Independence Day Notes: Salem Sticking Together
July 4, 2012 7:05 Salem Red Sox (44-38-1, 3-10) vs Carolina Mudcats (41-42, 9-4) Game #84
Five County Stadium Zebulon, NC Road Game #46
Probable Starters: RHP Brandon Workman (5-4, 3.06) vs RHP Will Roberts (3-4, 5.30)
Tough Times: Despite the festive nature of the Fourth, the Salem Sox are not necessarily in the mood to celebrate following their fifth straight defeat last night in Myrtle Beach. The Sox are currently entrenched in their longest losing skid of the year, having dropped five in a row by the aggregate score of 47-14. Salem did not lose a game by more than six runs in the entire first half of the season, but the Sox have been beaten by seven or more runs four times in the past nine games. Additionally, Red Sox pitchers only allowed double digit runs on five occasions in the first half, while opponents have racked up ten or more runs four times in the last six games.
Pitching Problems: It is easy to understand why the Red Sox are struggling. In 13 games in the second half, Salem’s team ERA is 7.35 (91 ER/111.1 IP). Extending it back one game further, Sox pitchers have a collective ERA of 7.55 (101 ER/120.1 IP) over the past 14 games. Salem entered the final Sunday of the first half with a team ERA of 3.49; now, it has risen to 4.21. Among starters, only Brandon Workman’s brilliant performance of seven scoreless innings on June 24 in Winston registers as a quality start since the All-Star Break.
Swinging Slumps: Salem hit just .213 as a team in the three-game series against Myrtle Beach, batting just 6-for-32 (.188) with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox registered 20 hits and 13 walks in the three games, but only scored three runs a night. In 13 games since the All-Star Break, the Sox have been held to three runs or fewer eight times. Slugging first-baseman Travis Shaw is batting .213 in the second half, Xander Bogaerts is at .222, and Shannon Wilkerson’s clip is .208.
Power Potential: Despite the 3-10 record, the Red Sox still have drilled 13 home runs in the first 13 games of the half. This comes after connecting on just 42 home runs in the first 70 games of the season. Eight different players have gone deep since the All-Star Break, although its worth noting that five of the home runs occurred in the first three innings of Salem’s 16-14 victory over Potomac last Thursday night at LewisGale Field. Salem pitchers have surrendered 16 home runs since the All-Star Break, also an uptick in round trippers permitted after yielding 46 in the first half.
Barnes’ Battle: He’s still tenth in the minors in strikeouts with a punchout to walk ratio of nearly 6:1. His full season ERA remains 24th best in the minors, while his WHIP is seventh best, even after another bumpy outing on Tuesday night. But as Matt Barnes heads to the Futures Game in Kansas City on Sunday, he remains mired in the worst slump of his brief professional career. In his first 13 starts (five with Greenville and eight with Salem), Barnes had surrendered just eight earned runs in 72.2 innings pitched, an ERA of 0.99, with 95 strikeouts and 12 walks. In has last three starts, however, Barnes has allowed 14 earned runs in just eight and a third innings pitched, an ERA of 15.12, with only six strikeouts and five walks. For the full season, Barnes is 7-2 with a 2.44 in 16 starts, striking out 101 and walking 17 over 81 innings pitched.