One of the most frustrating things about baseball is how much the pitching matchup weighs into the final result. Anything can happen in any given game, but when you see the pitching matchup and see your team’s No. 5 starter is matched up against the other team’s ace, you know it’s going to be awfully hard to win that game. When you do steal such a contest, so often it’s because the ace simply had a bad game. But when your team’s pitcher rising up to the occasion and delivers a brilliant outing to match the opposing team’s No. 1 inning for inning and you find a way to win, that is a something special. Matched up against one of the best prospects in baseball on Sunday night, the Biscuits got to experience such satisfaction.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 14, Pawtucket Red Sox 13
Rays-Red Sox games are long enough to begin with. If the games are anything like this game between the two teams’ Triple-A affiliates, we are all going to be sick. There’s no point even talking about the Bulls’ pitchers–five pitchers took the mound and all of whom allowed a run–so let’s just skip to the offense. Red Sox prospect Allen Webster has gotten destroyed since the Red Sox tried him in the major leagues and this start was a continuation of that as he allowed 7 runs in just 1.1 innings pitched. Jason Bourgeois went 3 for 3 with a walk, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored, Tim Beckham both had 3 hits, a walk, and 2 runs scored, with Beckham lacing a double, Leslie Anderson and Jesus Flores both notched 2 hits and 3 RBI, with Anderson also scoring 2 runs, and Vince Belnome went 2 for 4 with 2 doubles, a walk, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. The Bulls nearly blew a 14-7 lead. Pretty clear that I am less than enthused about this game.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 2, Mobile BayBears (ARI) 1 (11 innings)
In this game, Kyeong Kang can legitimately say that he was the entire Biscuits offense and there’s no way to argue. This game was a pitchers’ duel through and through and both Biscuits runs came on Kang’s solo home runs. Wow. Not too many more impressive things than that–except for Victor Mateo in this game. Mateo was matched up against Diamondbacks top pitching prospect Archie Bradley, and Bradley has been absolutely unhittable this season, managing a 2.37 ERA in 13 Double-A starts entering Sunday. Mateo, meanwhile, has never been much of a prospect although he did enter the game on a bit of a roll. He had allowed no runs on just 3 hits in his previous two starts spanning 13 innings, including a 7-inning 1-hit shutout in his last game. And in this one, Mateo did everything in his power to keep Montgomery in this game. Bradley was dominant as usual, tossing 6 shutout innings allowing just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 8. But Mateo wasn’t too shabby himself. He did allow a run to cross in the 4th inning, but that was it as he went 8 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. It tells you everything you need to know for the future that Mateo’s ERA stands at just 4.97 while Bradley’s is now at 2.20. But for one game, they were essentially equals.
It would have been criminal for Mateo to take the loss after just how well he pitched, and the Biscuits sent out the one-man task-force of Kyeong Kang to make sure that would not be the case. Kang tied the game in the 7th on a solo home run off of Matt Gorgen to tie the game at 1. And then in the 11th, Kang sent the Biscuits to victory with a go-ahead home run as the Biscuits won 2-1. The Biscuits went just 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and stranded 8 men on base in the game. But Kang’s heroics turned out to make all the difference. Unfortunately, Mateo could not get the victory, but Kang did everything he could.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 9, Dunedin Blue Jays 6
This was far from the crispest win for the Stone Crabs, but it was their 5th in a row and they looked about as good as ever. Jesse Hahn had one of his few bad starts, allowing 3 in 2 innings of work, but Andrew Bellatti certainly did his part splitting the start, going 5 innings allowing just an unearned run on 3 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. An early season promotion from High-A to Double-A after spending last year at Low-A turned out to be disastrous, but Bellatti has been excellent in his 13 games for Charlotte, managing a 2.81 ERA and a 31-12 K-BB ratio in 32 innings. The excitement continued on the offensive side. Ryan Brett went 4 for 5 with a stolen base, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, Richie Shaffer continued hitting like everyone knows he can, going 2 for 5 with a homer, a double, and 3 RBI, and Drew Vettleson, Willie Argo, and Alejandro Segovia all had 2 hits, a double, and an RBI, with Vettleson and Argo also stealing a base each. Brett has just been insane ever since returning from his suspension, managing a .349/.402/.491 line with 19 stolen bases in 23 attempts in 42 games.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU) 9, Hudson Valley Renegades 3
What a game for Darryl George. He accomplished something that has been accomplished just once at the major league level: notching 4 hits in a game that he started as a position player and also pitched in. Unfortunately, George was one of the few highlights as the Renegades got blown out on Sunday. Eli Echarry made his first start of the year following 7 relief appearances and it did not go very well as he allowed 4 runs, 2 earned, in 4.1 innings pitched. Some more ineffective pitching by the relief corps brought George, a corner infielder by the trade, to the mound for the second time this season. George retired both batters he faced to culminate quite a day. George went 4 for 4 with a run scored, raising his average to .313 in the process. George hasn’t hit for any power this year, but he has paired his average with a .396 OBP and has also showed just a tiny bit of the promise on the mound that made him a prospect there as well. Jonathan Quinonez also notched 4 hits, going 4 for 5 with an RBI to raise his average to .337 in 25 games. So two 4-hit games and a blowout loss. Don’t see that every day. Ty Young and James Harris also notched multiple hits in the loss for the Renegades.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Kingsford Mets 8, Princeton Rays 1
We try to stay positive here at RCG, but no more dancing around it: this Princeton Rays team is undeniable horrific. For whatever reason, most of the talent in Short Season ball this year is with the Renegades or GCL Rays and this P-Rays team is just terrible. This lost dropped them to just 6-23 on the year, the worst record in the Appy League. Jorge Rodriguez got the start and forced some groundballs but certainly didn’t do well. He went 4.2 innings allowing 4 runs on 7 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. His grondout to flyout ratio was 5-2. Oscar Armenta followed with more of the same, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits in 3.1 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1 and managing a 4-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Stepan Havlicek allowed an unearned run in the 9th to finish the game. On offense, Wilmer Dominguez went 2 for 3 with the only RBI. He’s the sole player orth mentioning. Let’s instead talk about Mets starter Chris Flexen, who went 7 shutout innings allowing just 3 hits, striking out 11 while walking 1.