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August 11, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Lugo and Yorke go deep; Ward tosses 5 scoreless.

8/11 Cup of Coffee:
As the big-league club continues to flounder, Boston's minor-league affiliates went a collective 4-2 on Wednesday. Brian Keller put together another impressive start for Worcester while Ryan Fitzgerald homered in his return to the WooSox lineup. In Portland, Thaddeus Ward twirled five scoreless frames while Tyler Dearden played hero in the Sea Dogs' second straight walk-off victory. Nick Yorke (pictured) went deep for the eighth time this season in Greenville while Brainer Bonaci enjoyed a multi-hit night in Salem's extra-innings loss to Kannapolis. And down in the Dominican Republic, Boston's DSL affiliates swept the competition. 


Another strong start from Brian Keller was not enough to lift Worcester to a win on Wednesday night. Keller allowed one earned run on three hits, three walks, and six strikeouts across six innings of work. The 28-year-old has now surrendered one run or less in his last seven starts to lower his ERA on the season to 3.16. In relief of Keller, A.J. Politi worked his way around three hits and one walk in a scoreless seventh inning. Chase Shugart, on the other hand, was charged with the loss and blown save as he gave up the game-tying and game-winning runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Offensively, the Worcester lineup managed just two runs on eight hits. Franchy Cordero and Pedro Castellanos each went 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles between them. Ryan Fitzgerald plated Castellanos when he crushed his 15th home run of the season in the second inning. It was Fitzgerald's first game since July 26. Triston Casas drew Worcester's only walk of the night. 


Portland walked off Richmond in 10 innings for the second straight night. Tyler Dearden provided the late-game heroics by scoring Elih Marrero on an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th. Portland's only other hits came from Ceddanne Rafaela and a rehabbing Enrique Hernandez. Wilyer Abreu also drew a walk and stole his 25th base of the season.

Thaddeus Ward made his second start since returning to Portland earlier this month. The 25-year-old right-hander yielded just three hits and two walks to go along with four strikeouts over five scoreless innings of work. He retired 14 of the 19 batters he faced and finished with a final pitch count of 77. Out of the Portland bullpen, a rehabbing Tyler Danish faced the minimum in the sixth before Oddanier Mosqueda and Jacob Wallace combined for four scoreless frames of relief to preserve the shutout effort. 


It was a productive night at the plate for Nick Yorke in Greenville's win over Hickory at Fluor Field. Yorke went 2 for 4 out of the leadoff spot with his eighth home run of the season and four RBIs. Fellow infielder Matthew Lugo also went deep for the 13th time this year while Blaze Jordan, Gilberto Jimenez, and Max Ferguson enjoyed multi-hit games. Lugo and Ferguson each stole a base as well. Nathan Hickey drew a game-high three walks and scored one run. 

Chih-Jung Liu made his 16th start of the season for Greenville. The right-hander allowed three runs on five hits, two walks, and three strikeouts over five innings. All three of those runs came in the top of the first as Liu retired 12 of the final 15 batters he faced. Ryan Zeferjahn took over for Liu out of the bullpen and surrendered one unearned run in the top of the seventh. Robert Kwiatkowski, meanwhile, was tagged for four runs in the top of the eighth. Cody Scroggins earned the win by recording the final four outs of the contest. 


Brainer Bonaci stayed hot on Wednesday, going 2 for 5 with a double, two RBIs, and one run scored out of the two-hole. Eddinson Paulino also doubled and drove in a run out of the leadoff spot. Kier Meredith went 1 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base while Daniel McElveny drew three free passes of his own. 

On the mound, Angel Bastardo made his 19th start of the season for Salem. The 20-year-old righty allowed four runs on five hits, zero walks, and seven strikeouts to tie a season-high in that category. Nathanael Cruz surrendered two runs in the sixth before Blake Loubier and Luis Guerrero combined for two scoreless frames. In the 10th inning of a 6-6 game, Christopher Troye allowed the automatic runner to score from second base and walk it off for Kannapolis on a pair of wild pitches. 


Three innings of five-plus runs led the Red Squad to a win on Wednesday. Johanfran Garcia, Axel James, and Ronny Ramirez each tallied three hits while driving in a total of eight runs. Out of the leadoff spot, Franyer Noria went 2 for 5 with a double, four RBIs, three runs scored, and a walk. Freili Encarnacion also collected two hits while driving in two runs and scoring three times. Frank Astacio added a triple. After the three pitchers before him gave up a combined 11 runs over six innings, Junior Delanda closed things out with three scoreless, one-hit frames to earn his second save of the season.


The Blue Squad improved to 37-12 on the season thanks to a four-run seventh inning. Jhaydel Flores led the way offensively with three hits, including an RBI single in the sixth inning. Marvin Alcantara and Karim Ayubi also doubled as part of two-hit days at the plate while Fraymi De Leon stole his 18th base of the year. Jean Carlos Reyes pitched well, allowing just one run on a hit, two walks, and one hit batsman while striking out two over 3 2/3 solid innings. Wandy Abreu took home the win, fanning four across three one-run innings out of the bullpen. 


Player of the Day: Don't look now, but Nick Yorke is starting to heat up in Greenville. Following Wednesday's performance, the 20-year-old second baseman has multiple hits in three of his last four games. The 2022 season as a whole has been somewhat disappointing for Yorke, but a strong finish over the final months could be a promising development for the organization's fourth-ranked prospect. 

Photo Credit: Nick Yorke by Kelly O'Connor