As we all know by now, things were hectic in the Rays Republic and the entire baseball universe after the egregious blown call that ended Monday’s game. For the Rays’ minor league affiliates, though, it was business as usual: outstanding pitching and just enough offense to win.
Tripe-A International League: Durham Bulls 2, Gwinnett Braves 1
This game was a pitcher’s duel all the way, with the scoreboard still empty through 8 innings before two errors gave the Braves a run in the top of the 9th and another pivotal error gave the Bulls two more in the bottom half of the frame. Before all that, though, there was Jake Odorizzi, who was outstanding. Odorizzi went 6.2 shutout innings for Durham, allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8. He still has work to do on his command as his groundout to flyout ratio was just 3-6, but the Braves couldn’t do anything against him on Monday and before long Odorizzi could be right there with Chris Archer waiting for an opening on the Rays’ staff. The better-known player with whom the Rays acquired Odorizzi is, of course, Wil Myers, and he had a decent game, going 1 for 4 with the game-tying run scored in the 9th. Another top performer was Hak-Ju Lee, who went 0 for 1 with 2 walks and a stolen base, although he also made one of the big 9th inning errors. There was little offense to be found here as both teams managed just 4 hits, but the pitching stole the show between Odorizzi and Omar Poveda for Gwinnett (6 innings of 1-hit ball), and the Bulls found a way to win in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the 9th.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 5, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 1
Simply put, games don’t get much better than this one. Jake Thompson was incredible for Montgomery, going 6 innings allowing just an unearned run on 2 hits, striking out 7 while walking none. The three relievers behind him allowing just 1 hit while striking out 4 as Biscuits pitching finished off a 3-hitter with 11 strikeouts. Thompson is coming off a rough 2012 for Montgomery, but he made a key breakthrough getting a feel for his pitches and maybe this is the year it all comes together for him. The 2010 second round pick has been a forgotten man the past couple years, but a few more outing like this and he’ll be back on the big league radar before we know it. On offense, the Biscuits were quite formidable as well, with Todd Glaesmann, Mikie Mahtook, and Robby Price all homering and Robi Estrada going 2 for 3 with a triple and a stolen base. Gotta like your chances to win when your starting pitcher is overpowering and your bats give you three home runs.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 3
Best of luck to Low-A hitters going up against Taylor Guerrieri. The Rays’ top pitching prospect was untouchable in his season debut for Bowling Green, going 3 innings allowing just 1 hit, striking out 4 while walking none. Guerrieri managed a minuscule 1.04 ERA and a 45-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 52 innings at Short Season-A Hudson Valley last season, and armed with impeccable control of his fastball and a curveball and changeup that both could be plus pitches down the line, it just isn’t fair for his inexperienced opposition. No one will be surprised if Guerrieri is brought up to High-A Charlotte and maybe even gets a taste of Double-A Montgomery before the season ends. Eduar Quinonez allowed 3 runs in 4 innings of relief of Guerrieri, but Ryan Garton struck out the side in the 9th to cap off a 12-strikeout day for Hot Rods pitching without walking a single batter. It would have been terrible if despite all that the 3 runs were enough to give Lansing the game, but luckily it was not. Andrew Toles had quite a game for Bowling Green, going 2 for 4 with 2 triples, an RBI, and a run scored, and Joey Rickard also went 2 for 4 with a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored to lead the Hot Rods’ offense. Tommy Coyle didn’t have an official plate appearance but he still had a great game as well, going 0 for 0 with 4 walks, 2 stolen bases, and a run scored. He’s hitting just .250 on the young season but with a .478 OBP. Wow. The core of the Hudson Valley team that won the New York-Penn League championship last season is with Bowling Green now, and combining them with players like Toles from Princeton makes them a real candidate to come away with a championship once again.