by Mike Potter
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Back again with the Carolina Mudcats, who are desperately needing to mix in a win.
The Carolina League’s last-place team will take a five-game overall losing streak and eight-game overall losing streak into tonight’s contest with the Salem Red Sox.
Salem, incidentally, has been in the CL since 1955 and is the league’s most-renamed team. The franchise has been the Avalanche, Buccaneers and Redbirds during my time covering the league and the Pirates and Rebels before that.
Salem’s pitching coach is Nelson Paulino, whose local claim to fame is that he played for the 1994 Durham Bulls, the last Bulls club to call Durham Athletic Park home.
Jacob Lee (0-3, 5.91) will take on the Sox’ William Cuevas (1-4, 6.66).
This loss is painful, as the Red Sox rally for four runs in the seventh against a tired Lee and escape with a 5-4 win to clinch the series.
The Mudcats take a 2-0 lead in the first. Tyler Naquin draws a leadoff walk, followed by Francisco Lindor’s RBI double to right. Luigi Rodriguez then brings Lindor home with a one-out, bases-loaded sac fly to left.
Salem halves the lead in the second. David Renfroe hits a one-out triple to the right-field corner, scoring on Blake Swihart’s grounder to second.
The Mudcats make it 3-1 in the fifth. Yhoxian Medina was hit bit a pitch and advanced on a wild pitch. After Naquin singles to left, Lindor scores the run with a sac fly to left.
And it goes to 4-1 in the sixth. With one out, Joe Sever doubles to left. Then with two out, he scores when Medina reaches on an error to third baseman Nick Natoli.
Salem takes the lead with a big rally in the seventh. Keury De La Cruz leads off with a double to right, followed by Brandon Jacobs’ single to left and a stolen base. Renfroe hits a sacrifice fly to center, followed by a single from Blake Swihart and an RBI single from Henry Ramos to chase Lee and bring on J.D. Reichenbach. Matthew Gedman doubles to left to score Swihart, while Ramos continues home on the error to left fielder Rodriguez.
Heri Quevedo gets the win in relief, going 4 2/3 and allowing the unearned run on three hits with two strikeouts and no walks.
They said it …
Mudcats manager David Wallace: “We had one tough inning. There were a lot of good things out there, but we’ve got to learn how to finish. The starters have got to learn how to finish outings. Hitters need to learn how to finish innings. And we’re just not doing it.”
Lindor: “It’s tough. We played a great game, but we just got outhit in the last couple of innings. Sometimes that’s just the way the game goes. There’s no jinx. We know what we’re doing wrong. We just need to get key hits and key outs. But the beauty of the game is that we get to come back tomorrow and try to win.”
Naquin: “We’re just not making plays at the right time and not making plays at the right time. It all goes back to the game of baseball. It is what it is. We’ll start getting those hits and producing. We just have to be in the present and stay in the moment and try to execute.”
What does it all mean?
That the Mudcats are just a little more desperate to find some momentum.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Gedman’s double in the seventh.
Mudcats: Lost 6.
Salem: Won 2.
Salem leads 3-2.
Mudcats (TBA) vs. Salem (Henry Owens 3-1, 3.57), Thursday, 7:15 p.m.