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Sunday, September 1, 2013
STILL ROLLING: In sweeping an ad-hoc twin bill against Lynchburg on Sunday, the Salem Red Sox won for the 24th time in 32 games.
By winning the continuation of Saturday's game 2-1 and blanking the Hillcats 3-0, the Red Sox also established a new standard for wins in the season. At 75-64, Salem now owns its best mark as a Red Sox affiliate.
Individually, second baseman Mookie Betts has reached base safely in 29 consecutive games after collecting four hits in the two games. He was 3 for 3
with a double in the second game, boosting his season batting average to .337.
BETTER BETTS: The diminutive infielder is fresh from an appearance on Baseball America's weekly Hot Sheet, highlighting the top performances from around the minor leagues.
"At 5-foot-9, he's not physically imposing, but he has very strong hands and wrists which work well with a very patient eye," wrote the magazine's staff.
Betts batted .383 in August after a slow start with the Red Sox in July.
"I can't even say why," Betts said. "It's been a learning curve and just happened to be the month of August when I feel I have learned the most."
Betts said adjusting the Carolina League's pitchers and their improved control likely has been the key.
"I wasn't used to the pitching because they have better command and everything," Betts said. "My hitting coach said it would take time and I guess this is how long it takes."
MAKING THE PITCH: Speaking of pitching, the Red Sox got another pair of strong pitching performances.
Heri Quevedo pitched four shutout innings before rain halted play on Saturday. When the game resumed Sunday, Robbie Scott (4-4) dealt three innings of one-hit ball to get the victory. Matt Price pitched the final two innings for his sixth save.
David Chester broke a 1-1 tie with a towering home run to left in the fifth inning.
Mike Augliera (9-6) then hurled five scoreless innings in the seven-inning second game, also permitting just one hit.
Madison Younginer and Matty Ott finished the shutout with one-hit, two-strikeout frames. Ott notched his fifth save.
PLAYING FOR SOMETHING: Betts and Augliera said the team's torrid month could be directly attributed to chasing down a playoff berth.
"In the beginning, we were just kind of playing; we were playing hard and effective, but we didn't really have a big motive," Bets said. "When we knew we had a chance to make the playoffs, we really turned it on and started playing together."
Augliera admitted the knowledge that it would take a huge effort to reach the postseason spurred Salem to action as much as anything.
"Especially when we knew we had to play really well to the end to clinch," he said. "It made everything more fun. We did our jobs in August and hopefully we'll keep it going.
"Whenever you have something to play for, especially the playoffs, it's a little more tense and you try that much harder. Especially when we knew we had to play really well to the end to clinch. Made everything more fun. We did our jobs in August and hopefully we keep it going."
ON DECK: The regular season ends today with a 1:05 p.m. contest.
Salem will send out Williams Cuevas (7-9, 5.22 earned run average) to face Lynchburg's Ryan Weber (6-4, 3.80).
Weather JournalMidday update: More ice likely later