Salem shut out Potomac, 4-0 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Mills Cup Series. The win was the 10th in a row for the Red Sox, who now have three chances to win one game at home to win their first league championship as a Red Sox affiliate.
That’s the 2013 Mill Cup series in a nutshell, playing it straight, as they used to say in the newspapers (you know, those funny paper thingies that come with the sales flyers). But in sports (and politics), it’s de rigeur to play the blame game. Without discrediting the pitching of Salem and Lynchburg per se, the explanation is pretty simple: as a group, the P-Nats bats have gone dead in the playoffs.
This is, of course, a broad generalization. There are exceptions — Cutter Dykstra, .375; Randolph Oduber, .333; Kevin Keyes, .294. But then there’s the heart of the lineup — Michael Taylor, .105; Adrian Nieto, .000; Brandon Miller, .000. Taylor is perhaps the most heartbreaking because even Stevie Wonder can see that he’s pressing, with eight strikeouts that have nearly been all waves at soft stuff away versus a rip-and-miss, a step back to his fundamental flaw that forced him to repeat this level in the first place.
Thus, it didn’t really matter who was pitching last night for Potomac; there are no nil-nil ties in baseball. Mooneyham was wild, walking four and running multiple deep counts, but only gave up one hit and two runs over four innings. Paul Demny wasn’t any better, giving up two runs on four hits and a walk over two and a 1/3rd innings of relief.
As you might expect from the numbers above, Dykstra and Oduber were 2-for-4 and 2-for-3 respectively but just once had consecutive hits, with one out in the 3rd. Oduber strayed too far past second base on a single to left by Dykstra and was gunned down 7-6-4 to kill the one true rally the P-Nats were able to put together. They finished with six hits (all singles) and one walk and left on seven.
The series shifts to Salem for remainder of the series. Sammy Solis is the most likely Game 3 starter for Potomac, but it’s possible that Blake Schwartz will be asked to take the hill on four days’ rest after throwing eight innings on Thursday. The Red Sox have announced that William Cuevas will oppose whomever the P-Nats choose.