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May 14, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Rafaela swipes six bags; Jordan drives in three


5/14 Cup of Coffee: 
Ceddanne Rafaela's (pictured) six steals provided some early fireworks, while Grant Gambrell and Blaze Jordan led Greenville to a close win later in the day. Ryan Fitzgerald went deep for Worcester, while Roman Anthony was solid in a sloppy game for Salem. 
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A comeback effort fell just short for Worcester on Saturday. The WooSox were down five runs entering the fifth but tied it in the sixth. A two-run double from Nick Sogard and a three-run home run from Ryan Fitzgerald accounted for all five sixth-inning runs. Edwin Díaz added a solo home run. Norwith Gudiño put the WooSox in an early hole, allowing three runs in the second and five runs overall in 4 1/3 innings. Taylor Broadway allowed just a solo home run over 1 2/3 innings, and Oddanier Mosqueda allowed one run over two innings. 

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Six steals from Ceddanne Rafaela could not make up for some poor Portland defense in a loss to Somerset. Rafaela went 2 for 3 with two walks and two runs scored. He stole second base four times and third base two times and in fact was originally credited with seven swipes before one was changed to a defensive indifference call. Niko Kavadas walked thrice, and Chase Meidroth went 1 for 3 with two walks. It's just a four-game sample, but Meidroth has a .550 on-base percentage in Portland. An error from Matthew Lugo started a four-run rally for the Patriots, as Brendan Nail got charged with four unearned runs. Skylar Arias held Somerset scoreless over the final three innings, striking out two without allowing a hit. 

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A great start from Grant Gambrell led the way for Greenville. Gambrell improved to 2-2 with seven strong innings. He allowed three runs and struck out seven without walking a batter in the longest outing of his career. Alex Hoppe allowed a run in the eighth before Robert Kwiatkowski slammed the door in the ninth. 

With Marcelo Mayer still sidelined, Eddinson Paulino has taken over shortstop duties and went 1 for 3 with a triple and a walk. Miguel Ugueto hit his first home run of the year, and Blaze Jordan went 1 for 3 with a double, walk, and three RBI. The three RBI brings him into a tie with Mayer for the most on the team. 

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While Rafaela's six steals were a highlight, Salem's seven errors were blemishes. Enderso Lira went 1 for 3 with a walk but committed four errors behind the dish. Two were throwing errors, and two were catcher interference. Roman Anthony went 1 for 2 with three walks and a steal, and Juan Chacon went 4 for 4 with a double. Karson Simas filled up the box score in exciting ways, going 2 for 3 with a triple and two steals but also two errors. 

After a two-week break, Luis Perales was back on the mound. He walked three and struck out three over 2 2/3. Nathanael Cruz allowed just an unearned run over 1 1/3 innings, and Felix Cepeda got a tough-luck blown save after allowing three unearned runs in the ninth. 

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Player of the Day: It has been a rocky start to the season for Ceddanne Rafaela, but performances like Saturday's will excite fans and pique their interest. Rafalea reached base four times and stole six bases. He is still sporting an OPS of just .622 and entered the game with only four walks. It's been a disappointing start after he had an OPS of .824 in 71 games with Portland in 2022. The two walks on Saturday are a step in the right direction, as improving his plate discipline will be crucial to him as he advances closer to the majors. 

Photo Credit: Ceddanne Rafaela by Kelly O'Connor