Nothing Like A Good June Pennant Race
Salem needs some help, but it is possible that champagne corks will be popped on Sunday.
One of the unique aspects of minor league baseball is the fact that playoff berths can be decided at midseason. With three games to go, the Sox are two back of the first-place Winston-Salem Dash.
If Salem can take care of business against Carolina and Wilmington helps out the Sox by beating Winston at least two more times, we may have a great celebration at LewisGale Field on Sunday!
Today’s game notes are below!
Talk to you soon,
June 15, 2012 7:05 PM Carolina Mudcats (31-36) vs Salem Red Sox (39-27-1) Game #68
LewisGale Field Salem, VA Home Game #33
Probable Starters: LHP Mike Rayl (4-6, 3.98) vs RHP Brandon Workman (3-3, 3.31)
So Far So Good: The Salem Sox returned home for the final four games of the half needing a bunch of wins and a bunch of help. One day into the first-half defining four-day stretch, all has gone Salem’s way. Four-three was the victorious score for Salem over Carolina and the setback score for Winston-Salem against Wilmington, bringing the Sox within two games of the first-place Dash. Winston still owns a magic number of two and could clinch as soon as tonight if the Dash wins and the Sox lose. If the two teams finish the half with the same record, the tiebreaker belongs to Salem on the back of the Sox’ 5-4-1 record against the Dash in the first half. Salem has not won a first-half title in the Carolina League since 1988.
Mudcat Mincemeat: Regardless of how Winston fares in Wilmington, the most important thing for the Red Sox is to take care of their own business at LewisGale Field. Thus far in 2012, beating the Mudcats has been a habit. Salem has taken seven of eight against the Carolina League’s newest franchise, outscoring the Mudcats 38-24 in eight games. Five of Salem’s seven wins against Carolina have come by three runs or less. The Sox swept the Mudcats at LewisGale Field on April 27-29 and took three of four in Zebulon from May 15-17.
Vazquez Voodoo: Run on Salem’s catcher at your own risk! Christian Vazquez is #1 the Carolina League in throwing out base-stealers, gunning down more than 40% on the season. Offensively, the backstop has hits in four of his last five games, a stretch in which he’s batting .357 (5-for-14) with two doubles, a homer, five RBI and four walks.
The Arms Race: Salem’s early season struggles primarily were located on the mound, with the Sox finishing April with a team ERA of 4.90, second worst in the league. In those 22 games, the Sox surrendered 105 earned runs in 193 innings. Since then, the Sox have permitted just 110 earned runs in the past 370 innings, an ERA of 2.68 in the past 44 games. Entering Friday evening, two of the eight nine pitchers in the Carolina League ERA list are Salem starters: Miguel Celestino (3rd, 2.53) and Keith Couch (8th, 3.32). In addition, Matt Barnes leads all of minor league baseball in ERA with an 0.99 in 13 starts, but with only eight starts for Salem, he has not yet accumulated enough innings in the Carolina League to qualify for the leaderboard. Tonight’s starter, Brandon Workman, is two innings shy of having enough innings to be on the Carolina League leaderboard as well. His 3.31 ERA would be eighth-best in the league if he had enough innings to qualify.
Best of the Best: Four Red Sox are heading to the California-Carolina League All-Star Game in Winston-Salem next week. Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, Jr., and Travis Shaw are all starters for the Carolina League squad, while Mike Olmsted, who leads the league with 12 saves, will anchor the club’s bullpen. This will be the 16th All-Star Game pitting the Advanced-A leagues from the respective coasts. California leads Carolina 8-7, having won the past three years. The Carolina League is seeking its first win since 2008.