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May 1, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Lugo leads Portland to another win; Jordan homers to extend hitting streak


5/1 Cup of Coffee:
Because Salem's game against Delmarva got rained out, only three of Boston's minor-league affiliates were in action on Sunday. Worcester closed out the weekend by winning its fourth straight thanks to a strong start from the rehabbing James Paxton and a three-hit, three-RBI showing from Daniel Palka. Matthew Lugo (pictured) also recorded three hits and three RBIs as Portland needed extra innings to pick up its fifth straight win over Erie. And although not much went right in Greenville, Blaze Jordan did homer.

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Making what might be his final minor-league rehab start, James Paxton shined on the mound for Worcester. The veteran lefty scattered just two hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings in which he walked one and struck out eight. Of the 90 pitches he threw, 65 went for strikes. In relief of Paxton, Cam Booser, Joe Jacques, and Chase Shugart preserved the shutout bid by combining for 3 2/3 scoreless frames. 

Daniel Palka paced the Worcester lineup by going 3 for 3 with three-run scoring singles out of the six-hole. Ahead of him, fellow minor-league signees Jorge Alfaro and Greg Allen each had two hits and scored two runs. Palka and Allen also stole one base each while Ryan Fitzgerald accounted for his side's lone extra-base hit the form of a second-inning RBI double. 

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Brendan Nail served as somewhat of an opener for Portland by making the first start of his professional career. The 27-year-old left-hander allowed one run on three hits, one walk, and zero strikeouts over three innings of work. Fellow southpaw Brendan Cellucci yielded one run in two innings before Theo Denlinger, Luis Guerrero, and Rio Gomez combined for five scoreless frames. Guerrero was credited with the winning decision. 

Like Daniel Palka in Worcester, Matthew Lugo led the way for Portland offensively. Serving as the Sea Dogs' designated hitter on Sunday, the 21-year-old went 3 for 5 with two doubles, three RBIs, and one run scored. Christian Koss tripled as part of a two-hit day at the plate while Alex Binelas went 1 for 4 with the go-ahead single in the top of the 10th. Corey Rosier also stole his team-leading 10th stolen base of the season. 

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Grant Gambrell struggled in his fourth start of the season for Greenville. The 25-year-old righty surrendered five earned runs on seven hits (two home runs) and two walks to go along with four strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work. The outing raised his ERA on the year to 6.87. In relief of Gambrell, Casey Cobb got tagged for five runs in the sixth and Graham Hoffman got tagged for three runs in the seventh. Robert Kwiatkowski (unearned) and Christopher Troye each gave up one run in their respective innings as well.

Tyler Miller was the only member of Greenville's lineup to register a multi-hit game by going 2 for 4 with an RBI single. Blaze Jordan launched his fourth home run of the season as part of a 1 for 4 day to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. Brainer Bonaci doubled in the fourth inning for his first hit of the year while leadoff man Max Ferguson drew two walks.

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Salem Red Sox, Delmarva Shorebirds (BAL) (PPD)
Due to inclement weather in the Salisbury-area, Sunday's series finale between the Red Sox and Shorebirds was postponed. The contest will be made up when the two teams face each other again in Salem from June 13-18. 

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Player of the Day: With three hits on Sunday, Matthew Lugo ended his April on a solid note. To begin his first full season with Portland, the right-handed hitting infielder has batted .283/.309/.509 with nine doubles, one home run, 13 RBIs, eight runs scored, two stolen bases, one walk, and 12 strikeouts in 13 games (55 plate appearances). A former second-round draft selection out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy (Puerto Rico) in 2019, Lugo is currently ranked as the No. 13 prospect in the organization.

Photo Credit: Matthew Lugo by Kelly O'Connor