On Sunday, the Rays beat the Yankees 3-1 in a highly-contested game. But while the contest between the two AL East rivals was quite exciting, it turned out to be the only game in the entire Rays organization that was not decided by 1 run. However, the fact that the games were quite exciting did not lead to the right type of results that you would hope for as Rays affiliate went just 1-5 in those 1-run games. If you’re going to lose, it’s better that it’s exciting, but losing two 14-inning games and a 13-inning game in one night was just a little too much.
Triple-A International League: Buffalo Bisons (TOR) 1, Durham Bulls 0 (14 innings)
Just as the Rays prepared to welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to Tropicana Field, the two teams’ Triple-A affiliates, the Bisons and the Bulls played the third game of a 4-game set in Buffalo. The Rays better hope that their fate diverges from the Bulls’ as the Bisons just registered their third win in the first three contests. This game proved to be an epic pitching duel, but it was the Bisons who finally came through with the game’s first run to send them to victory. Jake Odorizzi got the start for Durham coming off his strong big league performance, and he proceeded to look as dominant as he has been all season. He went 8 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1 and forcing an 11-2 groundout to flyout ratio. He threw just 94 pitches in his 8 innings, 63 strikes. It is awfully hard to find a pitcher throw better than that. And after Alex Colome struggled in his last start, we may see Odorizzi back in the major leagues to replace him, with Thursday’s off-day lining up perfectly for Odorizzi to make that start on regular rest. Josh Lueke and Kirby Yates followed Odorizzi with excellent performances of their own, each going 2 shutout innings working around a hit and a walk while striking out 2. But after Juan Sandoval tossed a scoreless 13th, a double followed by his own error gave the Bisons the walk-off win. Mike Fontenot and Vince Belnome each had 2 hits including a double in the loss. The Bulls went just 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position on the day.
Double-A Southern League: Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 4, Montgomery Biscuits 3 (14 innings)
A few more runs scored in this one, but the same exact result, a devastating 14-inning loss. Jake Floethe got the start for Montgomery and really struggled, going 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 5. But the Biscuits offense came back from an early 3-0 deficit to knot the game at 3, and the Montgomery bullpen took over for quite a while. Marquis Fleming allowed just a hit in 3 scoreless inning, striking out 3 and getting 4 more outs on the ground. Austin Hubbard followed with 3 more shutout frames, striking out 2 working around a hit and a walk. And then Braulio Lara kept it going with 2 more shutout innings, allowing a hit and striking out 1. But after Neil Schenk kept the Blue Wahoos off the board in the 13th, it was deja vu all over again in the 14th as a double followed by Schenk’s error won the game for Pensacola. How could not one, but two games end like that? Todd Glaesmann went 2 for 5 with a walk and 2 RBI in the game, also registered an outfield assist, and Robby Price and Kyeong Kang registered multi-hit games as well. The Biscuits were only marginally better than the Bulls, going 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position on their way to a demoralizing loss.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 5, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 4
If you play enough games, someone has to win, right? The Stone Crabs proved to be the lucky team as 3 runs in the 6th turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 advantage and that proved to be the final. Roberto Gomez had a rough start for Charlotte, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings of work, but the bullpen was much more effective in relief of him, with Lenny Linsky and Jacob Partridge tossing 4 shutout frames. Then there was the offense, with Alejandro Segovia going 2 for 4 with a homer, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Richie Shaffer going 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored. Shaffer managed to go 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 runs scored for the second straight game and keep the nice stretch he has managed of late going. He’s 7 for his last 20 (.350) with 4 doubles, a homer, 5 RBI, and 3 walks against 5 strikeouts. The Rays’ 2012 first rounder has finally begun to heat up. Great to see Shaffer hitting his stride and the Stone Crabs finding a way to win.
Low-A Midwest League: Lake County Captains (CLE) 4, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3
The first three games we talked about featured spectacular bullpen work, with the three teams not allowing a single earned run in 19 innings of work. Brace yourself–that was certainly not the case in the lower minors of the Rays system. Reinaldo Lopez got the start for Bowling Green and pitched well but didn’t get any favors from his defense as he got out of the game early. Lopez went 4.2 innings allowing 2 runs, neither earned, on 3 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2 and forcing a 9-1 groundout to flyout ratio. But Matthew Spann, who hadn’t allowed an earned run in his first three Bowling Green appearances spanning 9.1 IP, finally cracked in this one, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in 2.1 innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. Marcus Jensen‘s 2 shutout innings with 5 of his 6 outs coming on the ground proved to be too little too late. On the offensive side, the Hot Rods got a bunch of hits but few when it mattered, with Marty Gantt going 2 for 5 with a double, a stolen base, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, Justin O’Conner going 2 for 4 with a stolen base, and Andrew Toles and Thomas Coyle both going 2 for 5. The Hot Rods managed 11 hits but went just 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position, and pairing that with Spann’s ineffectiveness was enough for them to suffer their first loss of the Midwest League’s second half.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM) 4, Hudson Valley Renegades 3 (13 innings)
This one was the toughest loss of all as the Renegades saw their undefeated start to the season come crashing down thanks to a late bullpen collapse in the 8th and 9th and 1 more run to finish it in the 13th. Chris Kirsch got the nod for Hudson Valley and pitched well, going 5 innings allowing 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1 and managing a 7-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Jamie Schultz walked 3 in his 2 relief innings, but he didn’t allow a hit and managed shutout ball. However, Andrew Hanse struggled mightily in the 8th and 9th, allowing a run in each inning to send the game into extra innings. Derek Loera allowed just a hit in the 10th and 11th, but Kevin Brandt finally blew it in the 13 to send the Cyclones to victory. On the offensive side, the Renegades actually were a decent 3 for 9 with runners in scoring position, but just about everything came from three players: Oscar Hernandez, Ariel Soriano, and Jonathan Quinonez. That trio went 6 for 14–everyone else went 1 for 28 with a walk. Hernandez notched his second straight 3-hit game, going 3 for 4 with a double, a walk, 2 stolen bases, and 2 RBI and Soriano went 2 for 5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBI. Hernandez started the season just 0 for 9 and 2 for 18 but has really caught fire of late, and with their cleanup hitter surging, good things could very well be ahead for this Renegades team.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Burlington Royals 3, Princeton Rays 2
The Hot Rods and Renegades saw undefeated streaks get snapped, but you have to feel sorry for the P-Rays, who allowed 2 in the 9th to drop to 0-3 to begin the year. Jacob Faria gave Princeton a strong start, going 5 innings allowed just an unearned run on 5 hits, striking out 8 while walking 1. Oscar Armenta managed 2 shutout relief innings, but Luis Cabrera allowed 2 unearned runs in the 9th to send the P-Rays to another loss. In an appropriate gesture to their elders in the Rays system, all 3 unearned runs came off of pitcher errors. In terms of the offense, Travis Flores went 1 for 3 with a homer, a walk, and a stolen base, and David Garcia and Yoel Araujo both went 2 for 4, but going 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position was a losing proposition.