Can Couch Go Up To Eleven?
Since the Salem Sox arrived in the Roanoke Valley in 2009, no Salem pitcher has won 11 games. Tonight, Keith Couch tries to go up to 11.
The Red Sox outfield will also be bolstered by the arrival of Keury De La Cruz, a 20-year-old Dominican outfielder who has put up spectacular numbers with Greenville all year long. His .308 average is seventh in the circuit, while he’s tied for second with 19 homers and tied for third with 81 RBI. Nobody had more than De La Cruz’s total of 62 extra-base hits.
While De La Cruz was a likely candidate to be one of Salem’s key cogs in 2013, the fans at LewisGale Field will now get a glimpse of the toolsy outfielder for the final six games of 2012.
Having won four of the last five, the Sox look to keep it rolling tonight at 7:05. Game notes are below…
August 29, 2012 7:05 Frederick Keys (58-75, 31-32) vs. Salem Red Sox (65-66-1, 24-38) Game #133
LewisGale Field Salem, VA Home Game #64
Probable Starters: LHP Trent Howard (3-10, 4.86) vs RHP Keith Couch (10-9, 3.47)
How Different It Could Have Been: Salem only sent 27 men to the plate in a nine inning game last night, yet the Sox still came out on top, defeating Frederick 1-0 in the series opener. Keys pitchers only faced three more than the minimum in eight frames, with three doubles being all the Sox could muster. It was Salem’s first one-run win in nearly three weeks, while the Sox have endured five one-run losses in the last 20 days. The Red Sox have gone just 5-14 in one-run decisions since the Break, compared to Salem’s 8-5 mark in one-run tilts in the first half. In terms of run differential, the Salem Sox are +43 for the entire season, the second-best mark in the league behind Winston’s preposterous +186 margin. Despite that, Salem’s fourth in the league in wins and will be spectators in the postseason.
All It Takes: Salem also won on Tuesday despite mustering just three hits, the first time the Sox have won with three hits or less since May 6, 2011, when the Sox were outhit 8-3 but defeated Myrtle Beach 2-1 at LewisGale Field. Last night was just the seventh time all season that the Sox when the opponent had more hits. For the entire season, only Winston-Salem has more hits than the Sox, who have averaged just under nine hits per game on the year. Winston’s averaging nine and a half hits per game. The league average is eight and a half.
Wednesday Warriors: From the “probably just a coincidence department,” the Salem Sox have gone 17-4 on Wednesdays this season, including wins in 17 of their last 19 Wednesday ballgames. In addition, the Sox have been victorious in their last seven Wednesday home games since losing to Lynchburg 11-9 on April 18. Friday is the only other day of the week that has seen the Sox create an above .500 record.
Consistent Impact: With his league leading 35th double, Michael Almanzar delivered his 133rd hit of the season on Tuesday night. When he picks up his next knock, he will only trail Oscar Tejeda in the category of most hits in a single season for the Salem Sox since 2009. Last year, Kolbrin Vitek finished with 133 hits, a mark that Almanzar could bypass today. In 2010, second-baseman Oscar Tejeda finished the year with 156 hits, the second-most in the league that year. If Almanzar goes exactly 1-for-4 tonight, his second half numbers would match his first half numbers precisely, at 67-for-221 (.303). He has 31 runs in each half, but he has improved his all-around game as the year has progressed. He has nine homers since the Break after belting just three in the first half. In addition, while he struck out 43 times and drew 13 walks in the first half, he has just 31 punchouts while earning 20 free passes since the Break.
Who’s Your Padre?: Former Salem righthander Casey Kelly made his major league debut for San Diego on Monday, tossing six scoreless and earning the win against the Atlanta Braves. Incredibly, Kelly became the 12th member of the 2009 Salem Red Sox squad to play in the major leagues. He joins Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish, Yamaico Navarro, Robert Coello, Che-Hsuan Lin, Kyle Weiland, Anthony Rizzo, Kris Negron, Tim Federowicz, and Stephen Fife.