There were plenty of positives to take from the Rays minor league affiliates’ games on Monday. Results were not generally one of them. Rays affiliates went 1-4, including the Durham Bulls losing both ends of a doubleheader after their rainout yesterday. Let’s try to piece together exactly what happened.
Triple-A International League Game 1: Pawtucket Red Sox 2, Durham Bulls 0 (7 innings)
In the minors, when there’s a doubleheader, sometimes the teams mutually agree to make the games seven innings instead of nine. That’s what happened here. In the first game, the seven innings cost the Bulls a chance at a comeback, but saved the bats from some additional frustration.
The Bulls simply could not get anything against Red Sox started Justin Germano, who tossed 6 shutout innings, striking out 5 while walking none and allowing just 3 hits. Former Rays draftee (and former Tiger, Marlin, and Red Sox) Andrew Miller struck out two in a perfect 7th for the save. The Bulls’ 3 hits came from Will Rhymes, who went 1 for 3 with a stolen base, Jesus Feliciano, who went 1 for 3, and Shawn O’Malley, who went 1 for 2. Stephen Vogt‘s slide continued even after he was demoted as he went 0 for 3 to increase his slide to 0 for 16. The Bulls did see some progress from right-hander Chris Archer, who went 5.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3 to lower his ERA on the season to… 8.00. He allowed just 2 hits and a walk while striking out 3 in his final 3.1 frames, and on the day he forced 8 groundouts compared to 3 flyouts, a positive development. We know that Archer has electric stuff, and hopefully he’s finally finding his groove.
Game 2: Pawtucket Red Sox 7, Durham Bulls 1 (7 innings)
This one was a frustrating game. The Red Sox started longtime big leaguer Aaron Cook, who is making a case to be the Red Sox’ big league 5th starter, and he made an impressive on this evening. Cook had his sinker working to perfection, allowing 8 hits and walking 2 while striking out just 1 as he went the complete game (7 innings), but forcing 15 groundouts compared to just 2 flyouts. The Bulls got an excellent spot stat from Ryan Reid as he went 3 innings, allowing just 1 hit and 1 walk while striking out 5, and he would be relieved by three ex-big leaguers. Unfortunately, two of the trio could not do the job. Lance Pendleton took the loss, allowing 3 runs in a lone inning and Romulo Sanchez following with an even worse inning, allowing 4 runs, including 3 on a 3-run blast by Red Sox top prospect Will Middlebrooks. But there were a couple positives for the Bulls offensively. Stephen Vogt finally got a hit, two to be exact, as he went 2 for 3, and Reid Brignac (1 for 4) and Brandon Guyer (1 for 3 with a walk) both singled for Durham.
These two losses send the Bulls to just 6-13 on the season. These are not the most talented guys in the system, but they have a ton of ex-big leaguers along with a few nice prospects, and with Vogt along with Brignac joining the team, hopefully they’re on the verge of a breakthrough.
Double-A Southern League: Penascola Blue Wahoos (CLE) 10, Montgomery Biscuits 4
This game did not turn out well for the Biscuits, but at least is had a cool pattern. In both the first and ninth innings, the Blue Wahoos scored 4 runs and the Biscuits responded with 1, and the Biscuits got 2 runs in the 6th before Penascola got 2 in the 7th. Kyle Lobstein allowed those four runs in a rough first inning in which he allowed 4 hits and walk. Lobstein rebounded after that to finish with middling numbers for the game as he went 4 innings, allowing 6 runs on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 3. He threw 80 pitches, just 43 strikes. While Lobstein and three relievers experienced their struggles, the Biscuits offense did not have that bad of a day. Greg Sexton hit a 9th inning homer as part of a 2 for 4 day, and Chris Sheridan went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Hak-Ju Lee continued to slowly find his form, going 1 for 4 with a single to leadoff the game. This loss takes the Biscuits below .500 at 9-10.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 8, Palm Beach Cardinals 6
If your organization is going to have just one win in a day, you better make it count. The Stone Crabs did just that.
The Stone Crabs jumped out to a lead in the 2nd inning, stringing together a Phil Wunderlich walk, a Mikie Mahtook double, and Riccio Torrez groundout to take a 1-0 lead against Cardinals starter Drew Benes. But the Cardinals tied the game against Enny Romero in the bottom of the inning, with Michael Swinson walking, rehabbing big leaguer Alan Craig singling, and Chris Edmonson driving in Swinson on a single. Charlotte tied it in the 4th when Mahtook singled and scored on a Robby Price single, but the Cardinals scored a run on a Romero wild pitch to retake the lead in the bottom of the frame. Romero went 5 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2. He did force 6 groundouts compared to 3 strikeouts.
Benes got into a rhythm following the Price single, retiring 5 in a row. But the quickly came to an end in the 6th when Wunderlich led off the inning with a double. Wunderlich advanced to 3rd on a Mahtook flyout before Benes hit Riccio Torrez with a pitch to end his outing. In came Dean Kiekhefer and things got ugly fast. Price came up with another big hit, doubling to score Wunderlich, and then Mayo Acosta picked a great time for his first home run of the year, slamming a 3-run shot to give Charlotte a 6-3 lead. Eliazer Suero then came in for the Stone Crabs and tossed 2 shutout innings, but apparently 3 was just too much. Suero allowed three quick runs in the 8th on a Patrick Elkins home run, a Geoffrey Klein single, and then a Ronny Gil homer to tie the game at 6 before Chris Rearick came into the game to escape further trouble. But the Stone Crabs had a response in the top of the 9th. Cody Rogers walked to begin the inning before Ty Morrison bunted a single and Hector Guevara bunted the runners to 2nd and 3rd. That took the bat out of slugger Derek Dietrich‘s hands, but Phil Wunderlich was more than ready for his big chance, drilling a 2-run single to give the Stone Crabs an 8-6 lead, and that would be the final. Wunderlich had himself a nice day, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Guevara went 3 for 4 with the big sac bunt, Mahtook went 2 for 5 with the double and triple, Robby Price went 2 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run, and Mayo Acosta had a satisfying season debut, going 1 for 4 with his 3-run jack. The pitching was a little sketchy for the Stone Crabs, but the offense stepped up as Charlotte improved to 8-9 on the year.
Low-A Midwest League: Quad Cities River Bandits (STL) 10, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
You’re not going to find a bizarre yet completely boring game than this one. In this game, the Hot Rods’ first three hitters in the lineup, Ryan Brett, Drew Vettleson, and Todd Glaesmann, all went 1 for 4 with a double and none of them scored a run nor drove in an RBI. What? But wait, one more thing. In this game, the Hot Rods were blown out thanks to the battery of Cardinals top pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins and Jesus Montero… time out! Jesus Montero plays in the major for the Seattle Mariners! Oh, you didn’t hear.
M’s have an off-day so they lend Jesus Montero to the Cardinals’ Low-A affiliate for the day and he homers. milb.com/milb/stats/sta…
— Robbie Knopf (@RobbieKnopf) April 24, 2012
Just kidding. There just so happens to be two Jesus Montero’s who are catchers. This Montero is 21 years old and can actually catch (38% CS% in 4+ MiLB seasons). And he also entered this game with just 1 home run in 142 pro games, and that homer came back in 2007 at Foreign Rookie ball. As the Tweet noted, he now has two as he hit a solo blast off of Rays prospect Parker Markel. Montero went 2 for 4 with the homer, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored from the nine-hole. Jenkins, meanwhile, tossed 6 innings of 5-hit, 2 run ball, striking out 2 while walking none. The runs he allowed were on a 2-run blast to Hot Rods catcher Matt Rice, his first home run of the season and 4th as a pro. Jenkins kept his fastball too far up in the zone on the day, posting a 6-8 groundout to flyout ratio, but only Rice could capitalize. Rice had a tough day behind the plate as his pitchers struggled mightily. Markel allowed 6 runs on 8 hits in 4 innings, walking 2 while striking out none. He forced a 7 to 1 groundout to flyout ratio, but when he missed, he got hammered as he allowed 2 home runs, to Montero and Colin Walsh. Reliever Trevor Shull came in and promptly allowed 4 runs on 5 hits in 2 innings before Andrew Bellatti and Stayton Thomas combined for 3 scoreless frames to end the night. The loss dropped the Hot Rods to 12-6 on the season, still tops among Rays affiliates, and hopefully they can laugh this strange game off and get back to their winning ways with their talented roster.