runs he gave up came in the top half of the fifth. A.J. Politi took over for Murphy and retired the side in order in the sixth. A rehabbing Josh Taylor surrendered two runs while only recording the first out of the seventh inning. Zack Kelly recorded the final two outs of the seventh and tossed a scoreless frame in the eighth before making way for Chase Shugart, who did the same in the ninth. 

Worcester struck first on Thursday when Johan Mieses drove in Jeter Downs on an RBI single in the third inning. Downs then crushed a solo shot in the fifth inning for his 15th home run of the season before Connor Wong plated Mieses on a run-scoring single. Downs, Mieses, and Wong all went 2 for 4 with one RBI to account for all six of Worcester's hits. 


An 11-run first inning powered Portland to a blowout victory over Binghamton on Thursday. The very first two pitches thrown by Binghamton starter Alec Kisena were taken deep by Alex Binelas and Ceddanne Rafaela. Stephen Scott closed out an explosive first inning with a three-run homer. Nick Sogard clubbed a two-run homer in the second before Izzy Wilson plated three on his third big fly of the season in the third. Binelas went 3 for 4 with two RBIs out of the leadoff spot, Rafaela went 2 for 5 with an RBI and two runs scored, Christian Koss went 3 for 6 with two doubles and three runs, Scott went 2 for 4 with three RBIs, two runs, and two walks, Kole Cottam went went 2 for 6, Wilson went 2 for 4 with four RBIs and two runs, and Sogard went 3 for 5 with two doubles and a season-high of four runs driven in.

Brett Kennedy put together his longest start of the season for Portland after recording one out in his last time out. The journeyman right-hander kept Binghamton off the scoreboard while scattering six hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts over seven impressive innings of work. Sixty-three of the 96 pitches Kennedy threw went for strikes as he lowered his ERA on the year to 4.46. Out of the Portland bullpen, Jacob Wallace tossed a scoreless eighth inning before Oddanier Mosqueda allowed one run to score in the ninth.


Phillip Sikes made his first home run at High-A count, as he hit a three-run blast that gave Greenville an early 3-0 lead in the second inning. Matthew Lugo scored Greenville's next two runs; first on a fielding error in the third and then on a Niko Kavadas RBI single in the fifth. Big Joe Davis followed by plating two on his 15th big fly of the year. In the ninth, Lugo drew a bases-loaded walk while Nick Decker and Tyler McDonough scored on a pair of wild pitches and Lugo scored on a Kavadas sacrifice fly. Sikes went 2 for 3 with three RBIs, Davis went 2 for 6 with two RBIs, and Lugo scored thrice while stealing his seventh base of the season.

Ryan Zeferjahn got the start for Greenville and gave up just one run while scattering three hits over four innings. The University of Kansas product recorded a season-high of six strikeouts and only issued one walk. Devon Roedahl followed with two scoreless innings out of the Greenville bullpen before Brendan Cellucci allowed two runs to score in the eighth. Michael Gettys closed it out by notching the final four outs of the contest. 


It was a tough night on the mound for Wikelman Gonzalez. The 20-year-old righty lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his 16th start of the season for Salem, allowing four runs on five hits, three walks, and five strikeouts. His ERA on the year now sits at 4.85. In relief of Gonzalez, Adenys Bautista, Luis De La Rosa (making his Low-A debut), and Graham Hoffman combined for 5 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

All but two members of Salem's starting lineup recorded at least one base hit on Thursday. Leadoff man Brainer Bonaci drew four walks and scored three runs, Eddinson Paulino went 2 for 5 with an RBI double, Marcelo Mayer reached base three times on a double and two walks, Blaze Jordan drove in two runs, and Yorberto Mejicano went 2 for 5 with a run, RBI, and one walk.


Thaddeus Ward made the second start of his rehab assignment with the FCL Red Sox on Thursday afternoon. The right-hander, who is working his way back from Tommy John surgery, allowed just one hit and no walks with six strikeouts over three scoreless innings. Jedixson Paez took over for Ward and scattered five hits while striking out four and walking three across four one-run innings to earn the win. Luis Talavera picked up the save by tossing two scoreless frames. 

Ahbram Liendo got the scoring started with a two-run single in the second inning off 2020 first-round draft pick Nick Bitsko. Daniel McElveny drove in a run with a double in the sixth while Miguel Bleis did the same with a single in the seventh. In addition to his two RBIs, Liendo also drew two walks and scored one run.


The Blue squad improved to a ridiculous 21-3 on Wednesday. Albertson Asigen led the way by going 3 for 5 with two runs scored. Andy Lugo went 2 for 5 with two doubles, two RBIs, and one run scored while Karim Ayubi went 2 for 4 with two runs scored. Fraymi De Leon and Armando Sierra each drove in two runs apiece. Cristian Nunez got the start on the mound and has yet to allow a run through his first three outings of the season. Stiwar Adames picked up his sixth win of the year by twirling two scoreless innings in relief of Nunez.


The Red squad received a strong start from Eybersson Polanco, who struck out five while scattering two hits and no walks over four scoreless innings of work to lower his ERA on the season to 2.38. Three different relievers combined to give up five runs, however. Offensively, Natanael Yuten led the way by going 2 for 5 with a two-run triple, a walk, and a stolen base. Freili Encarnacion and Frayner Noria also had four hits between them while Ronny Ramirez and Yosander Asencio each drew two walks.


Player of the Day: The lesser-known prospect acquired from the Rays in the Ronaldo Hernandez deal last February, Nick Sogard is now in the midst of his second season with the Red Sox organization. Following Thursday's productive showing, the versatile 24-year-old is batting .253/.361/.371 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 57 games with the Sea Dogs. He has also appeared in six games with the WooSox while seeing playing time all around the outfield and every infield position besides first base. 

Photo credit: Nick Sogard by Kelly O'Connor