Just one pitcher in the Rays organization at all levels, including the major leagues, allowed as many as 2 earned runs. It was a prolific pitching night, and a night to remember overall. It was exciting, and while the major league team rolled, the minor league teams gave Rays fans just a bit more satisfaction.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 1, Empire State Yankees 0
With Jeff Niemann out, the Rays need to figure out who will take his rotation spot. Alex Cobb started on Monday night, meaning that Niemann’s next scheduled start on Saturday is on rotation for him as well. Cobb’s start for Durham might as well have been a tryout to see if he was worthy of another opportunity to start in the big leagues. After a horrendous outing his last time out (1.2 innings, 8 ER), Cobb really came through. Cobb went 5 innings, allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 8 while walking 3 and forcing a 6-1 groundout to flyout ratio. He could not earn the win in this game as Adam Warren was excellent for the Yankees as well, but he finally cracked in the 7th, allowing a Juan Miranda solo home run. Warren went 7 innings, allowing just the 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3. But he would take the loss as the Bulls got 1.2 solid innings from Jhonny Nunez (who earned the win), and after Alex Torres walked the only batter he faced, Dane De La Rosa tossed 2.1 shutout innings to seal the ballgame as the Bulls came away with a 1-0 win. The Bulls are still just 15-24 on the season, but they won back-to-back away games for the first time all season and we’re still hoping they’re starting something- although so many of their players getting called up to the big leagues won’t help.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 2
The best players come through when it matters most- what a clique line. But on Monday night in Montgomery, it happened to be true. Biscuits ace Shane Dyer allowed a Kyle Jensen solo homer in the 2nd inning, but that was it, literally. Dyer went 7 innings, allowing just that 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 5 while walking 1 and posted a 7-5 groundout to flyout ratio. He was on the top of his game and he had to be as Graham Taylor went 7 great innings for Jacksonville, allowing just 2 runs, 1 earned, both in the 4th inning. Omar Luna led off the inning with a single and Kyeong Kang doubled before both scored on an error two batters later to give the Biscuits the lead. But the Biscuits gave that run back in the top of the 9th as a Michael Sheridan throwing error with Adam Liberatore on the mound tied the game. But the Biscuits loaded the bases with 1 out in the 9th before Hak-Ju Lee came through with a walk-off RBI single as the Biscuits won 3-2. Lee had a big game, going 3 for 5 with his clutch hit, and Sheridan made up for his error with a 2 for 4 day with an RBI and the winning run on Lee’s hit. The Biscuits could not pull away in this one and let it go right down to the wire, but they came away with a win to improve to 19-20 on the season, just 1 win short of .500. With more clutch performances, they’ll get far beyond an even won-loss record.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 13, Ft. Myers Miracle (MIN) 1
Some days everything goes right. Monday was one of those days for the Stone Crabs. Grayson Garvin was sharp, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits in 5 innings, striking out 6 while walking 2 and forcing a 4-3 groundout to airout ratio. His offense gave him plenty of run support to back him up. Derek Dietrich had a huge day, going 3 for 5 with a homer, two triples, 3 RBI and 3 runs scored, and he was just one of 7 Stone Crabs with multi-hit days. Riccio Torrez went 2 for 4 with a homer and 2 RBI, and Mikie Mahtook went 2 for 3 with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored, raising his batting average all the way up to .287 after a rough start to the season. The craziest thing about the game was that Nate Garcia earned a save in this game despite the eventual 12-run cushion for the Stone Crabs, tossing 4 one-hit innings after coming in for a save situation, striking out 4 while walking none. Now that’s a save. The Stone Crabs improve to 18-20, and hopefully a satisfying win like this is jus the start.
Low-A Midwest League: Game 1: South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 2, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0 (7 innings)
It’s not fun to be 1-hit. Felipe Rivero had a downright excellent outing, going 5 innings allowing just 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1 and forcing a 5-1 groundout to flyout ratio. But Archie Bradley, the 6th overall pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2011 MLB Draft, was simply better. Bradley went 5 shutout innings, allowing just 1 hit, striking out 6 while walking 1, and forcing a 6-2 groundout to airout ratio. The only he allowed and the only hit the Hot Rods could manage was a Drew Vettleson double in the 4th. It was a tough loss for the Hot Rods, but luckily they had a second game in the doubleheader to assuage their frustration.
Game 2: Bowling Green Hot Rods 3, South Bend Silver Hawks 2 (7 innings)
Unlike the other minor league games and actually mildly similar to the MLB game, the Hot Rods had to piece together this game using three relievers. Well, it worked out. Trevor Shull allowed 2 runs, 1 earned in 3 innings, allowing just 1 hit but 3 walks and just 2 strikeouts. Jason Partridge would earn the win in the game, going 2 one-hit innings, striking out 1 and forcing a 3-1 groundout to flyout ratio. And Charlie Cononie closed it out with 2 perfect innings, striking out 3 and forcing 4 groundouts to not a single flyout. The Hot Rods were matched up against the Silver Hawks’ James Jeffrey Shields and got to him just enough. Jeff Malm went 2 for 3 with a solo homer and a double, and Ryan Brett manufactured 2 runs from the top of the lineup. In the 3rd inning, Brett walked, stole two bases, and scored on a wild pitch, and he laced on RBI single in the 5th that was the margin in the game. After the doubleheader split, the Hot Rods are 20-18 on the year and with their talented roster, any win could be the start of a run like we saw from the Hot Rods at the beginning of the season.