IT ALL CLICKS: Getting a strong pitching performance from the rotation’s newest addition and at least one hit from seven players, the Salem Red Sox won their third straight, beating the Carolina Mudcats 7-2 Friday in front of 3,655 at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
WELCOME TO SALEM: Right-hander Brandon Workman, making his first start in this ballpark, tossed six scoreless innings for Salem. Drafted in the second round out of the University of Texas in 2010, he allowed three hits and no walks while fanning four.
“My first outing I couldn’t throw anything offspeed,” said Workman, who gave up four runs last week in his Carolina League debut at Potomac. “I was getting ahead of hitters, but my offspeed wasn’t consistent, so I couldn’t go to that to finish hitters. Being able to do that today made the difference.”
THE LITTLE THINGS: Sox third baseman Michael Almanzar went 2-for-4 to raise his average to .296. One of his hits was a routine pop up that dropped into short right field when Carolina’s second baseman couldn’t locate it.
Almanzar reached second because he had sprinted out of the box – something the Sox haven’t always seen out of a guy signed for a $1.5 million bonus as a 16-year-old in 2007.
“I don’t want to say that it’s time for him to produce, but he needs to have a sense of urgency,” manager Billy McMillon said. “I don’t know what it was about tonight, but he ran down the line hard. He had a little bit more oomph on his throws. That’s I think what so many people love about his potential, that you see that from time to time.
“If he can do that more consistently, I think he’s got a chance to shake some of the labels that he might have acquired over the years and become a ballplayer.”
OUT OF THE COLD: The crowd was Salem’s largest since opening night. Low temperatures and rainy forecasts had helped hold attendance under 2,000 in each of the past six home games.
LOOSE ENDS: Catcher Christian Vazquez hit his first home run, a booming two-run shot in the seventh to make it 7-0. He also drew two walks…Rightfielder Shannon Wilkerson legged out a pair of infield hits to raise his average to .361.
UP NEXT: Salem sends RHP Ryan Pressly (0-0, 10.90) to the hill against Carolina LHP Mike Rayl (2-2, 2.78) at 6:05 tonight.
SKIPPER BILLY MCMILLION
“He was very consistent last year and in my opinion pitched much better than his numbers indicated last year. He pitched a week ago today. I think he was a little amped up his first start at this level. I think he had one or two bad innings. He did OK. This is a really good outing for him. He got ahead, mixed up the pitches well. This is what I think he’s capable of on a routine type of basis. Obviously I’m not predicting six innings with no runs, but just the way he went about his business, the professionalism. That I think he can do regularly.”
ON WHETHER THE SOX WILL LET HIM GO DEEPER IN GAMES THIS YEAR THAN THEY DID LAST YEAR, WHEN HE WAS OFTEN ON A TIGHT PITCH COUNT:
“I think at the lower levels, all of our pitchers are pretty much on a pitch count. I think the higher you get up, the looser the restrictions are gonna be. It looked like he was strong enough to go out there for a seventh, but it’s way too early on for guys to be going that far. He gave us six strong innings.”
“I think he’s a guy that – I don’t want to say that it’s time for him to produce, but he needs to have a sense of urgency. I don’t know what it was about tonight, but he ran down the line hard. He had a little bit more oomph on his throws. That’s I think what so many people love about his potential, that you see that from time to time. If he can do that more consistently, I think he’s got a chance to shake some of the labels that he might have acquired over the years and become a ballplayer.”
ON VAZQUEZ HAVING SOME POWER:
“He can get some backspin on balls and drive balls. The concern is that he doesn’t turn into a guy who thinks he’s going to hit a lot of home runs. If he stays with his approach, middle of the field, kind of letting balls get deep, every now and again that approach is going to allow him to drive balls like he did tonight.”
RHP BRANDON WORKMAN
ON WHAT WAS WORKING:
“I threw my offspeed pretty well tonight. I got ahead of hitters and my offspeed was good.”
ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THIS OUTING AND HIS SHAKIER ONE LAST WEEK VS. POTOMAC:
“My first outing I couldn’t throw anything offspeed. I was getting ahead of hitters, but my offspeed wasn’t inconsistent, so I couldn’t go to that to finish hitters. Being able to do that today made the difference.”
ON WHETHER HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN TOO AMPED UP FOR DEBUT AT THIS LEVEL:
“Yeah, first one of the year last time. I was excited to be out there and maybe brought a little too much effort to the table.”
ON WHETHER, AS MCMILLON SAYS, HE PITCHED BETTER THAN HIS NUMBERS LAST YEAR AT GREENVILLE:
“I don’t know about that. I definitely finished the year a lot better than I started last year. I kind of had a slow start, and in the second half of the season I started to throw the ball well.”
ON A TEXAN ADJUSTING TO A SECOND STRAIGHT SUMMER ON THE EAST COAST:
“It’s all right. (smiles) The weather here’s been killing me, though. It’s been cold and rainy every day. But it’s pretty cool.”
ON VAZQUEZ AS A RECEIVER:
“It’s great. Absolutely love throwing to him. He’s really good at what he does back there.”
CATCHER CHRISTIAN VAZQUEZ
ON GETTING HIS FIRST HOMER:
“I feel good, man. Two outs, I need to swing hard, get that fastball early in the count.”
ON SOX PITCHERS SAYING THEY LOVE THROWING TO HIM:
“The communication is important – that the pitcher and catcher get on the same page on the mound. That’s really the reason.”