Salem Red Sox roll over Pelicans
Michael Almanzar made history by reaching base in his 16th consecutive plate appearance, Keith Couch tossed the first nine-inning complete game of Salem’s season, and the Salem Red Sox steamrolled the Pelicans 6-1 on Wednesday evening at LewisGale Field.
Almanzar recorded hits in each of his first three at-bats in the game, giving him 12 hits, three walks, and one hit-by-pitch over his last 16 trips to the batters’ box. While the Carolina League record is unknown, Almanzar matched the major league record by reaching in 16 consecutive plate appearances, tying Ted Williams’ streak in 1957. In his fourth at-bat of the night, Almanzar flared a shallow fly to right, handled in the air by the second-baseman to conclude his remarkable run. Two of his three Wednesday hits, including a double to the fence in right in the third, occurred on 0-2 counts.
The Red Sox scored three times each in the third and fourth innings, opening the scoring with a two-out, three-run missile from Xander Bogaerts. The 19-year-old shortstop had not gone yard in his previous 17 games before Tuesday’s solo blast, but a three-run bomb to left gave him homers in two straight games and broke the scoreless draw against Pelicans starter Randy Henry.
In the last of the third, Carson Blair’s leadoff single preceded Lucas LeBlanc’s RBI triple. Two batters later, Heiker Meneses singled home LeBlanc to make it 5-0. After Meneses was caught stealing, Travis Shaw and Brandon Jacobs delivered back-to-back doubles to bring home another run and increase Salem’s lead to 6-zip.
The offensive support was more than enough for Couch, who took a shutout into the ninth before Christian Villanueva’s RBI single drove in Brett Nicholas to put the Pelicans on the board. But Couch retired the next three Birds after Villanueva, completing his best start of the season to win for the first time since June 13. Couch scattered 10 hits (eight singles) and did not walk anybody, striking out four and taking advantage of three double-plays. Couch induced 11 ground-outs and used 95 pitches to guide Salem to victory.
Almanzar went 3-for-4 to raise his average to .316, bringing him to the top of the Carolina League batting chart among active players. He also matched the Carolina League record of 12 consecutive hits in succession, presuming that the record allows walks and hit-by-pitches to not interfere with the streak. According to the Carolina League media guide, Almanzar now shares the record with Kenneth Kuhn, who recorded 12 straight hits for Burlington over three games in 1958. Although his consecutive plate appearances reaching base streak came to its conclusion, Almanzar still owns a ten-game hitting streak, in which he is batting a preposterous .553 (21-for-38) with four home runs and 11 RBI.