Carolina Mudcats' offense stays quiet in loss to Salem Red Sox
SALEM, Va. – The Carolina Mudcats squandered a strong outing from Adam Plutko on their way to a 5-1 defeat against the Salem Red Sox Wednesday night.
After taking an early lead, the Salem bullpen stymied Carolina's hitters and gave their bats a chance to overtake the struggling Mudcats.
Corey Littrell (4-4, 4.27 ERA) earned the victory after allowing one earned run and seven hits in 6.0 innings.
Plutko (1-2, 3.94 ERA) took his second straight loss after allowing only two hits and two earned runs in 5.0 innings of play. The newly acquired Plutko looked sharp for most of the nigh but the Red Sox didn't miss when their chances came.
After falling behind in the third, Salem used the long ball to post two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Aneury Tavarezreached first on a walk and sacrifice bunt from Kevin Heller pushed him into scoring position. Jordan Weems took advantage by blasting a two run shot over the left field wall to grab a 2-1 lead.
Plutko allowed only one other hit on the night, which came off a Mike Miller single in the bottom of the first inning.
Josh Martin relieved Plutko in the sixth and immediately gave up two additional runs. Salem's Jantzen Wittereached second on a double to left before he was scored by a Mario Martinez home run that extended the lead to three runs.
The Red Sox added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. With Elvis Araujo in to replace Josh Martin, Reed Gragnani and Janzen Witte back to back singles to put runners on the corners. Araujo would force Mario Martinez into a double play but Gragnani scored in the process to all but ensure the victory.
Carolina's only run came in the top of the third behind a leadoff double from Luigi Rodriguez. A Yhoxian Medinawalk set up a double steal and an Erik Gonzalez single scored Rodriguez from third. With Yandy Diaz batting, Gonzalez stole second to keep the pressure on the Red Sox.
But Salem starter Littrell would fan both Diaz and Joe Sever to end the inning. The missed opportunity would come back to haunt the Mudcats.
The Carolina bullpen has been a weakness all year and Wednesday night wasn't any different. Martin and Araujo combined to give up three earned runs off of five hits in just 3.0 innings.
The loss was the third straight for the Mudcats and dropped their record to 3-4 in the second half and 32-42 overall.
It was the second straight game that Carolina failed to win after outhitting their opponents.
A 1-7 performance with runners in scoring position continued a negative trend for Scooter Tucker's ball club. Over the past two games the Mudcats have left a total of twenty-four runners on base.
The Mudcats are scheduled to continue their series with the Red Sox on Thursday night in Salem. Carolina's Shawn Morimando (7-2, 3.12 ERA) is set to start and is expected to face Salem's Joe Gunkel (1-0, 5.06 ERA).
Daniel is a communication and broadcast media major at North Carolina State University.