In the minor leagues, it’s always nice when your team wins. But it’s the individual performances that matter most. That is especially the case when a big league player rehabs an injury in the minors. On Saturday, the Rays got to see both their affiliates win and several outstanding individual performances. Unfortunately, the injury that their one rehabbing big leaguer, Jeff Niemann, suffered took the edge of a great all-around day.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Norfolk Tides (BAL) 3
Real mixed bag here as the Bulls got great games from Reid Brignac and Sean Rodriguez along with a trio of relievers, but Niemann’s injury had to sting. Niemann went 4 innings for the Bulls and was not exactly sharp, going 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out just 1 while walking 2 and allowing a leadoff homer to Orioles prospect Xavier Avery. His groundout to flyout ratio was 6-3. But the final out he recorded was a costly one as Avery’s line drive hit off the back of Niemann’s pitching hand before he recovered to record the out. Niemann had this to say on the injury to the Durham Examiner’s Mike Potter.
“(The line drive) got my hand around the top of the pinky. It’s pretty sore right now, but we got great news because there’s no break, no fracture. It’s tough to deal with, but that’s the best news we can get.”
Hopefully Niemann will be OK, but as long as this injury doesn’t sideline him for too long, it’s actually a lucky bounce for the Rays. Niemann began his minor league rehab assignment on August 8th and the rehab assignments are only allowed to be 20 days, so the Rays would have needed to make a decision on Niemann on August 27th, four days before rosters expand on September 1st. Now, the Rays won’t have to worry about that. I actually predicted that something like this would happen, but you have to hope that Niemann won’t miss more than a few days and will still be able to help the Rays in September.
Back to the game. The Bulls were down 3-0 to Norfolk after 3 and a 1/2 innings, but they got a run in the bottom of the 4th on a Leslie Anderson RBI double before rallying to take the lead in the 5th on a Jesus Feliciano RBI single and a 2-run double by Sean Rodriguez. Also in the 5th, in the top half of the inning, Cole Figueroa, who also doubled leading off the bottom half, made a nice play to end the inning.
A passed ball scored a 5th Bulls run in the 7th as they won 5-3. Ryan Reid, Frank De Los Santos, and Dane De La Rosa combined for 5 innings of scoreless relief to end the game, with DDLR notching his 19th save of the season. Rodriguez and Brignac, starting in the same lineup for the first time since April 17th, each played well, with Rodriguez going 1 for 2 with his big 2-run double, a walk, and a run scored, and Brignac going 1 for 2 with 2 walks, a stolen base, and a run scored.
Double-A Southern League: Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 9, Montgomery Biscuits 6
This was a very tough loss for the Biscuits as they blew a 6-2 lead after 2 innings. Shane Dyer got plastered, although his defense didn’t do him any favors, as he allowed 6 runs, 3 earned, in 2.2 innings, although he did strike out 2 while walking 1 and posting a 3-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Marquis Fleming did follow with 2.1 great relief innings, allowing just a hit while striking out 4, before Neil Schenk tossed shutout ball in the 2 frames after that, but Chris Rearick collapsed in the 8th, allowing 3 runs. Rearick has had a tough time in his last 3 outings, allowing a combined 7 runs on 9 hits in 3.2 innings. Ty Morrison did go 3 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored for Montgomery, while Mikie Mahtook went 2 for 5 with a stolen base, and Shawn O’Malley went 2 for 4 with a walk and a runs scored.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, St. Lucie Mets 1 (12 innings)
The Stone Crabs got outstanding pitching and Todd Glaesmann was as good as it gets in the clutch as Charlotte came away with a scintillating 2-1, 12-inning win. Eliazer Suero went the first 4.1 innings for the Stone Crabs and pitched pretty well, allowing just a 2nd inning run on a wild pitch. Overall, he allowed just the one run on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 3 and posting a 7-4 groundout to flyout ratio. Theron Geith followed with 2.1 shutout innings before Matt Nevarez continued his incredible pitching since signing with the Rays organization by tossing perfect ball over the next 1.1 innings to keep the Stone Crabs down 1-0 entering the 9th inning. Chase Huchingson, the St. Lucie starter, allowed just 1 hit in the first 8 innings and was going for the complete game shutout. Huchingson retired 23 of 24 after a Robby Price singled to begin the game, with the only blemish being an Aderlin Rodriguez error that allowed Riccio Torrez to reach. But Hector Guevara finally got the Stone Crabs’ second hit of the game, singling to begin the inning. Robi Estrada bunted his to 2nd, but then Robby Price grounded out, advancing Guevara to 3rd, and the Stone Crabs were down to their final out. But Kevin Kiermaier drew a walk, Huchingson’s first of the game, and the Stone Crabs were still alive. And Todd Glaesmann took advantage, coming up with a clutch RBI single to tie the game at 1. Huchingson went 8.2 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1 and posting a ridiculous 15-6 groundout to flyout ratio. But Charlotte got him in the 9th to keep the game going. Matt Nevarez tossed a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the 9th and wound up going 2.1 perfect innings, striking out 3. He now has a 0.57 ERA in 9 appearances and 15.2 IP for the Stone Crabs, striking out 18 while walking just 2. In extra innings, George Jensen tossed shutout innings in the 10th and 11th for Charlotte while Adam Kolarek and Jeffrey Walters did the same for St. Lucie. But in the 12th, Todd Glaesmann led off the inning with a solo homer off of Walters, and Jensen nailed down his own win by working around a walk in the bottom of the 12th as the Stone Crabs won the hard-fought game 2-1. Jensen struck out 3 while walking just 1 in his 3 innings for the win, while Glaesmann went 2 for 5 with the 2 being as clutch as hits come.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 10, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 6
After the meth suspensions, the Hot Rods had to call for reinforcements from the Rays’ short-season teams. Those players, right-hander Sean Bierman and infielder Ben Kline, came up big for Bowling Green on Saturday as they beat South Bend 10-6. Bierman started and pitched very well over 5 innings for the Hot Rods, allowing 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1 and posting a near-perfect 9-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Unfortunately, the 1 run came on one of the few flyballs he allowed, a Brian Billegen solo home run. The bullpen collapsed behind Bierman, but luckily the Hot Rods’ offense had itself a day. Kes Carter went 2 for 4 with a solo homer, a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored, Kline went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, Juniel Querecuto had a 2-run single, Taylor Motter went 1 for 3 with a solo homer, his 21st stolen base of the season, and 2 runs scored, Jake Hager went 1 for 3 with 2 walks, his 14 steal, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Jeff Malm and Cameron Seitzer both had mult-hit days as well.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 2, Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 1 (11 innings)
The Renegades came back from a 5-run inning by Aberdeen with a 5-run inning of their own and eventually went this game in 11 innings. Eduar Quinonez had allowed just 1 run through 4 innings before imploding in the 5th. He wound up going 4.2 innings allowing 6 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2 and posting a 7-4 groundout to flyout ratio. The big blow against him was a 3-run homer by Creede Simpson. After the catastrophic top of the 5th, the Renegades went back at it in the bottom of the inning and were able to come up with some magic of their own. Joey Rickard walked to start the inning against Brady Wager before Tommy Coyle, Richie Shaffer, and Luke Maile strung together singles to plate 2 runs, and Ryan Dunn drilled a double to make it 4 runs in the inning before scoring later in the inning on a Sander Beck wild pitch to tie the game at 6. That was it for the scoring for quite a while as Jordan Harrison and Dylan Floro tossed the next 5 innings scoreless for Hudson Valley and Beck, Josh Hader, and Bennett Parry did the same for Aberdeen to take the game to the 11th. But after Marcus Jensen tossed the top of the inning scoreless for the Renegades, Charles Epperson singled, stole second base, advanced to 3rd on an error, and scored on a Coyle sac fly as the Renegades won 7-6. Shaffer went 3 for 4 with a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored, and Coyle and Dunn both went 2 for 5. Joey Rickard also stole his 10th base of the season for Hudson Valley.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 4, Bristol White Sox 3
The P-Rays got nice pitching and a 4-hit day by Willie Argo as they came away with a 4-3 win. Alex Keudell started for Princeton and went 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out just 3 while walking 2 but posting a 10-2 groundout to flyout ratio. He departed with a 3-2 lead on an Oscar Hernandez sac fly, a John Alexander RBI double, and a Daniel Duran RBI double, but the White Sox tied it in the 7th on a Jake Brown RBI single off of Randy Davis. But the P-Rays struck back in the bottom of the inning as Julian Morillo tripled and scored on a wild pitch, and Davis and Nick Sawyer tossed the final 2 innings scoreless as Princeton won 4-3. Sawyer struck out 4 of the 5 batters he faced as he nailed down his 5th save of the season and lowered his ERA at Princeton to 0.40. Argo had a huge day, going 4 for 4 with his 17th stolen base of the season and 2 runs scored, Duran went 2 for 3 with 2 doubles, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and John Alexander went 1 for 3 with a double, an RBI, and his 5th stolen base of the season.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 4, GCL Orioles 3
Yoel Araujo, who we just talked about yesterday, had a big game as the GCL Rays beat the GCL Orioles 4-3. Luis Cabrera got the start for the Rookie Rays and pitched pretty well, allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 3 but posting a 7-2 groundout to flyout ratio. RBI singles by Araujo and Clayton Henning along with a bases-loaded walk by Spencer Edwards gave the Rays a 3-1 lead after 4, and Matthew Ramsey and Alex Moshier held that league into the 6th. But Stepan Havlicek saw his control and defense desert him as the Orioles tied the game in 7th. But Havlicek in the 8th, and then Nolan Gannon in the 9th kept the game tied before Araujo ended it on a walk-off single as the Rookie Rays won 4-3. Araujo went 3 for 5 with a double and 2 RBI for the Rays while Edwards had a very encouraging day, going just 0 for 2, but drawing 3 walks and driving in a run.