Stockings and Hurry, Err, No… It’s Sox and Dash!
June 24, 2012 5:00 PM Salem Red Sox (41-31-1, 0-3) vs Winston-Salem Dash (45-27-1, 1-2) Game #74
BB&T Ballpark Winston-Salem, NC Road Game #39
Probable Starters: RHP Brandon Workman (4-3, 3.12) vs LHP Blair Walters (0-0, –)
Four Frustrating Setbacks: Saturday’s 8-5 loss to Lynchburg matched a season-long four-game losing streak for the Salem Sox, and each defeat has been agonizing in its own unique way. The slide began last Sunday in the final game of the half, when Salem lost for the first time all season when leading after seven innings. Up 8-3 after seven, the Mudcats scored 10 in the 8th and one in the 9th to prevail 14-8. In game one on Friday, the Red Sox let multiple leads slip away and lost on a walk-off suicide squeeze in the bottom of the 11th. Deflated, Salem got no-hit by Aaron Northcraft in Friday’s nightcap. On Saturday, Red Sox ace Matt Barnes encountered his roughest outing of the season, giving up five runs in three and two-thirds innings. Still, the Sox overcame a 5-1 deficit to tie the game at five, only to see Lynchburg immediately bash a two-run homer to break the tie, and the Hillcats prevailed 8-5. Salem’s only other four-game losing streak occurred in the first week of the season, from April 7 to April 11. Salem hasn’t lost five straight since July of last season, when the Sox dropped seven in a row from July 13 to July 19.
Three Back: After falling just short in the first-half race against Winston-Salem, the Sox began the second half knowing that they would need to finish ahead of Carolina and Myrtle in the second stanza in order to make the playoffs. So far, not so good. While the Sox were swept in Lynchburg, the Mudcats won three straight from the Blue Rocks in Zebulon. Meanwhile, the Pelicans took two out of three from the Keys in their first series of the half in Frederick.
Don’t Slander Xander: Salem’s 19-year-old shortstop mustered just two homers in April and two more in May. In June, however, Xander Bogaerts has launched six round-trippers, including his tenth of the season on Saturday night in Lynchburg. In the month of June, Bogaerts is batting .347 (26-for-75) with six homers and 20 RBI. Since June 1, only Winston’s Trayce Thompson has more homers in the Carolina League, with seven. Red Sox first baseman Travis Shaw also has six bombs this month and 10 since May 26. Bogaerts is leading the league in RBI this month, while Shaw, Thompson, and Winston’s Brady Shoemaker are all tied for second with 19 apiece.
Apparently, He’s Human: Matt Barnes struggled through his shortest outing of the season on Saturday night, surviving just three and two-thirds innings and surrendering five runs on six hits, with three strikeouts and two walks. Nick Ahmed joined Myrtle Beach’s Vinny DiFazio as the only players to take Barnes deep this season, while Barnes saw his Salem ERA “erupt” to 2.17. He entered Saturday’s start leading all of the minors with a 0.99 ERA for the full season, and he’s now third with an ERA of 1.53, trailing Frisco’s Cody Buckel (1.31) and Ricmond’s Chris Heston (1.36). Ridiculously, even after allowing all those baserunners, Barnes still leads the minors with a 0.85 WHIP, and he’s fifth in the minors with 98 strikeouts. In addition, nobody in the top 50 in strikeouts has fewer walks than Barnes, who has 14. Barnes received a no-decision on Saturday night, and in 14 starts this year he is 7-1 with a 1.53 ERA, having allowed 13 earned runs in 76.1 innings, with 98 strikeouts and 14 walks.