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September 23, 2022 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Sea Dogs eliminated despite Ward's effort; Murphy shines for WooSox


9/23 Cup of Coffee:
Two Red Sox teams fell in the 10th inning to a Yankees affiliate on Thursday, but only one of those games had playoff significance. While the major league club's results were secondary to the Aaron Judge watch, Portland suffered a crushing defeat to end its season at the hands of Somerset. Thaddeus Ward (pictured) turned in a strong outing in an elimination situation, but the bullpen gave up six runs to send the Sea Dogs home. Worcester was also officially eliminated from playoff contention with its loss to Syracuse.

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Worcester was officially eliminated from postseason contention on Thursday with the loss to Syracuse. Chris Murphy was excellent, reversing a late-season swoon. The left-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits in seven innings, striking out seven without issuing a walk. It was the most strikeouts in a start in which he didn't walk a batter this season. The Mets reached Chase Shugart for two runs on three hits and a walk in the eighth inning, saddling him with the loss. Enmanuel Valdez was the highlight at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI. The double was his ninth since he was acquired for Christian Vazquez before the trade deadline and his 35th overall on the year.

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Game 2, Eastern League Semifinals
It was a painful end to the season for Portland, who led 3-0 through seven innings and 5-3 headed into the ninth. Thaddeus Ward was outstanding, giving up just one hit across 4 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out seven, and walking two. The only negative in Ward's outing was his efficiency, as he needed 77 pitches to get through 17 batters. Jacob Wallace struck out a pair in 1 1/3 scoreless frames out of the bullpen, but each of the other five relievers surrendered at least one run as the Patriots stormed back to take the series.

At the plate, Ceddanne Rafaela had Portland's only multi-hit effort, going 2 for 5 with a triple and a stolen base. Hudson Potts homered for the second time in the series, a two-run blast with two outs in the eighth that gave Portland a 5-3 advantage. Wilyer Abreu did not have a hit but did work three walks.

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Player of the Day: Both of the top 20 prospects on the mound Thursday night could've earned recognition here, but Thaddeus Ward turning in his performance in an elimination game makes him the pick despite the innings advantage for Chris Murphy. Ward, who missed most of 2021 and the first half of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery, had not pitched in 14 days due to a minor injury. His return to the mound was a successful one: in eight Double-A starts between the regular season and playoffs he posted a 2.13 ERA, 1.184 WHIP, and 48 strikeouts against 16 walks in 38 innings. He is scheduled to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, which kicks off in October.

Photo Credit: Thaddeus Ward by Kelly O'Connor