Butler, Pressly, Close Calls, and the Final Quarter
Thirty-six games remain in 2011, and after tonight’s action we’ll have exactly 25% of the season left.
I’m a big fan of the phrase “luck meets preparation,” but it’s also hard to imagine an unluckier team than the Salem Sox since May 8. As game note #2 reveals below, the Sox are 16-45 in tilts decided by three runs or less since starting the season 20-7 overall.
And while this has made for many excruciatingly frustrating “what-if?” wonderings on post-game bus-rides, it also suggests that this team is very close to going on a pretty good tear. Entering Saturday night’s contest, Salem only trails first-place Winston-Salem by five games in the Southern Division second-half chase. The time for the turnaround, if it’s going to transpire, is now. Down five with 36 left is nothing. Down six and half with 25 left would be a good bit more substantial. Hopefully, Salem can earn their 13th win in 19 meetings with Lynchburg tonight.
And hopefully you can join us for the journey. Kevin Burke and I will have the call from City Stadium at 6:05 tonight on NewsTalk 960 WFIR and on www.salemsox.com.
Talk to you soon,
P.S. Predict how many RBI Dan Butler will have in tonight’s game by leaving a comment, and you could win an extraordinary Salem Red Sox Price Pack Experience Extravaganza!
July 30, 2011 6:05 PM Salem Red Sox(45-58, 14-20) vs Lynchburg Hillcats(42-62, 12-22) Game #104
Lynchburg City Stadium Lynchburg, VA Road Game #53
Probable Starters: LHP Drake Britton (1-10, 7.17) vs RHP David Hale (2-4, 3.75)
Late-Game Drama: Friday night’s 8-7 loss was the fourth straight game that Salem was tied with its foe at some point in the seventh inning, but three of those four tilts have concluded as one-run losses. The opener in Lynchburg unfolded as a carbon copy of the finale in Frederick, with the home team scoring the winning run with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. For the entire 2011 season, Salem is winless in 45 tries when trailing after eight innings.
Ones That Got Away: Believe it or not, on May 8, Salem had a 12-3 record in games decided by three runs or less. At 20-7 overall, the Sox were the best club in the Carolina League, largely thanks to their timely execution and good fortune in these nailbiters. Alas, since that date, the luck has drastically turned. All four of the defeats on the current road trip have come by slim margins. The Red Sox are 28-44 in games decided by three runs or less for the season, meaning that they are 16-45 in these close calls since May 8. Incredibly, despite sitting at 13 games below .500, the Salem Sox have outscored their opponents 442-440 for the season, a product of their 10-4 record in games decided by six runs or more.
Butler’s Brilliance: For Salem Sox backstop Dan Butler, playing Lynchburg has led to unparalleled production in 2011. Currently second in the circuit with 66 RBI, more than 36% percent of his RBI production has come against the Hillcats. With four more driven home on Friday night, Butler now has 24 RBI against Salem’s Route 460 rival, along with four homers and six doubles. Overall, Butler is batting .288 vs. the Hillcats, with a .425 on-base percentage and a .593 slugging percentage. His OBP and slugging numbers against Lynchburg would be tops in the league if they were sustained against everyone.
Monthly Matters: With two more days remaining in July, the Red Sox need 11 runs to match their greatest scoring month of the season. The Sox scored 131 runs in April and currently sit at 120 in July. Salem scored below 100 in both May and June, months in which the Sox won just nine games each. After a 7-3 start to July, the Sox are just 4-12 in the last 16 games.
Pressly The Impressive: Salem starter Ryan Pressly issued walks to the first three batters he faced on Thursday afternoon, then mowed down 14 of the next 15 to complete five scoreless, hitless innings. Remarkably, it was the third time in his career that he had tossed at least four no-hit innings. In his fourth professional appearance with the GCL Red Sox on July 8, 2008, he dealt four hitless frames in relief against the GCL Orioles, earning the victory. He dominated again on May 16, 2010 with the Greenville Drive, striking out eight over five no-hit innings in relief of Kendal Volz against the Lexington Legends, an Astros affiliate. In his four year professional career, he has pitched five or more scoreless innings on eight different occasions, including three times for Salem in 2011. His performance on Thursday trimmed his ERA to 4.28 and gave him seven straight outings that have lasted at least five innings.