Three walk-offs in one day. That’s some baseball that you want to see. From the big leagues down to A-ball Rays affiliates played riveting games. We saw exhilarating moments and players rising up the occasion and we saw disaster occur right before our eyes. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was as exciting as you’ll see and kept as all on the edge of our seats until the last possible moment.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 2, Jackson Generals (SEA) 1 (12 innings)
Evaluators across baseball know that Mariners prospect Danny Hultzen is one heck of a pitcher. They used to say the same about Rays prospect Joseph Cruz, but since then injuries and ineffectiveness have tossed him off the map. But on this night, observers saw one heck of a game from both pitchers. Hultzen allowed just 1 run on a 4th inning RBI double by Ryan Garko, going 6 innings allowing just 5 hits and the one run. He struck out an insane 12 while walking just 1. He was every bit on his game. But the same could be said of Cruz. Cruz turned in easily his best start of the season, going 6 shutout innings allowing no runs on just 1 hit, striking out 8 while walking 2. He did allow a 3-6 groundout to flyout ratio, but he was missing bats and forcing weak contact as he came through with the type of outing we thought we would see more often from him.
The Generals tied up the game in the 7th against Marquis Fleming on a Jesus Sucre RBI single, but both teams’ bullpens went on lockout after that. Frank De Los Santos and Kirby Yates tossed a shutout inning each and Bobby LaFromboise and Mauricio Robles tossed 3 scoreless in relief of Hultzen to get this game into extra-innings. Yates and Robles both tossed scoreless half-innings in the 10th.
What a spot it was for Zachary Quate. Quate, formerly the esteemed relief ace for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, had not appeared the entire season after an arm injury. His first appearance came in the 11th inning of Wednesday’s game. Quate got a couple quick outs to begin his outing and his season, but then two straight singles gave the Generals a chance to take the lead. But Quate forced a groundout to escape the jam. Yoervis Medina tossed a scoreless bottom of the 11th for Jackson, sending Quate back to the mound for the 12th. But Francisco Martinez led off with a single and moved to second base on a groundball. After Martinez moved to second on a sac bunt, Quate intentionally walked Nick Franklin. Quate then forced Denny Almonte to hit a groundball, but the only play was at first base as the Generals had secodn and third with 2 outs. Quate then walked Chris Petit to load the bases. But then Quate got Eric Campbell to ground out to Hak-Ju Lee and escape the jam. He was immediately rewarded for his efforts with a victory in the game. Michael Sheridan led off the bottom of the 12th for Montgomery against Medina and slammed a walk-off homer to right field as the Biscuits won 2-1 in a game dominated by pitching. Cruz was outstanding and the Biscuits got 6 shutout innings of relief. The Biscuits improve to 24-22 with their well-earned win.
High-A Florida State League: Brevard County Manatees (MIL) 12, Charlotte Stone Crabs 1
This game did not go well. Lefty C.J. Riefenhauser got destroyed, allowing 8 runs on 10 hits in just 3.2 innings, striking out 3 while walking 1. He wilted for 3 innings before collapsing in a 6-run 4th inning. Jimmy Nelson struck out 7 in 7 one-run innings for Brevard County. Phil Wunderlich went 2 for 3 and Mikie Mahtook continued his hot streak with a 2 for 4 game. The Stone Crabs fall to 22-23 on the year with this tough loss.
Low-A Midwest League: Great Lakes Loons (LAD) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 5
The Hot Rods might as well by a mirror image of the Rays. Fine, that’s debatable, but in this one they sure were. The Hot Rods’ defense had one of the worst games you will ever see, making 7 errors, enough to give away a 5-3 lead and this game. Jake Floethe pitched well for the Hot Rods, allowing 2 earned runs on 7 hits in 7 innings, striking out 6 while walking none and forcing a 10-3 groundout to flyout ratio. But he allowed 2 unearned runs and exited with just a 5-4 lead. Justin Woodall blew the game in the 8th before the game ended in the 9th with Austin Hubbard on the mound on a… an error by Hubbard on a sac bunt. Ughhhh. The Hot Rods are now 24-22 on the year. The Hot Rods had a bunch of stellar offensive performances in this game that went for naught. Tyler Goeddel went 1 for 3 with a 2-run homer, a walk, and his 10th stolen base of the season. Jake Hager went 3 for 4 with a steal and a run scored, Cameron Seitzer went 3 for 5 with a double and an RBI, and Matt Rice went 2 for 5 with an RBI. Drew Vettleson went 1 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, 2 runs scored, and the only great defensive play for the Hot Rods, his minor-leagues leading 12th outfield assist of the season.