Another Matsui headline? Get used to it. Any other Rays minor leaguer would need to hit 3 home runs or toss 6 no-hit innings to have a chance at a headline right now. Hideki Matsui is the big name, and especially with injuries depleting the Rays, he could become a critical player for them later this season. Nice to see him playing well in his second game in Durham on Wednesday.
Triple-A International League: Pawtucket Red Sox 5, Durham Bulls 4
Another winnable game slipped away for the Bulls because of shoddy relief work. The game got off to a very exciting start as the Bulls got back-to-back singles from Matt Mangini and Leslie Anderson against Pawsox starter Doug Mathis before Hideki Matsui got a hanging breaking ball and went to the opposite field with it, drilling a high flyball off the high outfield well in left field (the Blue Monster) for a 2-run double. MiLB.com has the video.
Lance Pendleton gave a run back for the Bulls before a Reid Brignac sac fly gave Durham a 3-1 lead. But in the 5th, Pendleton exited after a 1-out single by Jose Iglesias after laboring, tossing 88 pitches in just the 4.1 innings. In came Romulo Sanchez and he was immediately confronted by several players with big league experience for the Red Sox, and he completely faltered. Kevin Youkilis, currently rehabbing, slammed a double off the wall. And Lars Anderson followed with a 3-run blast to give the Pawsox a 4-3 lead. Sanchez escaped further damage only after allowing singles to Ryan Lavarnway and Josh Kroeger. The Bulls got a run back the following inning on a Leslie Anderson RBI single to tie the game. But John Gaub was saddled with a tough loss after Ryan Reid allowed his inherited runner from Gaub to score on a walk and a Che-Hsuan Lin RBI single as the Bulls lost 5-4. Matsui went 2 for 4 with his 2-run double, Anderson went 3 for 5 with an RBI, and Craig Albernaz went 2 for 3 with a double. But the Bulls simply could not execute in big moments, both in terms of their bullpen and with runners in scoring position as they went 2 for 12, and fell to just 15-26 on the season because of it.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 8, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 5 (10 innings)
The Biscuits played a wild one in Birmingham on Wednesday night but a 3-run 10th inning rally led them to a win. Joseph Cruz struck out 7 in 5 innings but allowed 4 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks. Neil Schenk allowed a 5th run in 2 innings of relief. Luckily, though, the Biscuits came through with some offense of their own. 5 through 9 in the order came up huge for the Biscuits, combining to go 10 for 22 with 7 RBI and 6 runs scored. Kyeong Kang went 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, a triple, 2 RBI, and a run scored while Tyler Bortnick (2 for 5) and Mark Thomas (3 for 5) each doubled and drove in 2 runs. Brad Coon, Thomas, and Ty Morrison came through with RBI singles in the 10th for the Biscuits as they took they lead. The rehabbing Jose Lobaton went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk for the Biscuits while Ryan Garko went 1 for 4 with a walk and a run scored in his first game with the team. Marquis Fleming went 2 shutout innings for the win in this one while Frank De Los Santos tossed a perfect bottom of the 10th for the save. The Biscuits improve to 20-21 with the win.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 3, Ft. Myers Miracle (MIN) 1
Three runs in the first two innings held up for Charlotte thanks to some excellent pitching. After scoring a first inning run on a wild pitch, Robi Estrada slammed a 2-run homer in the second to hand the Stone Crabs a 3-0 lead. Albert Suarez allowed a run in the third but that was all as he went 6 innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits. He was nowhere near overpowering, striking out 1 and walking 1 as well and posting a 9-7 groundout to flyout rate, but he got the job done. Jim Patterson followed with 4 strikeouts in 2 innings of shutout relief and Chris Rearick struck out 2 in the 9th for the save. Estrada went 2 for 3 with his homer and a double and Alejandro Torres went 2 for 4 with a run scored for the Stone Crabs. Charlotte improved to an even 19-19 thanks to their 4th win in their last 5 games.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, Dayton Dragons (CIN) 1
The Hot Rods turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead with a 3-run 6th inning, and great pitching held the Dragons in check as Bowling Green won 4-1. Four Hot Rods went 2 for 4 in the game, including Cameron Seitzer, who hit a go-ahead 2-run double in the big 6th inning (Ryan Brett, Jeff Malm, and Joel Caminero were the others). But the story of the game was the pitching. Roberto Gomez allowed just an unearned run in 6 innings, allowing just 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6, and Andrew Bellatti struck out 5 in 3 shutout innings for the save as the Hot Rods won 4-1. With their third straight win, the Hot Rods improve to 22-18 on the year.