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August 13, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Valdez, Casas power WooSox romp


8/13 Cup of Coffee: A pair of slugfests were the highlight of Friday's schedule. It was an offensive onslaught for Worcester with Enmanuel Valdez and Abraham Almonte homering twice and Triston Casas (pictured) going deep on a night he reached base five times. A late rally helped Salem vault to the victory, while Bryan Mata held the Flying Squirrels in check for Portland. Greenville bettered its Thursday performance by getting some hits, while the FCL needed only three to come out victorious.

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Nine of Worcester's 16 hits went for extra bases in a rout of its Yankee counterpart. Enmanuel Valdez blasted a solo home run in the first and a three-run shot in the fourth as part of a 4-for-6, six-RBI evening. Valdez now has four homers and 12 RBI in eight games since coming over from Houston. Triston Casas reached base five times, going 3 for 4 with a home run, double, and two walks. The 22-year-old is hitting .333/.439/.688 over his last 13 games. Abraham Almonte hit a pair of two-run homers, walked twice, and scored four runs. Franchy Cordero scored three times as part of a 3-for-5 effort, including a double, stolen base, and a walk. 

The offensive explosion came at an opportune time, with Worcester running a bullpen game. Eduard Bazardo got tabbed to open things, allowing three runs in three innings. Jake Thompson earned his first Triple-A victory, giving up one unearned run in two innings, striking out two, and walking one. 

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Portland was outhit nine to five but took advantage of three Richmond errors to score two runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth. Nick Northcut delivered a key two-run double as part of his 2-for-4 evening. Ceddanne Rafaela was 1 for 3 with a walk, stolen base, and run scored. Bryan Mata was excellent, scattering five hits across six scoreless innings and striking out six without issuing a walk. He induced seven ground-ball outs, threw 58 of his 89 pitches for strikes and lowered his ERA to 2.45 since rejoining the Sea Dogs in June. 

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Hickory pitching did not repeat its Thursday no-hitter, but its staff did hold the Drive scoreless into the fifth inning as Greenville fell to 2-7 on the month. Philip Sikes and Gilberto Jimenez had two hits apiece, while Matthew Lugo connected on a double for the team's only extra-base hit. Tyler Uberstine got the start allowing three runs, all unearned, on five hits in 4 2/3 innings.

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In a wild, back-and-forth contest that saw 23 combined hits, Salem scored four runs in the ninth inning to come away with the win. Yorberto Mejicano led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 with a triple, walk, three RBI, and three runs scored. Friday marked the second straight three-hit game for Mejicano and his third multi-hit game in four contests. Eduardo Lopez scored two and doubled as part of his three-hit effort, while Darel Belen blasted his third home run of the year. Johnfrank Salazar had his second straight multi-hit game and first double since his promotion from the Florida Complex League. 

Hunter Dobbins was solid in his start, allowing two runs on four hits in five innings, striking out four without issuing a walk. Kannapolis got to Luis De La Rosa for six runs in a tough outing exacerbated by some defensive miscues. Luis Guerrero had a rude welcome, surrendering a home run to the first batter he saw, but he quickly settled in to retire the final four batters he faced, three by way of the strikeout.

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The FCL Sox lineup managed only three hits, but it was enough as a trio of hurlers combined on a shutout. Yordanny Monegro and Luis Talavera went four innings apiece, both allowing four hits. Talavera got credit for the win, his fifth of the year. Nate Tellier struck out the side in a perfect ninth to pick up the save. Alexis Hernandez provided the offense with a third-inning solo home run, his first of the season. Roman Anthony has a hit in each of his three starts as a professional, picking up a single on Friday.

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In the continuation of an August 5 game suspended by rain, the Guardians quickly took the advantage, scoring three in the top of the eighth. Stiwar Adames got tagged with the loss, his first of the season in 10 decisions. Andy Lugo led the offense, going 2 for 4 with a sacrifice fly and a pair of RBI.

Team Blue got back to its winning ways in the regularly scheduled contest, moving to 38-14 on the year. Lugo was again at the center of the offense, going 2 for 4 with three runs scored, a double, and a stolen base. Diego Rodriguez tripled, scored twice, and drew a pair of walks. Giancarlos Santana got credit for the win, while Ruben De La Cruz went two scoreless to notch the save.

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The Sox and Guardians were color coordinating on Friday, with the blue teams working a split while the Red Sox Red squad prevailed. Freili Encarnacion was 2 for 3 with a walk, stolen base, and run scored. Ronny Ramirez reached base in each of his four plate appearances, going 2 for 2 with two walks. Natanael Yuten doubled for the Sox only extra-base hit. Darlyn De La Cruz, Jogly Garcia, and Starlin Santos split the pitching duties evenly, with the three hurlers going three innings apiece. Garcia got credit for the win while Santos struck out five, walked two, and surrendered just one hit as he got the save.

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Player of the Day: Enmanuel Valdez was in the midst of a breakout season in the Astros organization when they sent him to Boston in the deal for Christian Vazquez. Friday's four-hit, two-homer, six-RBI performance shows that the new locale is not a hindrance. The 23-year-old is 8 for 29 with four homers since the move, good for a .276/.353/.690. Valdez debuted in the SoxProspects.com rankings at 16th, third-highest among the bevy of acquisitions and draftees. 

Photo Credit: Triston Casas by Kelly O'Connor