Mickey’s on the Mound

Good morning from Winston-Salem!

There are very few absolutes in the world, but it’s fair to say that usually good pitching leads to success. In Salem’s three wins in the second half, the Sox starters have allowed two runs in 19 innings. In two losses, Sox starters have allowed 11 runs in six and a third.

Mickey Pena dealt five strong frames this past Friday to earn his second win of the year, and the southpaw from Texas will try to replicate that strong performance in today’s noon start in North Carolina. He’ll need to do something really special to come close to matching Tuesday night’s brilliance.

Plain and simple, Henry Owens looked like a future major leaguer last night. He worked deeper into the game than ever before, completing seven scoreless innings with 90 pitches, 60 strikes. It was a treat to watch and broadcast.

Day baseball begins soon from BB&T Ballpark…

Here’s Salem’s lineup:

  1. Natoli 3B
  2. Marrero 3B
  3. De La Cruz LF
  4. Welch 1B
  5. Jacobs RF
  6. Roberson C
  7. Gedman DH
  8. Koback CF
  9. Johns 2B

Today’s fresh batch of game notes are below… Enjoy your Wednesday!

Wishing there was a game seven tonight,
Evan

*****

June 26, 2013 12:00 PM Salem Red Sox (36-39, 3-2) vs. Winston-Salem Dash (41-34, 3-2) Game #76

BB&T Ballpark                       Winston-Salem, NC                    Road Game #40

Probable Starters: LHP Mickey Pena (2-2, 4.84) vs RHP Jake Cose (1-1, 5.56)

A Midweek Matinee: After splitting the first two games in their four-game set, the Sox and Dash square off in a rare noon start on Wednesday at BB&T Ballpark. This will be the 13th meeting of the season between these two Southern Division clubs, with the season series being deadlocked at six wins apiece. The Salem Sox take the field hoping to avoid the continuation of the second half pattern that has seen the team alternate win, loss, win, loss, win through its first five games. With 65 games remaining in the regular season, Salem needs to finish ahead of the Dash and Mudcats in the second-half standings to advance to the postseason for the first time since ‘09.

Oh, Henry! Despite the fact that he’s still three and a half weeks shy of his 21st birthday, Salem southpaw Henry Owens might be making a push for a promotion to Double-A. His Tuesday night start in Winston-Salem may have been his best performance out of the season, and it perpetuated a month of June that has seen Owens achieve at an unreal level over his last four starts. Across the landscape of full season minor league baseball, Owens is one of 13 pitchers with sub-1.00 ERAs this month. He has permitted just two runs on 13 hits over 21.1 innings in four outings this month,  giving him an infinitesimal ERA of 0.84. He has earned the win in three of his four June starts, with each of those being shutout victories. On Tuesday night, he improved to 3-0 against the Dash in 2013 while completing seven innings for the first time in his career.

Reaching Base Blackjack: While Keury De La Cruz saw his 19-game hit streak end on Monday, he drew a walk in the series opener in Winston and went 1-for-5 on Tuesday to give him 21 straight games reaching base at least once. Since June 3, De La Cruz is batting .395 (32-for-81) with 20 RBI in 21 games. He currently owns the longest active reaching base streak in the league, four games away from matching the best on-base streaks of the season. His 19-game hitting streak is the longest of any Carolina League player this year, four games superior to Lynchburg’s Elmer Reyes.

Excellent Glovework:  The Red Sox played error-free ball on Tuesday night, and unsurprisingly, the flawless defense produced a positive result. In the 28 games in which Salem has not made an error, the Red Sox have gone 21-7. But when the Sox make a defensive mistake, they are 15-32. Deven Marrero has made just one error in 47 games at shortstop this season.  Blake Swihart is the #1 catcher in throwing out baserunners, having gunned down 40.7% (24-of-59) in a league-high 54 games behind the plate.

Pitching Party: Baseball can be complicated, but here’s a simple truth: good starting pitching makes winning a much more likely result. In Salem’s three victories since the All-Star Break, the Sox starters (Mickey Pena, William Cuevas, and Henry Owens) have allowed two runs on nine hits in 19 innings. In the pair of losses, the starters (Kyle Stroup and Mike Augliera) have surrendered 11 earned runs on 11 hits in 6.1 innings. Wednesday will begin Salem’s second trip through the rotation after the All-Star Break, as Pena faces the Dash for the first time.

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