The Myrtle Beach Pelicans will welcome an off day Monday after a trying season-opening four-game series in which they scored a total of five runs while being shut out twice.
The visiting Salem Red Sox, who never trailed in any of the four games, completed the sweep Sunday with a 3-0 win before an announced crowd of 2,410 at TicketReturn.com Field at Pelicans Ballpark.
The Red Sox (4-0) continued their pursuit of history in the process, extending their winning streak to 15 games dating back to the end of last season and the playoffs. It’s a franchise record and just one game off the Carolina League’s all-time record of 16 straight wins, set by Winston-Salem in 1950. The 15 straight wins matches the second-best streak in league history, achieved by Raleigh in 1959.
As for the Pelicans (0-4), new manager Joe Mikulik remained upbeat and is preaching patience to his club after the early struggles.
“I’ll tell you one thing I learned a long time ago is to try to stay even keeled,” he said. “As a player, it was tough for me to stay even keeled and I feel it for some of these guys that are scuffling early. I can’t let them get too down. We as a staff, we’ve got to maintain a proper disposition. And I’ll tell you what, you come here at 1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, the way we work, these guys are doing well. Everything we ask, they’re doing. So we just can’t let them get too down. … This is a reminder of how tough this game is.”
The Pelicans left 11 runners on base Sunday and were unable to capitalize on a strong start by right-hander Sam Wolff, who took the loss despite giving up just one hit and one run in five innings.
Wolff allowed just one walk along with that lone hit and struck out six in an impressive debut, but he ran into trouble in the top of the fifth when Salem slugger Matthew Gedman crushed a lead-off double to the warning track in center field. Gedman then tagged on a flyout by Mario Martinez, taking third on the play before coming home to score on a wild pitch for the first run of the game.
The Red Sox added two more runs in the seventh when Martinez led off this time with a double to the warning track in center. Reed Gragnani and Aneury Tavarez followed with back-to-back singles to make it 2-0 and knock right-handed reliever Ryan Harvey from the game. Lefty Sam Stafford replaced him and was inconsistent with his control, alternating strikeouts and walks – including a run-scoring free pass to Jonathan Roof with the bases loaded for the third run.
More frustrating for the Pelicans, though, was their missed opportunities on the offensive side.
They had the bases loaded with one out in the fifth, but Salem starter Corey Littrell struck out center fielder Nick Williams on a pitch in the dirt and reliever Simon Mercedes got first baseman Jorge Alfaro to ground out to third on a nice play as Martinez corralled a short hop and fired across the diamond.
Myrtle Beach had runners on first and third again in the seventh, but Williams struck out to end the inning.
And then in the eighth, Salem center fielder Matty Johnson robbed third baseman Joey Gallo of a two-run home run with a leaping catch at the wall, his glove extending over the yellow line at the top of the fence to haul in the long out.
It just wasn’t the Pelicans’ weekend.
“We hit some balls hard. That’s a positive,” Mikulik said. “That’s what you look for. I mean, throw the scoreboard out, just look [at] the at-bats and the balls that were hit hard. Nick Williams hit a ball that went a good ways too. Those two balls there, in a lot of ballparks it’s a different story. But we have to play here – that’s just the way it is.”
Mercedes earned the win in relief for Salem, giving up just two hits in 31/3 innings with four strikeouts. Madison Younginer earned the save while striking out two in the ninth.
Aside from Wolff’s performance on the mound, the highlight for Myrtle Beach was left fielder Odubel Herrera going 4-for-4 out of the leadoff spot to raise his batting average to .583.
The Pelicans will travel to Wilmington, Del., for a three-game series with the Blue Rocks that starts Tuesday night.
“We didn’t plan on starting 0-4, but we can’t let it get to us,” Mikulik said. “We’ve got a bus ride [Monday]. We start a new series against Wilmington. That’s all we can do is look forward to that.”
Contact RYAN YOUNG at 626-0318, or follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/RyanYoungTSN.