In advance of the Rays taking on James Shields on Tuesday, the Durham Bulls faced fellow ex-Ray Wil Rhymes on Monday. Fine, that comparison doesn’t really work. But even as the Rays were off Monday, there was plenty of exciting baseball played at the other levels of their organization.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Syracuse Chiefs (WSN) 0
So far in 2012, Jake Odorizzi has been extremely hit-or-miss, looking great in his two good games entering Monday while struggling mightily in the other two. Hopefully Odorizzi can get his season more even-keeled moving forward, but in any event, he was great versus the Chiefs. Odorizzi labored to throw 91 pitches through 5 innings, but his results were excellent as he went 5 innings allowing no runs on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking none. Odorizzi’s strikeout to walk ratio on the season stands at an unbelievable 36-9 in 27 innings pitched, and while he needs to continue working on keeping the ball down in the zone, he has the ability to be a really good pitcher in the major leagues and soon. Frank De Los Santos and Steve Geltz finished the game for Durham, allowing just 1 hit in their 4 innings while striking out 4. Geltz walked 3 batters across 2 innings in his first appearance of the season and has walked just 2 versus 20 strikeouts in the 20.2 innings since. On the offensive side, Chris Gimenez and Leslie Anderson had big games for the Bulls, with Gimenez going 3 for 5 with a double and 2 runs scored and Anderson going 2 for 4 with 2 doubles, a walk (yay!), and a run scored, but it was Cole Figueroa who came up with a big 2-run double in the 6th to ice the game for Durham. Great to see Odorizzi and the Bulls’ arms going strong, and the lineup gave them a strong effort as well to tie together a strong game.
Double-A Southern League: Birmingham Barons (CHW) 5, Montgomery Biscuits 2
Unfortunate game in this one as Victor Mateo pitched very well before allowing a 6th inning grand slam that made all the difference in the Biscuits’ 5-2 loss. Mateo wound up going 5+ innings allowing 4 runs on 8 hits, striking out 2 while walking 2. Matt Nevarez did look great behind him, tossing two 1-hit innings striking out 2 and forcing 3 groundouts. On the offensive side, the Biscuits just managed 3 hits all game, with Kyeong Kang‘s solo home run in the 2nd inning representing the only extra-base knock. Mikie Mahtook and Robi Estrada has the other 2 hits as Montgomery had themselves an awfully hard time with Stephen McCray and the Barons and hope to get better luck next time around.
High-A Florida State League: Lakeland Flying Tigers 12, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3
Lopsided score in this one, but the Stone Crabs still had several highlights to draw from. Roberto Gomez was terrible, allowing 6 runs on 9 hits in 4 innings, and Jacob Partridge was far worse, allowing 5 runs in just 1 inning of work, but the Stone Crabs held Lakeland to just 4 runs in last 2 innings. Bruedlin Suero tossed 2 shutout innings with a strikeout and Shay Crawford later finished the game with a perfect inning in the 9th, striking out 1. The lefty Crawford has a 1.13 ERA in 8 IP so far in 2013. Then there was the Charlotte bats. This game became much more positive in the 8th inning when Richie Shaffer slammed a 2-run home run. Shaffer went 2 for 4 with his homer in the game, and he’s hitting just .213 on the season but is slowly but surely breaking out of his early-season slump. Brett Nommensen went 3 for 4 with a stolen base for Charlotte while Ryan McChesney, making his season debut, went 1 for 2. McChesney, signed by the Rays as a non-drafted free agent last year, is getting an opportunity with Luke Bailey on the DL, and good luck to him making the most of it.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, Peoria Chiefs (STL) 3 (11 innings)
Wins don’t get much better than this for the Hot Rods as they rallied to tie the game in both the 8th and 9th before winning it in the 11th. Taylor Guerrieri got the start for Bowling Green with the training wheels off for the second straight start, and this time he was dominant. Guerrieri went 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1 and managing a 9-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Guerrieri finally let up his first homer of the season in his 5th start, but the Chiefs still could not beat him. The final 6 innings of the game were pretty incredible for Bowling Green as four pitchers combined to allow just 1 run, striking out 10 in the process to give the Hot Rods 15 for the game. Reinaldo Lopez struck out the side in the 6th while Marcus Jensen tossed 2 shutout innings with 2 more K’s for the win. In terms of the run support, the Hot Rods finally got on the board in the 5th on a Tommy Coyle RBI double to make it 2-1 game, and in the 8th they finally tied it up, getting a pair of hits before Marty Gantt tied the game with a sac fly. The Chiefs went ahead in the top of the 9th, but the Hot Rods came right back with a gutsy RBI bunt single to send the game into extra innings. And in the 11th, Andrew Toles sealed the deal with a walk-off single as Bowling Green won 4-3. Toles had a huge game, going 3 for 6 with a double, an RBI, and his 11th stolen base of the season already, Coyle also went 3 for 6 with a double and an RBI, Rickard wen 2 for 3 with 3 walks, an RBI, and a run scored, and Leonardo Reginatto went 3 for 5 wtih a double and 2 runs scored. Tyler Goeddel has been out for the Hot Rods with the dreaded hamstring injury, especially devastating because he was on fire when he went down, but the Hot Rods have found a way to keep going and should only be better when he gets back.