The second spot in the Carolina League Northern Division playoffs will be decided this weekend as the Salem Red Sox end the regular season at home. Salem will host Winston-Salem for four games, beginning Friday.
The Sox held a one game edge over Frederick heading into Tuesday’s game, with the entire league off Monday. Potomac is still mathematically in the race, three games behind Salem as of Tuesday, and Wilmington was 3 and a half games behind the Sox.
The picture could clear up this week with Salem scheduled to play a three game series at Frederick, concluding today. Potomac will be playing Lynchburg, the first place team in the Northern Division, and Wilmington will be at hosting Down East, who is battling for a spot in the Southern Division playoffs. Potomac finishes up the regular season at Frederick while Wilmington will host Lynchburg.
Lynchburg and Buies Creek are already in the playoffs by virtue of winning the first, Lynchburg in the North and Buies Creek in the south. Both are also leading their divisions in the second half, so it will likely come down to the second place teams in both divisions. As of Tuesday, with one week to play, no one in the entire Carolina League was eliminated from contention.
Salem was able to maintain second place in the Southern Division by holding off Frederick and Potomac with a 4-2 homestand last week. Salem swept Potomac with three one-run victories, winning 3-2, 4-3 and 6-5. That dropped the Nationals from third place to fourth, behind surging Frederick.
Over the weekend the Sox missed a great opportunity by losing two of three to Wilmington in Salem. They were all close games again, as the Sox lost Friday night, 3-1, won Saturday with a great pitching performance by Daniel Gonzalez, then dropped a 2-1 game in 10 innings on Monday.
The Sox fell just shy of taking a season series victory against the Blue Rocks, leaving the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth inning. Wilmington now owns the tiebreaker against the Red Sox should they tie for the final playoff spot.
This weekend’s games at Haley Toyota Field will start at 7:05 pm Friday, 6:05 pm Saturday and 1:05 pm on both Sunday and Labor Day Monday, ending the regular season. Friday is Andrew Benintendi Bobblehead Night, with the first 1,000 fans receiving bobbles of the popular Boston outfielder who played in Salem just last summer. Saturday is a military t-shirt giveaway for Military Appreciation Night.