By Brian Hoffman
The Salem Red Sox will have a big series this week as they try to stay within shouting range of the first place Fredericksburg Nationals in the Carolina League standings. Salem will play six games in Fredericksburg beginning on Tuesday of this week.
The Sox come into the week six games behind the Nationals in the second half standings of the Carolina League’s North Division. Salem lost two of three games against Lynchburg last weekend while the Nats swept their three game series with Delmarva to go another two games up on the Sox in the first action after the All-Star game break. The Red Sox are in third place in the division with a 12-12 second half record while Down East is in second place at 13-10 and Fredericksburg is 18-6.
The Sox need to make some hay while the sun shines this week, as they can’t afford to drop much farther behind the Nationals in the North Division standings. If Salem can stay close they’ll have a puncher’s chance of winning the division as they host Fredericksburg for the final six games of the regular season from September 6-11.
Salem was home last weekend as the visiting Hillcats took two of three, winning 9-6 on Friday and 3-1 on Sunday. Salem won the Saturday game, 3-2, while wearing tie-dyed Grateful Dead uniform tops. The Sox scored a run in the first and two in the second then turned it over to starter Juan Encarnacion and relievers Graham Hoffman and Luis Guerrero to hold the lead. Encarnacion got the win to go 7-4 for the season, Hoffman got his third hold and Guerrero picked up his fifth save.
After this week’s games in Fredericksburg the Red Sox will be back home on Tuesday, August 2nd, to open a six game series with Fayetteville. The Woodpeckers are in last place in the South Division, so if Salem can gain some ground in the division this week they’ll be in a good position to make a run with six weeks to go in the season. Tuesday of next week is “National Night Out” and a week from today, on August 4, is “Area 51 Night.”