Salem Creating a Field of Dreams
You can read plenty more about Michael Almanzar’s incredible achievement below, but the top of this post is devoted to Salem pitcher Keith Couch, who tossed his second complete game of the season on Wednesday night. Since 2009, when the Red Sox affiliation began in Salem, there have been only four complete games by pitchers not named Keith Couch.
1) Brock Huntzinger, 7/12/10
2) Mark Holliman, 9/5/10
3) Chris Hernandez, 8/20/11
4) Matt Barnes, 6/9/12
That’s it. And by the way, each of those complete games were either six or seven innings.
Enter Couch, who tossed 70 of his 95 pitches for strikes on Wednesday night. He threw mostly two-seam fastballs, inducing 11 ground-outs, four of which became double plays. He felt best about his slider, which sizzled for a strike 19 times in 22 deliveries. Perhaps most impressive was his efficiency. Batters knew he would throw strikes, which enabled him to work deep into the game. In fact, 24 of the 34 batters he faced needed three pitches or fewer.
Interestingly, Couch said he threw five nine-inning complete games in college. Pitching at Adelphi University, a Division II program on Long Island, Couch recalled throwing between 120-130 pitches in a game. No chance he’d be able to do that in the Carolina League, but with his economic approach and uncanny strike-throwing ability, he doesn’t need to.
For more on Couch, scroll below and listen tonight… 7:05 first pitch on NewsTalk 960 AM & FM 107.3 WFIR and online at www.salemsox.com…
Timothy Busfield’s character was a doofus,
July 26, 2012 7:05 Myrtle Beach Pelicans (56-47, 20-13) vs. Salem Red Sox (53-49-1, 12-21) Game #104
LewisGale Field Salem, VA Home Game #50
Probable Starters: RHP Randol Rojas (8-2, 2.99) vs RHP Brandon Workman (7-6, 3.40)
Field of Dreams: Although it’s doubtful that Michael Almanzar will ever be known as “The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived,” Salem’s third baseman belonged in the same sentence as Ted Williams on Wednesday night. With a fifth inning single on an 0-2 pitch, Almanzar reached base for the 16th consecutive plate appearance, matching Williams’ modern day major league record. Williams reached in 16 straight in 1957, while Almanzar used 12 hits, three walks, and one hit-by-pitch to match him 55 years later. Currently riding a 10-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .553 (21-for-38), he owns the best average in the minors since July 16, when the streak began. In his last ten games, Almanzar has eight extra-base hits, including four homers, and 11 RBI. He’s walked seven times and has only struck out three times since July 16 and is now batting .316 on the season, the #1 average among active players in the Carolina League.
Go The Distance: The Red Sox were relaxed with Keith Couch on the mound on Wednesday night, as the righthander tossed his first professional nine-inning complete game in Salem’s 6-1 win over Myrtle Beach. It was the first time all season that a Salem pitcher went nine innings. In fact, it was the first nine-inning complete game for Salem since the Red Sox relationship returned to the Roanoke Valley in 2009. The official stat portal has complete game details since 2006, and no Salem pitcher has tossed a nine-inning CG since then. Couch used 95 pitches to complete his performance, capitalizing on 11 ground-outs and four double plays, a season-high for the Salem defense.
Ease His Pain: During his marvelous June, shortstop Xander Bogaerts enjoyed one stretch of 74 at-bats with eight home runs. But entering Tuesday night, Bogaerts had gone 66 at-bats without a bomb. With round-trippers in the seventh inning on Tuesday and in the third frame on Wednesday (two homers in four at-bats!), Bogaerts now owns 14 dingers on the season. It’s the second time this season that Bogaerts has gone yard in back-to-back games, a feat he also accomplished on June 23 in Lynchburg an June 24 in Winston-Salem. The 19-year-old Aruba native has not gone deep in three straight games yet in his career.
The Boat Rocker: Infielder Heiker Meneses managed just one hit yesterday, but made his presence felt in many ways. He stole two bases (and was also caught once), recorded an assist on three of Salem’s four double plays, scored Salem’s first run, and drove in a run to help the Red Sox prevail. After going hitless in consecutive games over the weekend, Meneses has four hits, four runs scored, and six RBI in three games against Myrtle beach this week.
If You Build It, He Will Come: In order to build anything, you usually need a work man. Salem sends Brandon Workman to the mound on Thursday with the Sox looking to make it three out of four against Myrtle Beach. He has been a heavy-lifter for Salem, pitching at least six innings in each of his last eight starts. His 3.40 ERA is currently fifth best in the Carolina League, while his .242 batting average against is third in the circuit.