Red Sox are in three-way battle for second half crown

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Carolina League Player-of-the-Week Bobby Dalbec connects for a home run in last
week’s series against Winston-Salem. PHOTO BY JOHN WACHER
Michael Osinski’s bat splinters as he takes one on the
handle. PHOTO BY JOHN WACHER

The Salem Red Sox will open a three-game series with the Potomac Nationals on Saturday as they battle for a spot in the Mills Cup playoffs.

Salem was just one game out of first place in the Northern Division second half standings through Monday’s action. Teams were off for the Major League Baseball All-Star game on Tuesday and Salem was one game behind Lynchburg at that point. The Hillcats were 15-10, Wilmington is second at 13-10 and Salem was just percentage points behind the Blue Rocks in third with a 14-11 record.

Salem closed out a four game series at Wilmington on Monday, splitting four with the Rocks. On Monday Wilmington scored twice in the sixth and twice more in the eighth to stymie the Red Sox and earn a split of the four-game series, winning 7-4 at Frawley Stadium.

In this game Jerry Downs was hit by a pitch in the third inning for his league-leading 18th time, setting a new Red Sox-era record for most times being hit in a season.

On Monday Minor League Baseball named Salem Red Sox third baseman Bobby Dalbec the Carolina League Player of the Week for the week of July 9-15, the second time in a row he’s received the award.

Dalbec, 23, was again unstoppable in the week, batting a scorching .476 (10 hits in 21 at bats) with four homers to run his league-leading tally to 23; that’s a new Salem record for the Red Sox era (2009-present) and one shy of matching Ademar Rifaela’s league-best tally from 2017. He drove in eight runs, scored five times, drew five walks and stole a base for the Sox in six games over the week, and posted a .577 on-base percentage and a staggering 1.048 slugging percentage.