Potomac stalls in 6-2 loss to Salem

In their first matchup since they became division rivals, the Potomac Nationals (11-9) fell to the Salem Red Sox (13-8) 6-2 at Friday night. The P-Nats rallied from an early 1-0 deficit, but saw walks plague RHP Joan Baez (L, 0-3) once again. Baez did not issue a walk over the first three frames, but he walked three and hit a batter in the fourth inning, and then issued two more walks in the fifth. In each of those innings, Salem plated multiple runs.

p-natsThe Red Sox struck first with a run in the first inning, as they improved to 10-1 when they score the first run of the game. 2B Josh Tobias doubled down the right field line with one out, and DH Michael Chavis made it 1-0 with a two-out RBI single. Baez settled in after that and retired seven straight Salem hitters.

Potomac finally got to RHP Travis Lakins (W, 3-0) in the fourth inning. After the P-Nats had a man reach base in each of the first three innings but failed to score, they had three straight singles that began the fourth frame. 1B Ian Sagdal, 3B Kelvin Gutierrez, and C Taylor Gushue each had a base hit, as Gushue’s RBI single tied the game. Lakins escaped, as he retired the next three hitters.

As soon as the P-Nats tied the game, Salem took the lead back. Baez issued back-to-back walks to 1B Josh Ockimey and Chavis to open the bottom of the fourth inning, and the right-handed starter then hit C Austin Rei in the helmet. The one out HBP loaded the bases, and Baez then walked in a run. A wild pitch plated another run, as Salem led 3-1 after four innings.

Command was an issue in the following inning for Baez as well, as the Potomac starter failed to make it through the fifth inning. Baez issued a leadoff walk to CF Tate Matheny, gave up a single to Tobias, while Ockimey made it 4-1 with a sacrifice fly. Chavis walked, which ended Baez’s night. RHP Whit Mayberry entered and gave up a two-run triple to SS Chad De La Guerra, the first man that he faced. De La Guerra’s extra-base hit made it 6-1.

Lakins departed after five innings, as RHP Yankory Pimentel entered from the Salem bullpen. Sagdal led off the sixth inning with a single, and the Potomac first baseman later scored his second run of the game on Gushue’s sacrifice fly. After Sagdal’s single, Pimentel retired six straight batters. RHP Trevor Kelley gave up a leadoff single to RF Rhett Wiseman in the ninth, but the righty struck out 2B Bryan Mejia and wrapped up the game with a double play.

Off of the loss, Potomac will aim to even the series on Saturday night. RHP Wirkin Estevez (0-1, 5.51) is set to start for the P-Nats. Estevez has allowed just three total earned runs over his last two starts, which total 11.2 innings. On the mound for Salem, LHP Matt Kent (1-1, 4.71) will look for a fourth straight impressive start. Kent has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last three starts. First pitch is set for 6:05pm. The Potomac broadcast will get underway at 5:50pm with the P-Nats Leadoff Show. You can listen to the Potomac broadcast at potomacnationals.com or on the TuneIn Radio App.

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