There’s never going to be a time when everyone on your team is red-hot at the same time. You also almost never see a team when everyone is struggling. A winning team finds a way to put together quality performances game-in, game-out even when not everyone is playing so well. But in a Thursday doubleheader, the Montgomery Biscuits were reduced to a one-man show.
Double-A Southern League: Game 1: Birmingham Barons (CHW) 10, Montgomery Biscuits 2 (7 innings)
Matt Buschmann (who I talked about here) made his first appearance in the Rays organization and it did not go well. Buschmann lasted just 4.1 innings, allowing 6 runs, 5 earned, on 5 hits, striking out 4 and walking 4 as well, although 2 were intentional. He did show some action on his sinker, forcing a 5-3 groundout to airout ratio, but he threw just 44 of 80 pitches for strikes. The Rays are going to work hard to see if they can get Buschman’s command right, but he’s certainly not there yet. The Biscuits did see a nice performance by the hard-throwing Scott Shuman, who began digging into his astronomical ERA with 1.1 innings of no-hit ball, striking out 3 while walking 1. His ERA now stands at… 14.73.
This game was over prematurely- literally because they were playing a 7 inning game to shorten the doubleheader and then because Buschmann and reliever Alex Koronis (1.1 IP, 4 ER) got shelled. The Biscuits offense played decently but went 0 for 9 in runners in scoring position, allowing this game to get out of hand. Matched up against White Sox top prospect Nestor Molina, three Biscuits had multi-hit games. Hak-Ju Lee went an impressive 3 for 4 with a double as he has really heated up the last few days, Kyeong Kang went 2 for 3 with a triple, a homer, and both RBI for the Biscuits in the game, and Henry Wrigley went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles. Despite allowing 10 hits, Molina went 6.2 innings for the Barons, allowing just 2 runs, striking out 7 while walking 1.
Game 2: Birmingham Barons (CHW) 5, Montgomery Biscuits 2 (7 innings)
It was a matchup of a couple of starting pitching prospects with some promise as the Biscuits sent Jake Thompson to the mound agains the Barons’ Jose Quintana. Neither pitched particularly well, but Quintana was better, going 5.2 innings and allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 1 while walking 2 while Thompson continued to fail to impress, going 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. He threw 52 of his 81 pitches for strikes and forced a 6-3 groundout to flyout ratio, but he has to get his strikeout rate up. The Biscuits had just 5 hits in the 7-inning game and 2 of them were from Lee, who went 2 for 3 with a triple and a run scored. Lee is an insane 8 for his last 12 with 2 triples, a double, and 3 RBI, but it shows the ineptitude of his teammates right now as he has scored just once. Tyler Bortnick went 1 for 3 with an RBI, hopefully enough to help him break out of his early slide (.184 BA), while Cole Figueroa went 1 for 2 with an RBI of his own. Other than those three, the rest of the lineup went 1 for 15 with 3 walks. The Biscuits’ two losses dips them to 10-12 on the year, and hopefully they can start rallying around Lee and get that record on the right side of .500.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 1, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 0
There are so many games played throughout the professional ranks of baseball every single day. There are always a couple classics. While the Rays played an exciting game as they walked-off versus the Angels, the Stone Crabs played a thriller of their own.
The Rays had lefty Braulio Lara on the mound against a familiar face: former Oriole Daniel Cabrera, who was making his first appearance in over a year after missing most of 2010, all of 2011, and up until now in 2012 with inflammation and later tightness in his right throwing arm (thanks to Corey Dawkins of Baseball Prospectus for the injury data). The monstrous 6’7″, 225 right-hander was up to the task, and although Cabrera, who turns 30 next month, was pitching in a High-A game, he’ll have some positives to take. But thanks to Lara and outstanding relief work from Eliazer Suero, the Stone Crabs came away with the win in this one.
The Stone Crabs scratched across a run in the 3rd, stringing together singles by Robi Estrada and Ty Morrison and a hit-by-pitch by Derek Dietrich with a sac fly by Mikie Mahtook to take a 1-0 lead. That was it for the scoring in the game. Cabrera went 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. But Lara and Suero were even better. Lara went 5 innings, allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2 and forcing 6 groundouts to 2 airouts. And Suero followed with a legitimate save, tossing 4 shutout innings allowing just 1 hit and 2 walks, striking out 2. They combined to 3-hit the Marauders in this one as the Stone Crabs did win 1-0. A bunch of Stone Crabs had hits, Estrada (2 for 3, run scored), Morrison (2 for 4), Derek Dietrich (1 for 3, double), Phil Wunderlich (1 for 3), and Riccio Torrez (1 for 4), but the Stone Crabs went just 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. But Lara and Suero were dominant, and that was enough for Stone Crabs on this evening taking them to 11-9 on the year.
Low-A Midwest League: Beloit Snappers (MIN) 9, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3
Sometimes your ace just doesn’t have it. Unfortunately for the Hot Rods, that was the case on Thursday night. Jake Floethe forced 6 groundouts without a single airout in 3.2 innings for Bowling Green, and that’s the only positive stat I can give you. Floethe’s command was way-off and he was pummeled for 8 runs on 8 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. Jason McEachern, Andrew Bellatti, and Austin Hubbard did pitch 4.1 innings of scoreless relief behind him, but too little, too late. A couple of big-time Twins prospects had nice games in this one as third baseman Miguel Sano went 1 for 2 with a triple, 2 walks, and 3 runs scored and second baseman Eddie Rosario, who went 3 for 5 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Cameron Seitzer had a great day for the Hot Rods, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI, and Ryan Brett went 2 for 4 with a run scored. One player who has really fallen back to earth is Tyler Goeddel who went 0 for 4 with a strikeout to lower his batting average on the year to .322 (still not too shabby at all) as he’s mired in a 0 for 9 slump. Hopefully he can get it going again. The Hot Rods have lost 3 of their last 4 after a 12-5 start and although 13-8 is still a nice record, the Hot Rods clinched a series loss to the Snappers on Thursday and need to get back on track.