Shut out 3-0 in the opener, but a 6-1 bounce back in the nightcap, the Potomac Nationals split the doubleheader with the Salem Red Sox, snapping a five-game home win streak.
Nathan Karns took the hill in Game One, having been hammered in his High-A debut on Tuesday, and gave folks an immediate jot of hope by striking out the side — the last two looking. But the second inning, Salem drew a one-out walk then a single and double plated the game’s first two runs. After another walk, Karns got the break he needed with a soft line drive that the baserunner badly misread for a 4-6 double play.
Karns would right himself in the third with another 1-2-3 inning in the third, and got the first two in the fourth before loading the bases (two singles and a walk). He struck out the #9 batter to escape that jam, then walked the leadoff batter in the 5th before getting another double play that would end his second start.
Paul Applebee came in with the bases empty and lived up his billing on the latest GBI, surrendering a solo shot (#7 in 33 IP), then back-to-back singles before finally getting an out.
Offensively, Potomac was anemic, more like the road version of this team and managed just five hits off Salem’s Matt Barnes, who threw a complete-game shutout.
Chris Marrero provided the lone extra-base hit — an opposite-field smash to right field that he lumbered in to second for a double. Suffice it to say, it looks like his leg injury suffered in the winter leagues this past offseason is still bothering him, a negative sign for a guy that could easily lose a footrace to catcher (or a coach) before he got hurt. Defensively, it did not appear to affect him.
Marrero may not be able to run very well, but he can still hit. His second safety of the doubleheader required just a trot, a line-drive shot over the left-field fence that gave Potomac a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the first in Game Two of the twinbill.
Potomac put the game away in the second in what Twitter followers know as “This is A ball.”
A walk by Michael Taylor, followed by a sacrifice bunt and an error by the pitcher, then a bunt for a base hit by recently activated Brent Greer that the pitcher misplayed, then a wild pitch. Two batters later a drag bunt up the first-base line by Francisco Soriano, which the Salem first baseman gloved than shotputted over the head of the catcher, enabling two runs to score for a 5-1 lead.
Justin Bloxom launched his 11th home run in the fifth to cap off the scoring.
The tines were in the spine of Salem because Grace was on last night. After giving up moonshot in the first inning, he allowed just one baserunner (a walk in the third) over the next four and a third innings, helping his own cause with three assists, two of which required some catlike quickness to make the play.
Despite taking a line drive off the leg with one out in the sixth, he finished with a three-hit complete game, just the third thrown by Potomac this season.
With the split, and a Lynchburg sweep of Frederick, the elimination number for Potomac dropped to six with nine games to play (the magic number for the P-Nats to overtake the Hillcats is 12).
Trevor Holder (3-1, 4.42) gets the ball today, the final home game of the first half for Potomac.