Celestino Starts On A Must Win Saturday Night
June 16, 2012 6:05 PM Carolina Mudcats (31-37) vs Salem Red Sox (40-27-1) Game #69
LewisGale Field Salem, VA Home Game #34
Probable Starters: RHP Will Roberts (3-3, 4.81) vs RHP Miguel Celestino (5-2, 2.53)
Season On The Brink: The Salem Sox have won six in a row, seven of the past eight, and 40 games overall in the first half. Despite all this, the Sox could see their first-half title hopes come to an end tonight. Winston-Salem leads Salem by two games with two remaining, and the only chance the Sox have is to win today and tomorrow and hope that the Blue Rocks can also beat the Dash today and tomorrow. Any Sox loss or Dash win would clinch the first-half crown for Winston-Salem. Ironically, Salem has already secured one of the top two records in the Carolina League in the half, but Lynchburg, currently 37-31, secured the mediocre Northern Division where nobody else is above .500.
Stuck in the Mud: Carolina is probably eager for the first half to end. The Mudcats have lost six of their last eight, but that’s nothing compared to Carolina’s 1-8 record against Salem this season. The Red Sox have outscored the Mudcats 48-28 in the nine meetings, in which the pitching staff has compiled a 2.61 ERA with 75 strikeouts and 12 walks in 76 innings. Carolina has at least three wins against every other team in the league. Salem has a .500 or better record against every opponent except Frederick, whom the Sox are 3-6 against.
Starting Success: Most winning streaks are built upon superb starting pitching, and Salem’s current six-gamer certainly fits the bill. In the past six games, the Sox starters have permitted just five earned runs in 35 innings, good for a 1.25 ERA. If you discount the previous game in which Manny Rivera made a spot start and add in Matt Barnes’ seven-inning complete game shutout last Saturday, that the Salem rotation possesses a 1.07 ERA in its last seven games. Miguel Celestino takes the mound on Saturday coming off his finest performance of the season, dealing seven scoreless innings against Wilmington on Monday. Celestino enters this evening with a 2.53 ERA, third best in the league. Perhaps more impressively, Celestino carries a streak of 16 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run into tonight’s start. Over his past five starts, he is 3-1 with a 1.16 ERA (4 ER/31 IP).
Minor League Baseball’s Best: Even though Jackie Bradley, Jr. has gone a season-high four straight games without a hit, the phenom center fielder still leads all of the minors with a .485 OBP. Bradley has drawn four walks and been hit by two pitches to still reach base six times without a hit in the past four contests. Meanwhile, Matt Barnes continues to lead all of the minor leagues with a 0.99 ERA for the season. Barnes also is top of the minors with a 0.78 WHIP. With nine strikeouts in his last start, Barnes is back in the top three in minor league punchouts with 95 on the season.
Iron Men: In making the playoff push, certain Sox have gone all in with little rest. Jackie Bradley, Jr. has played in every Salem game since May 19, a span of 30 consecutive games. Travis Shaw has played 24 in a row since May 26, and Xander Bogaerts has been in the lineup in 19 straight games since May 31.