ME FIRST: The Salem Red Sox reclaimed first place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division, leapfrogging Winston-Salem with a 3-1 victory over the Dash on Tuesday in front of 1,819 at Salem Memorial Ballpark.
IN IT TO WIN IT: The Sox had a little extra juice in the clubhouse facing the Dash, the league’s top-hitting team. Winston-Salem held a half-game lead over Salem entering the series.
“It definitely matters,” Sox reliever Jeremiah Bayer said. “We’re all really competitive. We’d love to win the first half and make the playoffs and see how far we can go.”
SPEAKING OF FAR…: Bayer has come a long way in a month. The fourth-year pro, who earned the win Tuesday with two innings of perfect relief, has allowed just one earned run over his past seven outings – a span of 13 2/3 innings.
That stretch followed a disastrous appearance at Potomac on April 19, when Bayer allowed eight earned runs in 1 1/3.
“It’s not the first time I’ve had a rough outing,” Bayer said. “It might be the roughest one I’ve had, but it’s not the first time. It was tough right after the game, but I just kind of told myself that I’m better than that.”
He has been. Bayer showed off five pitches – cutter, sinker, curve, slider and change – in fanning the side in the seventh, then got three groundball outs in the eighth.
JUST ENOUGH: The Sox broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh on Felix Sanchez’s groundout that scored Michael Almanzar, who’d doubled to open the frame. Sean Coyle added an RBI triple later in the inning.
ON THE MOVE: RHP Marco Duarte has been promoted to Double-A Portland, while OF Brandon Jacobs was placed on the DL. Sanchez and RHP Ruben Flores were both activated off the DL.
LOOSE ENDS: Mike Olmsted improved to 10-for-10 on save chances with a 1-2-3 ninth…Xander Bogaerts went 2-for-4 with a triple and made a spectacular diving play at short…Starter Miguel Celestino allowed just three hits over six innings…Christian Vazquez went 2-for-4 and singled home the first Sox run in the fourth.
ON DECK: The Sox send RHP Ryan Pressly (3-1, 5.95) to the hill against RHP Ryan Buch (2-4, 5.15) at 11 a.m. today.
-The Jacobs injury is a bummer for him and the Sox. He’d really been starting to hit — five multihit outings (including a trio of three-hit games) in his past eight before going on the DL. I’m pretty sure it’s a hand injury but I’ll have to get confirmation on that.
-Shannon Wilkerson went hitless tonight but stole his 16th base in as many tries.
-Jackie Bradley Jr. walked three times in four plate appearances. His OBP is over .490.
-Almanzar went on contact when he scored the go-ahead run. I figured Dash shortstop Carlos Sanchez might try to come home but he opted instead for the sure out. Almanzar looked like he probably would have scored regardless.
-All three hits Celestino allowed were singles. Great night all around for Sox pitchers, who were facing a team hitting .282 coming into the night.
-Every night the Sox win, they play the same song in the clubhouse. I don’t know what it is — I will ask about it eventually — but it’s some bubble-gum pop song sung by a female that you simply would not expect to hear in there. Let’s just say nobody’s picking it as their walk-up tune. UPDATE: Aha! Just found it online. Here it is: “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. Below is the video: