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September 3, 2023 at 7:00 AM

Cup of Coffee: Gonzalez dominates in Portland win

9/3 Cup of Coffee
: The Saturday slate saw Boston's two top pitching prospects take the mound, with Wikelman Gonzalez (pictured) drawing the assignment in Portland and Luis Perales on the bump for Greenville. Gonzalez was outstanding, not allowing a hit until the sixth inning as the Sea Dogs picked up the only affiliate win. Perales was solid after a shaky start but took the loss for the Drive. The WooSox saw their playoff hopes continue to dim with a loss, while Salem couldn't convert on several run-scoring opportunities. 


The WooSox staged a thrilling three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth to tie things up but ended up falling in the 10th. A Ronaldo Hernandez double plated the first run of the inning, and he came around to score on a bases-loaded walk to knot the contest at four. Christian Koss delivered an RBI single as well. David Hamilton blasted his 16th home run of the season in the fourth. Hamilton was 2 for 4 with a walk on the night. It was something of a Houdini act by Kyle Barraclough to escape with only four runs allowed in six innings. The veteran allowed eight hits, including three homers, walking five against three strikeouts. Opposing batters were 1 for 12 against Barraclough with runners on base, and all three home runs were solo shots. AJ Politi suffered the loss, giving up two runs (including the ghost runner) in the 10th. 

It was the fifth straight loss for Worcester, further depleting its playoff hopes. The WooSox now are in a tie for fifth place in the crowded International League East second-half standings despite being just 2.5 games behind both Durham and Lehigh Valley. 


Wikelman Gonzalez was sterling for Portland, carrying a no-hitter through five innings on his way to the win. Somerset finally reached the 21-year-old righty with a single to lead off the sixth inning, but Alex Erro erased even that small blemish, cutting the runner down as he tried to steal second. Overall, Gonzalez went six shutout innings, allowing just that one hit, striking out five, and walking one. He has a 2.45 ERA in eight starts with the Sea Dogs, and a 3.04 mark since the start of May across two levels. Ryan Zeferjahn gave up one run in two innings of relief, and Luis Guerrero closed things out with a hitless ninth. 

Erro added to his play in the field with a big night at the plate, blasting a solo homer in the fifth inning as part of a 2-for-3 effort. Tyler McDonough was also 2 for 3, driving in a pair of runs and stealing a base. Alex Binelas joined the 2-for-3 squad, working a walk as well. Corey Rosier walked twice, scored twice, and had a steal. 


It was a frustrating night in Greenville, as the lineup failed to score despite generating 11 baserunners, going 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Eddinson Paulino was 2 for 3 with a walk and two doubles. It was his third straight multi-hit game, and he's rebounded from a slow start to hit .300/.389/.511 since June 21. Allan Castro also had a third straight multi-hit effort as he went 2 for 4 with a double. Luis Perales got off to a rough start, surrendering a three-run homer in the first inning, but he settled in after that and worked into the sixth. His overall line showed five runs on seven hits in 5 2/3, as he struck out seven against two walks. 


The frustrations converting with runners in scoring position extended from Greenville to Salem, as the Sox were just 1 for 9 in those situations. Yorberto Mejicano was 3 for 4, driving in one run and scoring two more, contributing a double. Johnfrank Salazar had a pair of RBI to highlight his 2-for-5 evening, and Luis Ravelo doubled as part of his two-hit night. Hayden Mullins got the start, giving up three runs on one hit in two innings, striking out four and walking two. Noah Dean was solid in relief as he gave up just one hit in four scoreless frames. He struck out five but continued to battle his control, walking four, hitting a batter, and throwing just 38 of 71 pitches for strikes. 


Player of the Day: In eight starts since joining Portland, Wikelman Gonzalez has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven of them. Boston's eighth-ranked prospect has posted an impressive 2.45 ERA despite being one of the youngest pitchers on the circuit. Gonzalez has struck out 52 batters in 40 1/3 innings with the Sea Dogs, and his 157 strikeouts to lead the organization are tied for the most by a Red Sox minor leaguer since Mike Shawaryn fanned 169 in 2017, and he's limited opposing batters to a .187/.311/.287 line. 

Photo Credit: Wikelman Gonzalez by Kelly O'Connor