When David Price went down his triceps injury, every Rays fan’s first thought had to be to Chris Archer. Instead, the Rays went with Jake Odorizzi as Archer was still recovering from an injury of his own, a calf contusion. At this point, though, it looks like Archer is just fine and will be challenging for a big league spot again in the very near future.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 3, Norfolk Tides (BAL) 2
From the start of this one, it seemed like something special was in the air for Chris Archer. Archer slowly but surely wore down as his pitch count got up, but nevertheless he delivered a great outing reminding Rays fans just how talented he is even if his next big league chance will have to wait. Archer allowed a flyball to center off the bat of Xavier Avery, but he breezed by the next five hitters, retiring three via the strikeout and the other two on the ground. His command began to depart in the 3rd inning as he got two flyouts sandwiched around a strikeout, but after a strikeout and two groundouts in the 4th, Archer had retired 12 in a row to begin the game. Archer’s perfect game bid ended when he walked L.J. Hoes with 2 outs in the 5th, but that was only the start. Brandon Wood began the 6th inning with a solo home run, and not only was the no-hit bid over but now the score was 2-1 in the game. But even as he quickly began to tire out, Archer found a way to get out of the inning, working his way around a pair of hits to keep the Tides from drawing any closer. Archer had an excellent outing, going 6 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. He was extremely efficient, throwing just 81 pitches, 52 strikes, and it’s a little alarming that even with his pitch count so low he still wore down. However, Archer showed dominance at the beginning of his outing and heart at the end, and once he builds his arm strength back up, the Rays may have no choice but to find him a spot on their big league roster.
Of more immediate big league concern for the Rays could be outfielders Wil Myers and Brandon Guyer after Matt Joyce left Tuesday’s Rays game with hamstring tightness. But if anyone is getting called up, it’s unlikely to be either of them. Myers went 0 for 4 with a walk in this one while Guyer went 0 for 3 with a walk. Neither has great numbers on the season, with Myers putting up a .250/.350/.382 line while Guyer’s line is at .242/.338/.406, although Guyer does have a .270/.372/.432 line in his last 10 games. Guyer has an obvious edge for a potential call-up because he’s on the 40-man roster, but if the Rays were going to call up their best available outfielder, it would probably be Jason Bourgeois, who went 2 for 3 with a double, walk, a stolen base, and 2 runs scored in this one and is hitting to a .312/.362/.428 line with 10 stolen bases and 30 RBI in 35 games. Rich Thompson, Vince Belnome, and Mike Fontenot also had multi-hit games in this one for Durham, but the most impressive performance of the game might have been Craig Albernaz, who did a great job catching Archer, went 1 for 4 at the plate, and then did an incredible job picking a runner of 2nd base to prevent a tough 7th inning from getting worse for Cory Wade. Archer’s performance was certainly the take-away from this one, but great to see several members of the Bulls offense playing well with the possibility of a big league call-up in play for someone should Joyce hit the DL.
Double-A Southern League: Huntsville Stars (MIL) 11, Montgomery Biscuits 7
Biscuits pitching got destroyed in this one, but the offense had a great game, led by Cameron Seitzer, who is suddenly red-hot again. Victor Mateo kept the Stars off the board in the bottom of the 3rd–that would be the only inning they wouldn’t score the rest of the game other than the bottom of the 9th, which did not happen. Mateo allowed 5 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits in 5 innings before Neil Schenk and Andrew Bellatti allowed a run each in their innings of work. Then Braulio Lara allowed 4 runs in the 8th, including the second home run of the game by Jason Rodgers, a 3-run shot. Let’s head to the offense now, which was much more positive. Seitzer came up big, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, a walk, and an RBI and a run scored. He was slumping for a while after his incredible start to the season, but now he’s 9 for his last 22 (.409) and he may be on his way to another hot streak. Kevin Kiermaier went 1 for 3 with 2 walks, a stolen base, and 3 runs scored while Shawn O’Malley went 1 for 3 with a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored as the Biscuits’ lineup did great but it wasn’t nearly enough.
High-A Florida State League Game 1: Charlotte Stone Crabs 4, Clearwater Threshers (PHI) 2 (7 innings)
The Stone Crabs played a doubleheader on Tuesday to make up for a Monday rainout, and if they were going to have to play two, they could not have picked a better rotation spot to be in line to start. Jesse Hahn and Jake Floethe have been splitting starts for Charlotte all season, and the Stone Crabs were able to just start Hahn in Game 1 and Floethe in Game 2 to get through this doubleheader without any problem. In this game, Hahn was absolutely dominant. Going 4 innings for the second straight outing as the Stone Crabs are beginning to take the training wheels off of him, Hahn was a little more hittable than usual, allowing 4 hits, but he struck out 4 and recorded 7 of his other 8 outs on the ground. The other out came on a Drew Vettleson outfield assist. In 9 starts, Hahn has a 0.96 ERA, striking out 29 while walking just 5 and managing a 2.80 groundout to airout ratio in 28 innings pitched. Eliazer Suero allowed a pair of runs to cross in the 6th, but Nate Garcia struck out 2 in a perfect 9th to nail down the save. Garcia’s ERA on the season is an ugly 6.05, but he has tossed perfect ball in his last two appearances, shutout ball in his last three, and has a 9-1 strikeout to walk ratio in his last five. In terms of the run support, Hector Guevara went 2 for 3 with a double, a stolen base, 2 RBI, and a run scored, and Willie Argo went 1 for 3 with a 2-run double. Vettleson also capped his strong defensive game by going 1 for 3 with a double and a run scored. Vettleson started off the year incredibly slowly, but he has a .361/.452/.583 line in his last 40 plate appearances as he is really hitting his stride.
Game 2: Stone Crabs 3, Threshers 1
Floethe wasn’t nearly as dominant as Floethe, but he combined with Chris Kirsch to hold Clearwater to just 1 run in 7 innings as the Stone Crabs swept the doubleheader. Floethe went 4.2 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 4. Flothe’s control certainly was not at its best, but he was still able to do a nice job forcing weak contact on the ground, managing a 7-2 groundout to flyout ratio to help him pitch as well as he did. Tossing the game’s final 2.1 innings was Kirsch, who made his season debut for Charlotte after debuting as a professional with Advanced Rookie Princeton last year and beginning this season in extended spring training. Kirsch went 2.1 innings allowing just 1 hit, striking out 1 while walking 1, as he acquainted himself quite well to full-season ball despite skipping the Low-A level. With a fastball touching 94 MPH and an assortment of secondary pitches, Kirsch has the ability to be an impressive pitcher, and hopefully this outing can spur him to a strong season. On the offensive side, Kes Carter delivered a 2-out, 3-run triple in the 2nd inning to account for all three of the Stone Crabs’ runs and provide Charlotte with all the runs they would need thanks to the strong performances of Floethe and Kirsch.