February 27, 2011; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Alex Torres (56) throws a pitch in the second inning during a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at McKechnie Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

The Undercards: Alex Torres Strikes Out 8 But Zulia Defense Crumbles Behind Him

Alex Torres thought he could contribute something to the Rays this season. He didn’t. The Rays thought they would be a good defensive team this season. At times this year, they may have been the worst in baseball. In any case, Torres got to experience a little bit of what it would have been like playing for the Rays when their defense had completely crumbled. But considering the scores of these Winter Ball games don’t really mean much, Torres has plenty more positives than negatives to take from his performance on Tuesday.

Venezuelan Winter League: Navegantes del Magallanes 9, Aguilas del Zulia 4

The score in the game doesn’t do justice to how well Alex Torres was pitching for Zulia. Making his second Zulia appearance after 3 shutout innings in his first start, Torres struck out 2 in each of the first 2 innings of the game, allowing just one baserunner, who reached on an error, and subsequently picking him off. Torres then struck out 2 of the first 3 batters he faced in the 3rd inning, allowing the other to reach on a walk. And then the Aguilas (which means Eagles in Spanish if anywhere cares) forgot how to field. Torres allowed a double to Darwin Perez, but Justin Henry delivered a perfect throw to get the runner trying to score only to see catcher Juan Apodaca fail to catch the ball to allow the run to score to make it 1-0 Navegantes (which means Navigators). Andres Blanco then hit a groundball up the middle than Yankees prospect Jose Pirela could not come up with cleanly, and then Pirela somehow let the ball get away from him to allow Blanco to go to second base. A wild pitch moved Blanco to 3rd base, where he scored after yet another error on a groundball to 3rd. Torres struck out the next batter and actually struck out the side in the inning, but what should have been another relatively easy frame turned into a disaster. Zulia’s bullpen collapsed, allowing a grand slam to Johermyn Chavez, to make the final score pretty lopsided despite a 3-run rally by the Aguilas in the 6th. Torres wound up going 3.2 innings allowing 3 runs, none earned, on just 2 hits, striking out 8 while walking 2. He has been dealing and it’s great to see him continue to pitch well after struggling for nearly all of 2012 with major control problems. Torres still has the ability to contribute in the major leagues for the Rays in 2013, and hopefully he has made real progress and can make that happen.

 Arizona Fall League: Phoenix Desert Dogs 3, Salt River Rafters 3 (11 innings)

Apparently the maximum number of innings allowed in the Arizona Fall League is 11 before the game is considered a tie. Good to know. The Phoenix bullpen blew a 3-1 lead to allow the game to get that for. Athletics prospect Yordy Cabrera slammed a 2-run homer in the top of the 2nd to make it 2-0 Phoenix before Salt River came back with an RBI single by the Blue Jays’ Sean Ochinko in the bottom half of the frame. The Desert Dogs restored their 2-run cushion on an RBI single by Marlins top prospect Christian Yelich in the 4th. Phoenix got 3 innings of 1-run ball from Braves prospect Zeke Spruill and a scoreless inning each from the Marlins’ Scott McGough and the Braves’ Ryan Buchter. But in the 6th, the Brewers’ Kyle Heckathorn struggled mightily, allowing 2 walks followed by 2 hits (one of which came as a runner was hit by a batted ball) while recording just 1 out to plate a run. Rays prospect C.J. Riefenhauser entered the game and allowed a sac fly to Rockies prospect Corey Dickerson to tie the game before escaping further trouble. Riefenhauser actually went 1.2 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts but picked bad timing for his only flyball out. Fellow Rays prospect Kirby Yates tossed a scoreless 8th, striking out 1 while working around a walk. Both teams failed to score after the 6th as the game ended as a 3-3 tie. The Desert Dogs’ double play combo was Rays prospects Hak-Ju Lee and Tim Beckham, who went a combined 1 for 9 with Lee singling and getting caught stealing. Hopefully those two can get going soon. The Rays final prospect in the game, Kevin Kiermaier, started in left field and continued his hot hitting, going 1 for 3 with a walk in the game, actually lowering his AFL batting average to .429. Nice to see Kiermaier and Riefenhauser playing well, and hopefully everyone else can get on track soon.

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Tags: Alex Torres C.J. Riefenuaser Kevin Kiermaier Tampa Bay Rays

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