Mudcats get shutout by Salem in series finale
ZEBULON- The Carolina Mudcats (21-15) fell to the Salem Red Sox (20-18) on Thursday night, 2-0, in the final game of a four game series.
Danny Salazar got his first start since April 16th after being activated from the disabled list on Thursday. Salazar was on a strict pitch count and was only scheduled to pitch two innings. Salazar came out in the first and looked sharp as he retired the Red Sox 1-2-3, something Mudcat starters had trouble with in the series, particularly because of center fielder Michael Bradley Jr who had reached base to lead off the game in every game in the series until last night.
Salazar would give up three straight singles in the second but was helped by a caught stealing and a groundball double play to end the inning and the night for Salazar. He looked pretty good for not pitching in over a month.
“That’s great news, not only did he come off the DL but he was efficient with his pitches and his velocity was their as he was throwing 96-98," manager Edwin Rodriguez said.
Michael Goodnight, the original scheduled starter, came in for Salazar in the third inning and also pitched well. He wound up getting the loss pitching six innings and gave up two runs both of which were mistakes he probably could have avoided.
The first run came on a balk with a man on third in the seventh and the second run came on a wild pitch with a man on third in the eighth, and in both instances there were two outs in the inning. That said, overall the pitching for the Mudcats was good keeping one of the most potent offenses in the league to only two runs.
The story of the game for the Mudcats was their inability to get anything going against the Red Sox pitchers especially starter Matt Barnes.
“We faced very good pitching and you have to tip your hat and we will regroup and get back out it tomorrow," said Rodriguez whose team was only able to get one man in scoring position the whole game.
Barnes who came into the game with a 1.50 ERA improved on this as he pitched six shutout innings while striking out five and giving up only two hits.
Rodriguez didn’t keep praise for only his pitchers.
"He was outstanding. He has very easy arm action throwing at 96-98 along with very good command of his secondary pitches. He was very impressive," said Rodriguez.
The first scoring opportunity of the game came in the fourth inning; however, a mistake on the base paths by left fielder Brandon Jacobs cost the Red Sox a run. After a one out double by Travis Shaw down the left field line, Jacobs lined a single to left. Jacobs took a long turn at first and when Rodriguez cutoff the throw back in to the infield from Delvi Cid in left he was able to turn and throw to Aguilar at first to get Jacobs in a run down. Jacobs eventually was tagged out by second baseman Tony Wolters to give the Mudcats two outs in the inning. Bradley Jr flew out to center to end the inning and the threat.
The Mudcats only runner in scoring position came in the sixth inning. A one out walk to Cid, only the second given up by Barnes in his three starts, and then a steal of second gave the Mudcats their first scoring opportunity. However the Mudcats couldn’t take advantage as Holt and Wolters both grounded out to end the inning.
Goodnight got into a first and third with no out jam in the seventh. Shaw led off the inning with a single to left that right fielder Carlos Moncrief misplayed allowing Shaw to move to second. Jacobs then singled moving Shaw to third. With shortstop Xander Bogaerts batting Jacobs was caught stealing on what looked like a delayed steal attempt, and then Bogaerts ended up walking.
With one out and runners still on first and third Goodnight came up with a big strikeout of Vazquez to give him the chance to get out of the jam unscathed. However, on a pickoff attempt to first Goodnight was charged with a balk allowing Shaw to come home to score giving the Red Sox the 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the seventh.
Jeremiah Bayer came in for Barnes in the seventh and fared just as well as Barnes as Bayer pitched two scoreless innings and struck out four.
The Red Sox tacked on another run in the eighth with the help from a wild pitch by Goodnight. DH Carson Blair led off the inning with a single to center. With right fielder Shannon Wilkerson batting Blair took off for second and Wilkerson hit a soft groundball to the vacated shortstop position as Rodriguez had moved over to cover second allowing Wilkerson to reach. Bradley Jr then smoked a ball to deep right that was caught by Moncrief which allowed Blair to tag up at second and move to third.
Again it looked like Goodnight would be able to get out of the inning as second baseman Sean Coyle would pop up to short for the second out, but a wild pitch with Shaw batting allowed Blair to score from third to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead after the top of the eighth.
The Mudcats just couldn’t ever get anything going against the Sox pitching staff. Michael Olmsted came in to close for the Red Sox in the ninth and allowed a hit but erased the runner by inducing a double play.
Shawn Armstrong pitched a scoreless inning for the Mudcats striking out three.
The Mudcats will look to get back on track after dropping three of four to the Red Sox as they hit the road to take on the Potomac Nationals on Friday night at 7:05 at Pfitzner Stadium in Woodbridge, VA.