With the Frederick Keys offense in a bit of a swoon, good starting pitching has become even more of a premium.
And, in that regard, David Lebron has delivered for them.
Lebron, a 25-year-old right-hander in his first season as a professional starter, turned in his fourth consecutive quality start Saturday night in a 4-1 victory over the Salem Red Sox at Nymeo Field.
With good command over all four of his pitches, Lebron retired the first nine batters he faced.
He missed his location badly with one fastball, and Salem’s Jarren Duran made him pay to start the fourth inning with a wind-aided home run to straight-away center field.
But, otherwise, Lebron (1-0, 3.07 ERA) was very good over his four innings of work. He struck out four, allowed just two hits and produced an inning-ending double-play ball before a brief-but-intense period of rain ended his night earlier than he would have liked.
“Mother Nature had other plans,” he joked. “I am not sure what the whole ruling is. But I know having an hour break is not ideal for a starting pitcher to go back out there.”
The Keys (19-21) snapped a season-long four-game losing streak with the victory. Before the rain arrived and the game was delayed an hour and 32 minutes, they already had a 3-0 lead thanks to a two-run homer from Jomar Reyes and an RBI single by Trevor Craport in the first inning.
“That sparked us a little bit,” Keys manager Ryan Minor said. “We have been struggling for runs through the Wilmington series and into [Friday] night. You know, we haven’t gotten anything going. With runners in scoring position, we haven’t done much. [The Reyes home run] was a big hit for us. It got us going.”
Through the first two games of this Salem series, the Keys have already scored nine runs. They had only managed two through the previous four games in Wilmngton, Delaware.
On Friday night, the Keys scored five runs, which was the most they had scored in a game since May 4. But the pitching staff, which has been the best in the Carolina League since May started with a collective 2.63 ERA, fell apart. Keys pitchers issued a season-high nine walks in what became a 9-5 loss to Salem.
That’s why Lebron’s good start was so important Saturday. It allowed the team to regroup.
“He’s been really consistent for us the last couple of games. It’s really good to see from him,” Minor said. “He had the stuff tonight to go deep into the game, and we were hoping to do that because of the short bullpen. But, unfortunately, the rain came.”
Following the delay, the Keys bullpen tossed five scoreless innings.
Steve Klimek, 25, allowed just one hit over three innings to earn the win. He is now 2-1.
Travis Seabrooke, 23, pitched the final two innings to earn his second save of the season.
Note: Former Redskins Gary Clark and Vernon Davis were in attendance to greet fans and sign autographs.