One Day Later, Marveling at Magnificence

The Salem Sox have a quick turnaround from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning, but if ever the adrenaline of the previous night might carry over, you’d think it would be today.

In chatting briefly with Pitching Coach Kevin Walker, he remarked, “I started thinking about it really early.”

I agreed. Henry Owens’ stuff was special. You sensed it in the first inning when he induced a soft ground ball on his first pitch, then struck out the next two hitters in dominating fashion. In the second, he struck out two more and created another easy grounder. He punched out two batters apiece in the first four innings, then added his ninth and tenth Ks in the fifth and sixth.

I suggested to Walker that Owens certainly had his best curveball of the season. He wholeheartedly agreed.

Owens’ control issues of late have primarily centered around his lack of fastball command, and the curveball has been spotty at times throughout the season. The changeup has probably been his most consistent weapon, but the offspeed’s threat level is always correlated with the nastiness of the heater. With a sizzling fastball, deceptive change, and a curve that could be called cruel and unusual, Owens did indeed have no-hit stuff. He got lucky by avoiding dinkers and dunkers, and he was aided by a batters’ interference on a strikeout with a runner going. The umpire called the runner out at second to end the fifth inning.

There weren’t any defensive gems that demanded a second look; none were required. The top play may have been third baseman Stefan Welch’s tough pick on a grounder with a tricky hop while moving to his left in the last of the seventh when Matty Ott was on the mound. The game ended with an easy bouncer to Mookie Betts at second, and Matt Price had finished the job.

Owens (six innings), Ott (two), and Price (one) delivered the first no-hitter in Salem Red Sox history!

On the slowest sports day on the calendar, the Salem Red Sox created a memory that will be talked about for years. The players and coaches all were grateful to be a part of it. So was the broadcaster.

What a cool night!

*****

Game notes for Thursday’s noon start are below, with more no-no nuggets and a look at the recent dominance from Matty Ott and Matt Price. Also, Henry homered. Twice! (No, not Owens.)

Broadcast begins at noon… Here’s your listen live link

Talk to you soon,
Evan

*****

July 18, 2013 12:00 PM Salem Red Sox (48-48, 15-11) vs. Frederick Keys (44-50, 10-15) Game #97

Harry Grove Stadium                          Frederick, MD                   Road Game #50

Probable Starters: LHP Mickey Pena (4-4, 5.57) vs RHP Zach Davies (5-3, 3.35)

The Big O’s No-No: Henry Owens dazzled in six hitless innings, Matty Ott set down all six men he faced, and Matt Price finished the job by completing the first no-hitter in Salem Red Sox history on Wednesday night in Frederick. Owens threw 89 pitches (51 strikes), Ott tossed 26 (16 strikes), and Price dealt 28 (14 strikes), while Henry Ramos belted two home runs to carry the Sox to their sixth shutout victory of the season. The Salem Sox have now won seven of their last nine games and look to surge above the .500 mark for the first time since May 7, when the Red Sox were 15-14. Mickey Pena gets the ball in Thursday’s noon start, looking to add to Salem’s streak of 10 straight hitless innings. On May 8, 2012, Pena tossed the first six innings of the first no-hitter in Greenville Drive history, a 1-0 triumph over Rome.

No-No Nuggets: In nine innings on Wednesday, Frederick hit the ball out of the infield just three times, Sammie Starr’s lineout to left in the fifth, Michael Ohlman’s fly ball to center in the sixth, and Johnny Ruettiger’s fly out to left in the eighth. Owens matched a career high with 10 strikeouts, equaling his performance against Winston-Salem on May 4. It was the first nine-inning no-no in the Carolina League since Nathan Moreau no-hit the Salem Sox in his Keys debut at LewisGale Field on June 30, 2010.

Oh Henry!: Henry Owens stole headlines, but Henry Ramos deserves mention too. Salem’s center fielder registered the first multi-homer game of his career on Wednesday night, jacking his 10th and 11th home runs of the season. After hitting just 16 homers in 257 games over four seasons, Ramos has 11 dingers in 89 games in 2013 for the Salem Sox.  Ramos enters Thursday’s action riding three straight multi-hit games, having gone 6-for-12 in his last three tilts. After hitting .326 in June, Ramos is batting .328 in 15 games so far in July. These recent months are a far cry from his difficult start to the season, when he hit .210 and .242 in April and May, respectively.  

Magnificent Matty: Five days after dominating in his Double-A debut, Matty Ott returned to Salem and delivered a big-league performance out of the Sox bullpen on Wednesday night. Needing just 26 pitches, Ott set down all six Keys he faced in relief of Henry Owens. Over his last three outings, two with Salem and one with Portland, Ott has pitched eight scoreless innings, in which he’s allowed only one hit! In these eight frames, Ott has six strikeouts and one walk. Since June 5, Ott has gone 1-0 with a 1.55 ERA, allowing 16 hits in 29 IP.

Price’s Potential:  Righthanded reliever Matt Price has now held the opponent scoreless in nine consecutive appearances and dealt shutout ball in 15 of his last 16 outings following his hitless ninth inning on Wednesday. Since May 31, Price has permitted just one run in 17.2 innings pitched, an ERA of  0.51. While his full-season numbers are mighty impressive (4-0, 2.79, .172 average against), he really has been even more dominant with the exception of one very bumpy outing. On April 30, he allowed five runs on four hits and two walks in an inning and a third. If you omit that outing from his slate, Price is 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA,  40 strikeouts, and 12 walks in 37.1 innings.

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