No matter how matter runs they are down by, you always want your team to go down swinging. It’s nice to build momentum, and if you’re lucky, you may just pull out an improbable victory. Rays affiliates refused to go down on Sunday and now Rays fans have to hope their team can rally as well.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 2
J.D. Martin had pitched great, but the Bulls had managed only an unearned run off of Zach Stewart and Martin couldn’t hold off the Knights forever. Martin allowed an RBI single to Steve Tolleson in the 6th, and after Martin departed with 2 on and 2 outs in the 7th, an Adam Heiser single off of Jeff Beliveau put Durham down 2-1 and Martin in line for the loss. But after their ace had pitched so well once again, the Bulls refused to let that be the game ended. With 1 out in the 9th, Leslie Anderson singled before Shelley Duncan drilled a double to move the tying run to third base. After Mike Fontenot was hit by a pitch, Kevin Kiermaier tied the game with a sac fly. And then Chris Gimenez ended the game with an exclamation point, drilling a walk-off 3-run home run. Unfortunately, Martin could not earn his minor leagues-leading 15th game. But at least the Bulls found a way to win in dramatic fashion and make sure Martin’s efforts did not go to waste. Martin went 6.2 innings allowing just 2 runs, 1 earned, on 5 hits, striking out 6 while walking none. He lowered his ERA to 2.77 on the season and 2.08 in his last 14 starts, but that is far from the most impressive part. Martin’s no-walk game gave him 10 of 11 games with one walk or less, and he has walked two or less batters in 16 straight starts. Don’t think that Martin’s walks have come at the expense of strikeouts either as he has managed a strikeout to walk ratio better than 2-to-1 in 10 of his last 11 starts as well. Martin is truly having a magnificent season. While the Rays don’t have a spot for him right now, they will certainly wish him the best as he hopes to crack somebody’s rotation next season.
High-A Florida State League: Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 5, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3
Through 8 innings, the Charlotte Stone Crabs were getting no-hit. Zack Dodson kept them away from the hit column for the first 8 innings before Orlando Castro tossed a perfect 8th, and the Marauders were three outs away from a no-hitter. Jacob Partridge had pitched well for Charlotte, going 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2 and forcing a 5-1 groundout to flyout ratio, but the Stone Crabs had apparently admitted defeat after he left. Mario Fernandez had made the walk from the B-field to the Stone Crabs to give them an extra arm, but while the walk is not very far, he was a GCL pitcher who would be overmatched against High-A hitters. Unsurprisingly, he allowed 2 runs in the 6th inning, walking 3 and allowing a pair of wild pitches. Bruedlin Suero did pitch OK, tossing 2 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1, but with the score 5-0 Marauders, the Stone Crabs brought in position player Ben Kline to pitch the 9th. Improbably, he tossed a perfect inning, striking out 1, but how often do you expect to win a non-extra inning game in which a position player pitches? But nobody gave the Stone Crabs the memo that they were supposed to give up in the bottom of the 9th, setting up one of the craziest finishes you will ever see.
Willie Argo walked off Tyler Waldron to begin the inning before Jake Hager singled to break up the no-hitter. After everyone was safe on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Drew Vettleson, Richie Shaffer drilled a 2-run single to make it 5-2. Alejandro Segovia followed with an RBI single, and it was 5-3 with the tying runs on base. Robert Kilcrease entered the game for Bradenton, and the first thing he did was toss a wild pitch to make the tying run into scoring position. Then Jeff Malm hit a sinking liner to right field. Willy Garcia slid and made a diving catch before throwing to 2nd base to double up Hector Guevara, who had pinch-run for Segovia. And then Bradenton appealed to third base, believing that Shaffer had left the bag too early. Stone Crabs manager Brady Williams disputed the call after the game, but Shaffer was called out and the Marauders had won the game 5-3. They lost the no-hitter but somehow won the game with a triple play. Tough loss for the Stone Crabs, but they had refused to go down passively and kept the pressure on Bradenton until the last possible second.
Low-A Midwest League: Lake County Captains (CLE) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3
If you’re looking for the Jeremy Hellickson of the minor league system, the pitcher tantalizing us the most with his ability but unable to ever put it all together for an extended stretch, Blake Snell is the obvious answer. And like Hellickson for the Rays on Sunday night, Snell lost the Hot Rods this game. Snell lasted just 4.1 innings allowing 6 runs on 5 hits, striking out 5 and walking 5 as well. On the season, he is 3-8 with a 4.41 ERA, striking out 87 but walking 62 in 87.2 innings pitched. But at least behind Snell, the Hot Rods had some fight left in them. While Matthew Spann and Jose Alberto Molina combined to toss shutout ball for the last 3.2 innings, the Hot Rods got RBI singles by Luke Maile and Tommy Coyle in the 6th before Andrew Toles drilled an RBI single in the 9th. Toles had a big game, going 2 for 5 with a double and his 52nd steal on the season, and Coyle went 2 for 4 with his RBI and his 37th steal. Patrick Leonard also went 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored. Toles has showcased his tremendous talent all season, hitting .323 with his 52 steals and 14 triples, but he has also gotten caught 15 times and picked off 9 times. After starting the season with 38 steals in 42 attempts, Toles is just 14 of his last 24. Toles is all speed right now. The next step is to figure out how to refine it and truly become a great basestealer.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 6, Mahoning Valley Scrappers (CLE) 5
This game ended with the Renegades dugout fidgeting like crazy as they watched their bullpen nearly blow a 6-3 lead after the top of the 8th. But the Renegades did find a way to hold on, and the 5 runs they scored in the top of the 8th to come back from a 2-1 deficit may just get them going. Ben Griset pitched well for Hudson Valley once again, going 5 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out just 1 while walking 2 but forcing an 8-4 groundout to flyout ratio. Griset has been outstanding for the Renegades all season, managing a 3.35 ERA and a 38-7 strikeout to walk ratio in 10 starts and 45.2 innings pitched. Sunday’s start marked the first time all season that he didn’t manage a strikeout to walk ratio of at least 2-to-1. On the offensive side, Ty Young went 1 for 3 with a double, 2 RBI, a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored, and Johnny Field, Oscar Hernandez, Julian Ridings, and Granden Goetzman had the other RBIs for the Renegades.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 5, Pulaski Mariners 4
On the season, the Princeton Rays are just 14-36. Sunday’s game, though, was one of the few bright spots. Hunter Wood had a tough start for Princeton, allowing 3 runs in the first two innings, but he rebounded to go 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. He departed with the P-Rays down 3-2. Oscar Armenta followed with 2 shutout innings, and the Princeton offense vindicated his efforts in the 7th, with Travis Flores drilling a go-ahead 2-run homer. Armenta did allow a run in the bottom of the inning, but David Garcia laced an RBI single to put the P-Rays ahead for good. Armenta went 3 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1, forcing 5 groundouts and just 2 flyouts. Isaac Gil allowed just 1 hit in the final 2 innings, striking out 1, as he earned his 3rd save. At the plate, Flores’ homer was only one of his 3 hits on the day as he went 3 for 4, Hunter Lockwood went 2 for 4 with a triple, an RBI, and a run scored, and Spencer Edwards went 2 for 5 with a double. Flores is hitting just .180 on the season in 128 at-bats, but maybe this is the game that gets him going.