Big news in the Rays system today was the season debut for Hideki Matsui at the Rays’ Triple-A Durham franchise. It was a big deal, not only because the Rays are going to see what Matsui has left and whether he can contribute to their ballclub, but also because 38 members of the Japanese media were in attendance in Durham. Unfortunately, Matsui’s first day did not go so well for Matsui and the Bulls.
Triple-A International League: Pawtucket Red Sox 8, Durham Bulls 2
There was excitement in the air for this game, but it was mostly gone pretty quickly. The Pawsox tagged Matt Torra for 3 runs in the 1st and 2 runs in the 2nd (including just the second homer of shortstop Jose Iglesias‘ pro career) and Matsui struck out in his first at-bat of the season. In the 4th, the Bulls finally got on the board, with Matt Mangini leading off against Pawtucket starter Brandon Duckworth. Matsui then hit a high flyball to deep right, but it fell just short, getting caught on the track. Leslie Anderson homered later in the inning to pull the Bulls within 5-2. Torra gave up another run before departing, giving way to Alex Torres. On this night, Torres pitched pretty well for the first time in a while. Torres went 4.1 innings, allowing 2 runs, both in the 9th, and impressively striking out 6 while walking none. It was the first time all year that he didn’t walk a batter in an outing, and it was his 9th outing of the year. Hopefully Torres has made some real strides. On the day, Matsui went 0 for 4. Matt Mangini did go 2 for 4 with his solo homer. It was a disappointing day for the Bulls as they dropped to 15-25 on the season, but there were some encouraging signs.
Double-A Southern League: Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 5, Montgomery Biscuits 4
Always terrible to blow a 9th inning lead. The Biscuits got a nice outing from Kyle Lobstein as he went 6 innings, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3 and posting a 5-3 groundout to flyout ratio. Tyler Bortnick went 3 for 4 with a homer, his first of the season, and 2 RBI, and Kyeong Kang went 2 for 4 with a double, a triple, and 2 runs scored. But the bullpen blew this one as Frank De Los Santos allowed 1 run in the 8th and Kirby Yates allowed 3 in the 9th and one 9th inning run wasn’t enough for the Biscuits as they fell 5-4. Coming into the game with a chance for a .500 record, the Biscuits fell to 19-21 on the season.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 3, Ft. Myers Miracle (MIN) 2
Enny Romero pitched well and the Stone Crabs came up with the go-ahead run in the 9th as they came away with a 3-2 win. Romero didn’t dominate like we know he can but he battled and came away with a nice outing, allowing 7 hits in 6 innings but holding the Miracle to 2 runs, striking out 4 while walking 2 and posting an 8-4 groundout to flyout ratio. The Stone Crabs got a Hector Guevara RBI double in the 1st and a Steven Tinoco sac fly in the 4th to take a 2-1 lead before a Daniel Santana triple and a Levi Michael sac fly tied the game at 2. But after getting 2 shutout innings from Victor Mateo and C.J. Riefenhauser, the Stone Crabs came up with a Mikie Mahtook double, a Riccio Torrez single, and a Phil Wunderlich RBI groundout to go ahead 3-2, and Chris Rearick nailed down the save in the 9th as the Stone Crabs improved to 18-19 on the season.Tinoco went 2 for 3 and Wunderlich went 2 for 4, and both got big RBI’s in one of the plate appearances where they didn’t get a hit.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 5, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 4
The Hot Rods fell behind 2-0 in this game before rallying for 5 runs and holding on to win 5-4. Ryan Carpenter pitched well again, going 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking none although his groundout to flyout ratio was 4-5. The Hot Rods got solo homers from Drew Vettleson and Josh Sale and a 2 for 3 day with 2 doubles and 2 RBI from Jake Hager. The Hot Rods improve to 20-18 with the win.