Having major league players rehab for their team is a pretty nice gig for minor league affiliates, giving them the opportunity to possibly get a bump in attendance. One issue, though, is that the players are coming off injuries, and you never want to be there when a player suffers a setback or simply isn’t ready for game action. Despite having not one, but two big league pitchers on their team on Tuesday, the Stone Crabs had a lot to deal with on Tuesday. But despite it all, they found a way to win.
Triple-A International League: Gwinnett Braves 4, Durham Bulls 1
Jake Odorizzi may be suffering from some big league withdrawal. After posting a 1.71 ERA in his 4 starts back down in Durham after tossing 5.1 strong innings for the Rays on June 18th, Odorizzi has struggled in his last two starts. His start versus the Braves was certainly a step forward after his debacle in his last start, but Odorizzi’s tough start coupled with a nonexistent offense sent the Bulls to defeat. Odorizzi went 4 innings allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, on 7 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. He labored quite a bit, throwing 99 pitches, 60 strikes, in his 4 innings as he was simply off. Hopefully Odorizzi can get back on track in his next start–you never know when the Rays will come calling again. The Durham bullpen did have a nice game, with Adam Liberatore allowing just a hit in 2 shutout innings, Frank De Los Santos striking out 2 working around a hit in his scoreless frame, and Steve Geltz finishing the game with a perfect inning with a strikeout. De Los Santos has just a 5.49 ERA on the season, but in this game he finally showed the type of promise that landed him on the Rays’ 40-man roster prior the season. Cole Figueroa went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and the only run scored for the Bulls in the loss.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Dunedin Blue Jays 5
Alex Cobb made his first rehab start for the Stone Crabs in this one as he hopes to return to the Rays in early August. It lasted just two pitches. What happened? Luckily, it was far from the worst-case scenario, but it was a setback that will slow Cobb’s timetable for four or five days if not more. As Cobb told Marc Topkin, he had been dealing with a blister on his right index finger from his bullpen session on Sunday, and Cobb thought he could battle through it only to see it get sore as he warmed up for his rehab start. Cobb was excited to get on the mound and really wanted to give the game a go, but after a ball and a strike, he motioned to the dugout and walked off the field. Cobb was upset about how things had transpired, but still felt lucky to be where he is at in his rehab.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Cobb said. “I’m trying to look at it like, it could be worse, I could still not be pitching at all. … I’m going to go about it like I’m definitely still way ahead than where I should be.”
Cobb will continue his rehab when the blister heals, hopefully at the end of this week or early next week, and try to get his rehab right back on track. Cobb’s early departure didn’t just affect him and the Rays, though, but also this Stone Crabs team. Charlotte manager Brady Williams thought he could count on Cobb 4 innings of work but instead had to go the bullpen in the 1st inning. But Jacob Partridge was up to the task, going 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. Following Partridge was another rehabbing big leaguer, Brandon Gomes, but the Stone Crabs certainly went 0 for 2 in terms of their rehabbers having successful games. Gomes went just two-thirds of an inning allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, getting tagged for back-to-back home runs by K.C. Hobson and Marcus Knecht. It was nice that Gomes actually pitched, but he may be a while away from the major leagues himself. But Lenny Linsky did let the Stone Crabs pitching staff finish the game on a high note, going the final 3.1 innings working around 4 hits and 2 walks to toss shutout ball.
After Linsky’s efforts, the Stone Crabs trailed 5-2 entering the bottom of the 9th. But they had suffered enough frustration for one night and were primed to turn everything entirely around. Richie Shaffer led off the inning against Blake McFarland with a solo home run, and two batters later, Alejandro Segovia doubled. Willie Argo drew a walk to put the tying runs on base and Jake DePew drove them in, drilling a 2-run double to knot the game at 5 and advancing to third base on an error. It was Kes Carter who put the finishing touches on the comeback, drilling a walk-off sac fly to win the game for the Stone Crabs 6-5. Drew Vettleson also had a big game, going 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and his 9th outfield assist, and Segovia did more than just hit that double, going 2 for 3 with 2 runs scored. Tough game for the Rays as they saw two of their rehabbers have rough nights, but the Stone Crabs did just fine.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 4, Tri-City ValleyCats 3
Strong pitching by Kevin Brandt paired with some clutch hitting was enough for the Renegades to hold on to beat Tri-City. Brandt went 6 shutout innings allowing just 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2 and forcing an impressive 9-1 strikeout to walk ratio. Brandt has been incredible since coming to Hudson Valley from Charlotte, going 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA and a 34-9 strikeout to walk ratio in 8 games, 3 of which have been starts, and 32 innings pitched. Justin Choate, though, had a rough appearance, allowing 3 runs in his 3 innings and barely keeping it together to seal the Renegades’ win. On the offensive side, it was two of the Renegades’ lesser known hitters, Omar Narvaez and James Harris who racked up the four RBIs. Narvaez went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and a run scored while Harris went 0 for 3 but drove in 2 runs on groundballs. Johnny Field also went 1 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored. Certainly wasn’t the prettiest game, but great for the Renegades to find a way to win.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Pulaski Mariners 6, Princeton Rays 1
It was only the starting pitcher and the Hunters who had good games for the P-Rays in this one. Germen Marquez got the start and pitched well, going 5 shutout innings allowing 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 2. His strikeout to walk ratio was a stellar 7-2. Darren Fischer then got destroyed, allowing 4 runs in just an inning of work. But Hunter Wood did finish the game in solid fashion for Princeton, allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 2 hits in 3 innings of work, striking out 5 while walking 1. Wood has just a 6.49 ERA but a 17-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 15.1 innings pitched. We’ll have to see which proves to be more indicative of his ability. The other Hunter, Hunter Lockwood, also went 2 for 4, and Jesus Araiza went 2 for 4 with a run scored. At least not everyone was miserable in this game for the P-Rays.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 3, GCL Twins 1
This game could have been really lopsided if the GCL Rays didn’t go 2 for 18 with runners in scoring position, but good pitching combined with just enough offense made this a nice win nevertheless. Bruedlin Suero took the ball in an apparent rehab start and did much better than Cobb and Gomes, allowing just 1 hit in 2 innings while striking out 1. His groundout to walk ratio was a nice 3-1. Kind of funny to see Suero rehabbing in the GCL after he was pitching for Princeton just last season, but he had been at Charlotte before he got hurt. Jose Alonzo followed with more strong pitching, allowing 1 run on 3 hits in 4 innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. Eric Fredrick finished the game for his first career save, working around 4 hits with 2 strikeouts in his 3 shutout innings, forcing a 5-0 groundout to flyout ratio. On the offensive side, several GCL Rays impressed, with Clayton Henning going 2 for 4 with a triple and a run scored, Alexander Simon going 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, and Nick Ciuffo also going 2 for 4 to up his average to .274 in his pro debut. The story, though, has to be Taylor Hawkins. Hawkins came up just one home run short of the US High School record for home runs before signing with the Rays as a 12th round pick last year. After 124 professional plate appearances, Hawkins finally notched his first home run with a solo shot in the 3rd inning. May it be the first of many. This is one of those games where the individual performances look a lot better than the collective result, but can’t argue with that many big games to go along with a W.