WILMINGTON, DE (Sunday, June 18, 2017) - The Salem Red Sox offense, so potent for most of the first half, fell quiet at the worst possible time down the stretch as the Sox were swept 3-1 and 5-0 in a doubleheader by the Wilmington Blue Rocks at Frawley Stadium in Wilmington.
The Sox (40-29) amassed just six hits in the twinbill, and 13 hits over their last 124 at-bats of the first half for a .105 batting average. The Blue Rocks (39-31) won their sixth straight game to close the first half, and doomed Salem to their first four-game sweep at the hands of an opponent since the Carolina Mudcats did it from July 4-7 of 2016. Salem's losses took them into a tie with Lynchburg for first place in the Northern Division to close the first half, and Lynchburg's 7-6 edge in the head-to-head rankings between the teams gives them the first-half crown.
In Game 1, Salem cracked the scoreboard first in the top of the second against Wilmington starting pitcher Andres Machado (W, 3-6). Jose Sermo battled to earn a one-out walk, and sped to third when Austin Rei banged an opposite-field double off the right field wall. With the infield drawn in, Jeremy Rivera laced a single through the middle, bringing Sermo home to score; Rei was thrown out at home on the play. The single snapped the long scoring drought for the Sox, and they assumed a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Rocks got to Red Sox starter Dedgar Jimenez (L, 8-2) in the bottom of the fourth inning, as DJ Burt drew a leadoff walk before scooting to third on a single to right by Anderson Miller. Chris DeVito singled Burt in, and Wander Franco cracked a two-run double to left, giving Wilmington the 3-1 edge. Richard Lovelady (S, 6) came on in the sixth and fired two shutout innings for the save.
Jimenez surrendered three runs on four hits and a walk while fanning six in six innings of work in the hard-luck loss. It was the first loss for Jimenez since May 2 at Wilmington, and the first complete game of any kind for the Sox in 2017.
In Game 2, Wilmington drew first blood in the bottom of the second, as they got three straight singles to load the bases against Sox starter Matthew Kent (L, 5-3). Jecksson Flores hit a dying quail over the glove of Chad De La Guerra at second, scoring Franco and Kurt Peterson to make it 2-0 in favor of the Blue Rocks.
The Blue Rocks added more scoring in the fourth, as Peterson doubled before advancing to third on a single by Cody Jones. Flores brought home Peterson on a safety squeeze bunt, running the lead to 3-0.
Wilmington got two more runs in the fifth. Burt led off with a double, and scored when Kent dropped the toss from first baseman Josh Ockimey for an error on an infield single by Anderson Miller. With new reliever Gerson Bautista in, a fly out to center advanced Miller to second base, and he came home to score on an RBI single by DeVito to make it a 5-0 game. Salem got only one hit and one walk from Blue Rocks starter Jared Ruxer (W, 4-1), and fared little better against relievers Yunior Marte and Franco Terrero.
Kent got nicked up for five runs on nine hits in four innings, whiffing three. Bautista allowed three hits in two frames, and struck out one.
The Carolina League All-Star Game returns to Salem on Tuesday, June 20 at Haley Toyota Field. As part of a celebration of 50 years of Carolina League baseball in the Roanoke Valley, the Red Sox will host a skills competition on Monday, June 19. The skills competition will take place at historic Kiwanis Field, the original home of Carolina League baseball in Salem. All 2017 Salem Red Sox season ticket holders will have tickets to the skills competition and the All-Star Classic at Haley Toyota Field included in their ticket package.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.