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Minor Lines 8/17/23: Mikey Romero Injured; Ceddanne Rafaela Clutch

Only Salem could come up with a W on Thursday, as Noah Song was roughed up and Mikey Romero was carried off with an injury, but Ceddanne Rafaela continues to get the clutch hits.

2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game Photo by Rob Tringali/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders 2, Worcester Red Sox 1

After a convincing win on Wednesday, the Worcester bats cooled off on Thursday against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, squandering another strong outing by Brandon Walter. The RailRiders went ahead 1-0 right away on Andres Chaparro’s 21st home run in the top of the first and WooSox manager Chad Tracy got ejected in the bottom of the inning for arguing that the opposing pitcher was not on the rubber. Outside of another two hits from the scorching Wilyer Abreu (.447, 8 HR, 21 RBI in the last 13 games), the game was quiet until the bottom of the eighth inning. That’s when Ceddanne Rafaela launched his 13th home run in 39 games at Worcester, an oppo shot, to tie the game at 1.

Rafaela is hitting .319 with a 1.040 OPS at Worcester and at this point has to be the favorite for a September 1st callup when the rosters expand to 28. AJ Politi came in to pitch the ninth and allowed a game-winning single to Michael Hermosillo, before Worcester went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Let’s talk about Brandon Walter for a second. The season long line of 1-5 with a 5.26 ERA at Worcester looks like a down season but Walter has been a far better pitcher than that over 13 appearances since June 11th, which includes six appearances in the major leagues. He has a 2.51 ERA at AAA/MLB over that time in 39 innings.

Brandon Walter 6/11-8/17, via Fangraphs

As The Iron Sheik (RIP) would have said, RESPECT THE BRANDON WALTER. The Woo Sox fell to 64-52, and on Friday at 6:45 will send Kyle Barraclaugh to the mound (7-0, 2.57), recently sent down from Boston.

Binghamton Rumble Ponies 5, Portland Sea Dogs 4

The Sea Dogs got off to a 3-1 lead by the fifth inning last night against the Binghamton Rumble Ponies thanks to Nathan Hickey, who provided two RBI singles. Portland also got a very strong outing early from CJ Liu, who struck out seven over five innings, only allowing four baserunners and one run. Liu’s 5.05 ERA this season doesn’t stand out, but with an xFIP of 3.75 and a K/9 of 11.4 (plus a no-hitter, of course), he has certainly shown flashes of excellence but will need to keep the walks in check to avoid the blowup outings.

Unfortunately, the outing by Liu did not lead to a victory as Wyatt Olds didn’t have it in relief. He gave up four hits and four runs in 2/3 of an inning, to fall to 0-5 with a 9.26 ERA at Portland. Nick Yorke and Tyler Esplin, who had a late RBI single to cut the lead to one, joined Hickey in multi-hit performances. The Sea Dogs lost 5-4, falling to 61-50 on the season, and have not yet announced a starter for Friday at 7:05.

Winston-Salem Dash 8, Greenville Drive 5

The Drive did not fare much better than the upper minors folks on Thursday evening, getting down early to the Winston-Salem Dash who held on for a 8-5 win. Noah Song got his second start (third appearance) since being returned to the Red Sox from the Phillies and was hit hard. He allowed eight hits and five runs (four earned) over three innings. DJ Gladney took Song deep early and then hit another bomb in the eighth, his 17th and 18th homers. The Drive pieced together 12 hits in the game, three of which were off the bat of Nick Decker in the 9-hole to improve his average to .215.

The unfortunate news from this game was an injury to Mikey Romero, who needed to be carried off the field after fielding this ground ball.

The Drive fell to 56-55 and will send Angel Bastardo (2-7, 4.62) to the bump at 7:00 on Friday.

Salem Red Sox 4, Delmarva Shorebirds 2

But there is some good news! The Salem Red Sox had the lone victory in the system on Friday, taking down the Delmarva Shorebirds 4-2. Albert Feliz had two hits, including a solo home run (6) in the second inning. My favorite emerging pitcher in the system, Yordanny Monegro, kept his strong season going allowing two runs in four innings, striking out five. Including his three FCL starts, Monegro is 5-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 72 K’s over 50 2/3 innings this year, with a 1.09 WHIP and .194 BA allowed. Nathanael Cruz picked up the win in relief (3-2) and Railin Perez got his second save. Salem improves to 50-58, and sends Cristian Nunez to the hill Friday at 7:05, who threw has thrown four shutout innings for the team since being called up.