Myrtle Beach Pelicans Game Notes: August 17 vs. Salem
Today, the Myrtle Beach Pelicans continue a three-game set against the Salem Red Sox (a Boston Red Sox affiliate) with the middle game of the series beginning at 6:05 p.m. This evening, RHP Alexander Vargas (2-4, 4.86 ERA) starts for Myrtle Beach against RHP Daniel Gonzalez (5-8, 4.18 ERA). Television coverage starts at 6:00 p.m. on the CW21 and on MiLB.tv. A radio broadcast begins at 5:50 p.m. on MyrtleBeachPelicans.com/Broadcast, TuneIn and the MiLB First Pitch app.
BIRDS SHUTOUT, FALL IN OPENER TO RED SOX
The Myrtle Beach Pelicans were downed by the Salem Red Sox 1-0 in the series opener on Friday from TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark. The Red Sox plated the only run of the game in the fifth inning when Keith Curcio scored on a sacrifice fly from Delvin Granberg off of Ryan Kellogg for the Birds. Kellogg was strong in his start, allowing just the one run in the fifth over five innings on four hits. Ethan Roberts (one inning), Ryan Lawlor (two innings) and Manny Rodriguez (one inning) combined to throw shutout baseball the rest of the way for the Pelicans. It was the second time in the last three games in which the Pelicans had been shutout.
MY OH AMAYA
Miguel Amaya has been a hot hitter for the Pelicans over the last month. After hitting just .217/.353/.361 with five homers in the first half of the season (49 games), he is hitting a strong .258/.379/.455 with five home runs in the second half of the season (39 games). His second half OPS (.833) is 119 points higher than his first-half OPS (.714). Since July 4, Amaya is hitting .300/.434/.522 with eight doubles, four home runs, 21 RBIs and 19 BB compared to 14 strikeouts in a span of 27 games. The Pelicans catcher is within two long balls of his career-best 12 he hit with Low-A South Bend in 2018. In 2018, his second-half OPS (.634) was much lower than his first half mark (.865). Defensively, Amaya also has the MiLB lead with caught-stealings (45).
BACK IN THE FRIENDLY CONFINES
Inside the pitcher-friendly TicketReturn.Com Field at Pelicans Ballpark, the Birds have been an entirely different team than when they are on the road. At home, the Pelicans own the third-best ERA in the league (3.52), while they are last (10th) in road ERA (4.78) in the Carolina League. Their road slashline of .238/.326/.356 is also much better than home games: .217/.311/.318. The Birds have hit 31 home runs at home and allowed 40 while they have hit 36 homers on the road in eight fewer games and allowed a league-worst 47 road blasts.
WHEN THE RED SIGN IS FLASHING, DO NOT WALK
The Pelicans pitching staff has not given up many free passes over the last few games. As a team, Myrtle Beach arms have just walked 14 batters over their last nine games (1.6 per game) and have not walked a single batter three times in that span. On the year, when walking three or fewer, the Birds are 38-41, much better than their overall record of 48-73. Another key has been the bullpen, which has just walked eight batters over their last nine games. When the bullpen is on, so are the Pelicans, as they are 29-16 when the bullpen does not allow any runs.
SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER?
The Pelicans are three games back of the Fayetteville Woodpeckers for second place in the Southern Division as of Friday. If the season were to end today, the Woodpeckers would be in the playoffs and they also hold the head-to-head lead over the Pelicans. Winston-Salem is 0.5 games back of the Pelicans and 3.5 back of the Woodpeckers. The Pelicans have captured the season series against the Dash while Winston-Salem lost the season series with Fayetteville. Fayetteville, which was Buies Creek last season, won the Mills Cup title in 2018 in a one-game, hurricane-shortened series.
BACK AT HOME
The Birds will be back home for a six-game stretch in seven days (separated by an off day) from August 16 through 22 to finish off the home slate. In their last 16 games, 11 will be on the road. The Birds finish off the season with an 11-game road trip against Northern Division foes, playing three in Salem, four in Potomac and four in Wilmington. The Pelicans are 25-40 at home and have a road record of 23-33.
OFFENSE APLENTY AGAINST RED SOX
The Salem Red Sox have had the Birds number in their head-to-head meetings this season as Myrtle Beach is 5-8 against Salem, but the games have featured a ton of offense. The Pelicans are hitting .259/.331/.382 (highest batting average and OPS against any team this season) with seven homers in 13 games against Salem while the Red Sox are batting .277/.347/.370 in those 13 games. The Pelicans have scored 63 runs (5.3 runs per game) while the Red Sox have managed 64 runs in those games. Grant Fennell has torn up the Red Sox, hitting .388 (19-for-49) against them in 13 games with a .922 OPS and six doubles while Cam Balego is hitting .297 (11-for-37).
The Pelicans lead the league in walks with 448 (3.7 per game). Cam Balego has been a master at drawing base on balls in the second half. Since July 9 (34 games), Balego is tied for second in all of baseball (Major and Minor Leagues) with 31 walks. After walking 19 times in 48 games in the first half, Balego has walked 34 times 52 games in the second half (1st half OBP: .347, 2nd half OBP: .409). His OPS has also increased from .716 in the first half to .835 in the second half.
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