Evidence that Airline Pilots Love the Salem Sox

The Salem Sox played 18 innings last night. No, it wasn’t two individual games.

For the second time this season, the Sox dropped a game of at least 16 innings by a score of 3-2. Salem could not score in its final 17 innings in Wilmington on Tuesday night. A tough one to lose, for sure.

Wish I was there to see it. I was in transit back to the Roanoke Valley following a long family wedding weekend in the northeast, and while I missed the first nine innings, I was able to catch most of the second half of Geoff’s Arnold’s memorable call.

This shouldn’t have been the case.

The scheduled layover at the Charlotte airport was supposed to last only 60 minutes or so. We boarded the plane to Roanoke around 10:15 PM, perhaps around the 12th inning. Waiting for our turn to taxi toward the runway, I listened on my iPhone as long as I could until the whole “Please disable all electronic devices” announcement came about. (As a side note, can I really flummox an airplane with my iPod? I doubt it. Someone needs to explain this 21st century tomfoolery or fix it.)

Well, a mechanical issue prevented us from taking off, and I returned to the broadcast around the 14th inning. The plane was returning back to the gate, presumably to check on the technical issues that prevented us from departing. That, or perhaps the pilots just wanted to listen to the end of the Salem-Wilmington game before getting airborn.

We all got off the plane for about an hour, then boarded again, right around the time Vladimir Frias moved from third base to the pitcher’s mound. He dealt a perfect 17th, but surrendered the game-ending tally in the 18th, with the winning run scoring just moments before we pushed back from the gate again. It seemed like the pilots were now ready to leave, considering the longest Carolina League game of 2013 had ended.

Alas, my travel tale is nothing compared to the uncomfortable overnight ride that Salem’s finest endured en route to Winston-Salem, where the tired Sox will try to summon sufficient energy for their 7 PM first pitch this evening.

Your daily dose of game notes are below, and I look forward to returning to the airwaves at 7 PM on ESPN Radio in VA, AM 1240 WGMN Roanoke and online right here.

Always fun to be back in Winston,


August 14, 2013 7:00 PM Salem Red Sox (59-61, 26-24) v Winston-Salem Dash (60-60, 22-28) Game #121

BB&T Ballpark                       Winston-Salem, NC                    Road Game #62

Probable Starters: RHP Mike Augliera (8-6, 4.16) vs RHP Mike Recchia (0-0, 7.20)

Battle Fatigue: The Salem Sox will be tested tonight, following a through-the-night journey after a four hour, 41 minute, 18 inning setback on Tuesday night in Wilmington. With just 20 games remaining in the regular season, every decision is vitally important as Salem contends for the final playoff spot in the Southern Division. As a result of Carolina’s second straight loss, the Sox remained just a game and a half behind the Mudcats. Seven of Salem’s last 20 games will be against Carolina, beginning with a four-game series at LewisGale Field on Saturday night. First, the Sox tangle with the Dash for three in Winston-Salem. The Chicago White Sox affiliate is coming off being swept in a series for just the second time in its last 94 series. The Dash have dropped eight of their last 10, including two out of three against Salem from last Thursday-Saturday.

The Longest Game in Salem Red Sox History: Lasting two innings and 26 minutes longer than Salem’s 16-inning setback on Friday, July 26, Tuesday’s double-niner has become the longest contest for the Sox since the affiliation with the Red Sox began in 2009. Salem batters struck out 21 times in 18 innings, with Keury De La Cruz enduring a titanium sombrero with six strikeouts in eight at-bats. The professional record for Ks in a game is seven, suffered by Russ Laribee of the PawSox in the legendary 33-inning game in 1981. After Salem scored two in the first on Stefan Welch’s two-run blast, the Sox failed to score in the next 17 innings. Amazingly, Salem went the entire game without obtaining a hit with runners in scoring position.  Salem went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position; Winston went 2-for-14.

Place Your Betts: The defending Carolina League Player of the Week went 2-for-7 in Tuesday’s marathon, giving him a  .375 (15-for-40) clip with seven walks and 12 RBI in his last 11 games. Mookie Betts drove in a career high five-runs on Sunday, and he’s a perfect 14-for-14 in stolen base attempts since being promoted from Greenville. He has not been caught since a July 6 game in the South Atlantic League. Between the two levels, he has 31 steals in 33 tries on the season. Since Mike Augliera received the Pitcher of the Week award on July 8, a Salem player has been named either Player of Pitcher of the Week in six straight weeks. Augliera received the Pitcher’s honor three times, while Henry Owens earned it once. Stefan Welch was also named Player of the Week in July.

Wanna Be Like Mike: Poised to make his team-leading 23rd start of the season tonight, Mike Augliera is trying to become the first nine-game winner on the Salem staff this season. Over his last three outings, Augliera has gone 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA, permitting just four runs on 11 hits in 20 innings. This will be his fourth start against the Dash.

Quality Wasted: Mickey Pena, who starts tomorrow, could be 6-0 in his last six starts, but the Sox had only scored 13 runs of support for him in his last half a dozen outings. Consequently, Pena suffered another loss on Saturday night, despite permitting just one run over six innings. The lefty has a 2.08 ERA in his last six starts, permitting nine runs on 29 hits in 39 innings and holding foes to a .218 average.

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