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August 31, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Mata joins WooSox; Romero leads FCL wave to Salem


8/31 Cup of Coffee:
The end of the complex league seasons brought a bevy of promotions as the full-season leagues go into the home stretch. Bryan Mata, the second-ranked pitcher in the system, joined Triple-A Worcester. Mata had thrown 102 1/3 innings at Portland in 2019 and 2022, with the lost COVID-19 season and Tommy John surgery sandwiched in between. Tyler Miller blasted a pair of homers to welcome first-round pick Mikey Romero (pictured) and third-rounder Roman Anthony to the Salem lineup. Greenville fell in a pitcher's duel despite the work of Yusniel Padron-Artiles, while a three-run homer by Christian Koss gave Portland the system's only victory.

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Bryan Mata was solid in his introduction to Triple-A, but the Buffalo lineup hit the Worcester bullpen hard and took advantage of some wildness, reaching base 30 times on the night. Mata went the first three frames, allowing one run on two hits. He did battle some shaky control, walking four batters against one strikeout and needing 72 pitches to get through the three innings. After opening the scoring with a run in the third, Buffalo scored at least one run in each inning after. Only Jake Thompson, who came on to retire the last batter of the ninth inning, came out without surrendering a run. Connor Wong hit a solo home run in the eighth inning, the eighth of the month for the Worcester catcher. Ryan Fitzgerald added a pair of doubles and a run scored. Triston Casas had a single, giving him at least one hit in 26 of his last 28 games.

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A Christian Koss three-run homer in the eighth inning was the decisive moment in Tuesday's back-and-forth contest in Manchester. Koss delivered his 14th homer of the year as part of a 2-for-5 evening that included two runs scored. Wilyer Abreu was 3 for 4 with a walk, scoring three runs and driving in another. David Hamilton had a single and two walks out of the leadoff spot, while Stephen Scott doubled as part of a two-hit effort. Kyle Hart got the starting nod, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits in four innings. Rio Gomez was the beneficiary of Koss's heroics, retiring the last batter of the seventh to get credit for the win. Jacob Wallace and Brett Kennedy went an inning apiece to preserve the victory.

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Runs were hard to come by in Tuesday's series opener, as the teams matched zeroes into the seventh and the Drive offense managed just three hits on the evening. Yusniel Padron-Artiles turned in a solid outing, scattering five hits across 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out five, and walking two. Luis Guerrero was charged with the loss, allowing the two Rome runs (one earned) in 1 2/3 frames of work. At the plate, Matthew Lugo was 1 for 3 with a walk and Greenville's only run. Nick Yorke also singled and walked for the Drive.

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The busload of reinforcements from the Florida Complex League weren't enough for Salem as the Augusta lineup racked up 13 hits on top of seven walks. Mikey Romero, Roman Anthony, and Juan Chacon each made their Carolina League debuts. Anthony had the strongest of the introductions, going 1 for 3 with a walk. Romero struck out three times on his way to an 0-for-5 welcome, and Chacon also was hitless on the night. Tyler Miller (pictured, left) was the offensive highlight, blasting a pair of two-run homers to account for two-thirds of the Salem scoring. Hunter Dobbins had his toughest start of the season as he remains in search for his elusive first pro victory. The 23-year-old righty allowed six runs on eight hits in 2 2/3 innings, with a pair of third-inning homers spelling his demise.

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Player of the Day: On a day where most of the attention was on the group of newly-promoted players, it was one of Salem's most consistent performers throughout 2022 who stole the spotlight. Tyler Miller, second on the team in at-bats behind Eddinson Paulino, ripped a two-run homer in the third inning and followed it with another in the seventh. The two blasts gave Miller 13 on the year, good for second on the squad. Miller was a ninth-round pick out of Auburn in the 2021 draft.

Photo Credit: Mikey Romero, Tyler Miller by Kelly O'Connor