With the major league team hitting a bit of a rough patch, we look to the minor league system to give us some bright spots.
Triple-A International League: Empire State Yankees 3, Durham Bulls 2 (10 innings)
The Bulls belted out 13 hits, but hitting into 3 double plays and going just 1 for 7 led to just 2 runs, both on solo homers, as they fell to the Yankees’ Triple-A team 3-2 in 10 innings. The Yankees took a 2-0 lead in the 3rd against Jim Paduch on a 2-run blast by Stephen Pearce, but the Bulls came back in the top of the 4th with back-t0-back home runs by Leslie Anderson and the recently-promoted Henry Wrigley to tie the game at 2. The Bulls belted out 9 hits in 6 innings against Yankees started Nelson Figueroa, but the 2 runs on the solo homers was all they could manage. After Paduch gave the Bulls 4 innings of 2-run ball, the Bulls got 3 shutout innings from Romulo Sanchez and a scoreless frame by John Gaub. But the Bulls couldn’t get anything against Figueroa and reliever Juan Cedeno, and after Kevin Whelan and Josh Lueke pitched scoreless half-innings for each side in the 9th and Whelan turned in a second shutout inning in the 10th, Lueke allowed a walk-off RBI double to Colin Curtis, and the Yankees won 3-2. The Bulls simply could not get runs across despite their 13 hits and four players with multi-hit games, and it cost them dearly in this one as they fell to 13-24 on the season. (Before you get frustrated at the Rays, appreciate the fact that they haven’t started like the Bulls have.)
The Double-A Montgomery Biscuits were rained out of their game with Jacksonville.
High-A Florida State League: Ft. Myers Miracle (MIN) 3, Charlotte Stone Crabs 1
The Stone Crabs faced the same problems the Bulls did, banging out 11 hits, all but one of which were singles, but managing just 1 run and that was the difference in this one. Wilking Rodriguez continues to strike out opposing hitters at a torrid rate, but his pitch count got up and he lasted just 4.1 innings, allowing 2 runs, both on a Daniel Rohlfing RBI double in the first inning, on 3 hits and 3 walks, but striking out 7. The Stone Crabs got their lone run on a Steven Tinoco RBI single that scored Brett Nommensen, but Derek Dietrich was thrown out trying to score as well by Twins prospect Oswaldo Arcia, and that killed the Hot Rods’ momentum. After George Jensen allowed a run in the 6th, C.J. Riefenhauser and Chris Rearick combined for 3 shutout frames, but it was in vain. Mikie Mahtook, Derek Dietrich, Hector Guevara, and Steven Tinoco each had 2 hits in this one, but the Stone Crabs could not push runs across as they fell to 16-19 on the season.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 3 (6 innings)
For inspiration, look no further than to the Low-A Bowling Green Hot Rods. Between a nice performance by starter Jake Floethe and a clutch hit by Joshua Sale, the Hot Rods came away with their second win in a row in this rain-shortened game. Floethe kept the South Bend hitters completely off balance, allowing just 2 hits and 2 walks in 5 innings, striking out 5 and forcing a 6-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Josh Sale finally got him some run support in the 4th, slamming his second homer since getting promoted to the Hot Rods, a big 3-run blast off South Bend starter J.R. Bradley, to hand the Hot Rods a 3-0 lead. Jeff Malm hit an RBI double off Bradley to extend that lead to 4-0. Things got dicey for the Hot Rods in the top of the 6th as Stayton Thomas allowed a Matt Helm 2-run double and a groundout scored a third run, but Thomas escaped further trouble and the game was called after 6 innings due to rain as the Hot Rods edged the Silver Hawks 4-3. The Hot Rods improved to 19-17 on the season with the win.