The Undercards: Tim Beckham, Cole Figueroa Impress as Bulls Edge Mud Hens

There is no conceivable way that Tim Beckham will end up becoming superstar the Rays thought he would be when they selected him first overall in the 2008 MLB Draft. If we grade Beckham by that standard, he has not lived up to expectations. At the same time, though, don’t let anyone tell you that Beckham can’t play. Beckham punctuated a hot streak with a huge game for the Durham Bulls as the Bulls edged the Mud Hens in quite a crazy game.

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 9, Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 8

A bullpen collapse made this game crazy at the end, but the Bulls’ offense had quite a night and Frank De Los Santos stepped up at the end to nail down the save as the Bulls got by Toledo 9-8. Jake Odorizzi started for Durham and had a rough game but managed to avoid disaster. He allowed 3 home runs in the first 2 innings, all solo shots, and then walked 3 batters in the 3rd, but he managed to toss shutout ball over his final 3 innings as he went 5 innings allowing 4 runs on 4 hits, striking out 5 while walking 4. As disaster starts, though, you can certainly do worse than that, and great composure by Odorizzi to battle when his stuff wasn’t fooling anyone. On the offensive side, the Bulls scored 4 in the first inning, and although Odorizzi gave those runs back, they were able to avoid the vintage Rays tendency of having one big inning and faltering the rest of the game and provide their pitchers with plenty of run support. They would need it all. Tim Beckham had a really nice game, going 1 for 3 with a a triple, 2 walks, a stolen base, and 2 RBI, Vince Belnome went 4 for 5 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and 3 runs scored. Cole Figueroa went 3 for 5 with a double and 3 RBI, and Wil Myers, Leslie Anderson, and Juan Apodaca also had multi-hit games. Lefties Jeff Beliveau and Adam Liberatore tossed shutout ball in the 6th and 7th as the game appeared to be out of reach at 9-4 after 7 innings, but Wil Inman allowed 4 runs in just two-thirds of an inning in the 8th to make it 9-8. But that was when De Los Santos, who had managed just a 7.27 ERA in his first 7 appearances of the season, came in and slammed the door, recording the final out of the inning before working around a hit in the 9th, as the Bulls won 9-8. In a slugfest like this, all the pitching you can get matters even more than usual, and the Bulls were able to limit the damage to a couple of bad innings while pitching strongly the rest of the way, and that made all the difference. Great offensive showing by Durham, and nice to see the pitching coming up big when it mattered most.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 5, Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 4

Another great finish in this one as it was tied 3-3 after 8 innings before the Biscuits scored 2 in the top of the 9th and survived a run in the bottom of the inning to win. Victor Mateo started for Montgomery and was decent overall, going 4.2 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 3 and walking 3 as well. He had tossed 4 shutout innings before coming apart in the 5th to put Montgomery down 3-2. But Mayo Acosta quickly tied it in the 6th on a solo home run, and 3.1 innings of shutout relief from Braulio Lara and Matt Nevarez got the Biscuits through 8. Then in the top of the 9th, Robi Estrada and Kevin Kiermaier singled to begin the inning and the Biscuits elected to bunt them to 2nd and 3rd. That immediately paid dividends as Mikie Mahtook hit a soft groundball that scored Shawn O’Malley, who had pinch-run for Estrada, and a throwing error brought in Kiermaier to make it 5-3. Juan Sandoval allowed a 1-out RBI single in the 9th that made it 5-4, but he buckled down from there to retire the next 2 hitters as the Biscuits won 5-4. Estrada and Kiermaier had nice games, with Estrada going 2 for 3 with a walk and Kiermaier going 2 for 5 with the key insurance run scored in the 9th, and Cameron Seitzer also went 1 for 3 with 2 walks and an RBI. The Biscuits’ rally wasn’t too flashy, but they took advantage of their opportunity and found their way to a satisfying victory.

Low-A Midwest League: Fort Wayne Tincaps (SDP) 3, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2

Blake Snell allowed 3 runs in the first inning and unfortunately the Hot Rods could not overcome that as they went 3-2. Snell has been dominant to begin the year but allowed 3 walks and 2 hits in the 1st before settling in. He went 4 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 3 and walking 3 as well. His groundout to flyout was also an impressive 5-0, but his control was off early on and it cost him. Reinaldo Lopez was incredible in relief of Snell, going 4 innings allowing just 2 hits and nothing else, striking out 1 and forcing 8 more outs on the ground. But it wasn’t enough as the Hot Rods managed just 2 runs on 4 hits in the game and blew the opportunities they did have, going just 1 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Tommy Coyle had a big game for Bowling Green, going 3 for 4 with a triple, 2 stolen bases, and a run scored, and Marty Gantt brought in both Hot Rods runs with another triple, but that was basically it. Tyler Goeddel did have an encouraging game as well, going 0 for 0 but with 3 walks and a stolen base of his own. In terms of stolen bases, Coyle ranks second in the Midwest League with 11, Andrew Toles, who walked and stole a base in this one, has 10, and Goeddel is tied for 5th with 7. Great to see the Hot Rods living up their nickname and their billing as members of the Rays organization by stealing so many bases. But it’s awfully hard to steal home, and they have to find a way to push some runs across with hits. Otherwise, they’ll be left contemplating what could have have been after a disheartening loss like this.

Topics: Cole Figueroa, Robi Estrada, Tampa Bay Rays, Tim Beckham, Tommy Coyle, Vince Belnome

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