Closing Games Haunts Mudcats in Losing Streak
Four-run seventh gives Salem sweep of Carolina
ZEBULON, N.C.- On a beautiful night at Five County Stadium, Carolina Mudcats pitcher Jacob Lee challenged the Red Sox batters through the sixth inning, though Salem caught up with him in the seventh inning. After a great start, both offensively and defensively, the momentum slowed and the Mudcats inability to consistently close games haunted them yet again as Salem took the late lead and the 5-4 victory.
“We’re doing a lot of good things out there," manager David Wallace said. "But we’ve just got to learn how to finish. The starters have got to learn how to finish outings, the hitters have to learn how to finish innings and the defense especially has got to finish and we’re not doing it.”
An opening walk was issued to Mudcats center fielder Tyler Naquin and Indians top prospect shortstop Francisco Lindor drove an off-speed pitch down the right field line that scored Naquin and pushed the score early to 1-0 in favor of the Mudcats. After his double, Lindor made his way to third after a single into right by Jordan Smith and scored after a sacrifice fly by the left fielder Luigi Rodriguez to make the score 2-0.
In the top of the second inning, the Salem Red Sox first baseman David Renfroe tripled off of the right field wall and scored during the next at bat after a groundout by Blake Swihart. At the end of the first inning, the Mudcats lead 2-1.
The Mudcats struck again in the bottom of fifth when third baseman Yhoxian Medina got on base after being hit by a pitch and then scored on a Lindor sacrifice flyout to deep left field. At the time, the Mudcats led 3-1.
After two more strikeouts by Mudcats right-hander Jacob Lee in the top of the six, the Mudcats pushed ahead again in the bottom of the sixth to make the score 4-1. Second baseman Joe Sever put himself in scoring position after a double to left field. He scored on a throwing error during the next at bat.
In the top of the seventh inning, Carolina’s defense was picked apart by the Red Sox offense. On a controversial call, the first batter for Salem, right fielder Keury De La Cruz, hit a long ball down the right field line that appeared to be foul but was ruled a ground rule double. He advanced on a single by left fielder Brandon Jacobs and scored during the next at bat on a sacrifice fly by Renfroe. Jacobs stole second and advanced to third after a single by Swihart. He scored after a single into center field by Salem center fielder Henry Ramos.
After a great start, Lee was replaced by left-handed pitcher J.D. Reichenbach midway through the inning. Lee finished the game after 6.1 innings with five hits, four runs, five strikeouts and no walks. Designated hitter Matt Gedman doubled into left field and two runs scored after the ball was bobbled by Rodriguez, finishing the scoring at 5-4.
The Carolina Mudcats return to action Thursday night as they try to prevent the three-game sweep by the Salem Red Sox. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. at Five County Stadium.