Baseball has been around for a very long time. So when you see history, it’s always a special thing. J.D. Martin would much rather be in the major leagues right now, but at least while he’s stuck in Durham, he has given fans an opportunity to see something they haven’t witnessed for a long time.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 8, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 5 (Game 1, 7 innings)
The Durham Bulls have been a Rays affiliate since their inaugural season. And now J.D. Martin has become the first pitcher ever in their history as a rays affiliate to win 15 games. Martin went 6 innings in this one allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1, and that proved to be enough as Bulls won this game 8-5. Martin’s 15 wins set the record for the most since the Bulls were a Rays affiliate and since they have been a Triple-A affiliate and tied their most since their current incarnation began in 1980 as a High-A affiliate, tying Dave Miller (1987), who went 15-9 with a 3.59 ERA in 27 starts, 3 relief appearances, and 205.1 innings pitched. The last time a Bulls pitcher had more than 15 wins was 1968, when 19 year old Charlie Hudson, a future reliever for the Cardinals, Rangers, and Angels, went 16-7 with a 2.22 ERA in 24 starts, 3 relief appearances, and 174 IP for the A-level Raleigh-Durham Mets. Martin is currently 15-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 25 starts and 152 innings pitched, and he has a chance to best Hudson’s mark if he can record two more wins in his last three starts regular season of the year. Martin won’t mass franchise-record holder Eddie Neville, who went 25-10 with a 2.59 ERA in 40 games and 274 innings pitched back in 1949, but we are seeing something special in the making that hasn’t been done in Durham in 45 years. What a season for J.D. Martin!
There also was an offense for the Bulls in this game and a quite formidable one, with contributions up and down the lineup. Shelley Duncan and Chris Gimenez both went 1 for 3 with 2 RBI and a run scored, Tim Beckham went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, and Kevin Kiermaier went 1 for 3 with a double, a stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored. The entire Durham lineup came on strong in support of Martin, and the result was history being made in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
Durham Bulls 5, Charlotte Knights 1 (Game 2, 7 innings)
After an emotional first game, there was no way the Bulls were going to let this one slip. Cory Wade was the spot-starter and did very well, allowing no runs on 2 hits in 3.2 innings, striking out 5 while walking none. After Adam Liberatore allowed a run in 1.2 innings of work, Josh Lueke went 1.2 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking none, and for his efforts, he was given the win in the game. The Bulls offense pulled in another great effort in this one, with Evan Frey going 2 for 3 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored, Mike Fontenot going 2 for 4 with a run scored, and Kevin Kiermaier going 1 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, Palm Beach Cardinals 0 (6 innings, rain)
It took some help from the elements, but Dylan Floro was dominant once again and came away with his second complete game in his two Charlotte starts. Floro went 6 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1 and forcing a 10-3 groundout to flyout ratio. Floro wasn’t dominating, but he had his sinker working to perfection and the Cardinals couldn’t do anything against him. His ERA in two High-A starts is 0.60–not too shabby. This game also happened to be a rehab start for Desmond Jennings, and he did fine, going 1 for 3 with a stolen base and a run scored. Jonathan Quinonez also went 2 for 2 with 2 doubles and a run scored, Alejandro Segovia went 2 for 3 with a double, and Drew Vettleson went 1 for 3 with the only RBI in the game for the Stone Crabs.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 7, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 1
Blake Snell has had a few similarities with Matt Moore this season. Both are hard-throwing lefties with the arsenal to blow by hitters but not necessarily a good idea of where it’s going, and both were disrupted by a rain-shortened start. This game by Snell had to remind you of Moore’s 11-strikeout, 6-walk game, and you have to hope that it will be a harbinger of a breakthrough for Snell just like it was for Moore. In this game, Snell went 5 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 8 while walking 5. Five walks is always too many, but Snell was able to battle around his bouts of wildness and get enough swings-and-misses to give the Hot Rods a solid outing. Andrew Hanse followed by working around 3 hits in 2.2 innings to throw shutout ball, striking out 2. This game was actually just 2-1 until Bowling Green scored 4 runs in the 8th and another in the 9th. Andrew Toles went 3 for 5 with a double, 2 stolen bases, and 2 runs scored, giving him 56 steals on the season, first in the Midwest League and 9th in Minor League Baseball. Marty Gantt also went 2 for 4 with a triple and 4 RBI and Brandon Martin drilled a solo home run in the Hot Rods victory.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Lowell Spinners (BOS) 4, Hudson Valley Renegades 3
No-hitters are something you can appeciate even in a loss. Walk-offs are most certainly not–it feels terrible when your opponents walk-off against you. Derek Loera made his first professional start after 10 relief appearances for the Renegades and did fine, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits in 5 innings, striking out 4 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was also 6-1. Eli Echarry was great behind him, allowing just 1 run on 3 hits in 3.1 innings, striking out 6 while walking 1, but that one run was enough for Lowell to win. Johnny Field had a solo home run, Darryl George and James Harris had the 2 RBIs, and Granden Goetzman had a double, a stolen base, and a run scored, but their efforts proved insufficient.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 3, Danville Braves 1
Oftentimes, teams are going to have one player that’s absolutely on fire. It’s of course better, though, when you have two. Hunter Lockwood and Spencer Edwards have continued to compete for the title of Princeton’s hottest hitter, and the result was another great game for both of them as the P-Rays won 3-1. D.J. Slaton continued his mastery of younger hitters for Princeton, going 6 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2. He may be facing younger hitters, but the 7 strikeouts were nearly double his previous high of 4, and if he keeps that up then something may actually be going on. He also had 8 groundouts versus just 1 flyout in his most impressive start yet. Oscar Armenta then went the last 3 innings in no-hit fashion for the save, striking out 3 while walking 2. And now to the Princeton offense. Johnny Eierman had a solo home run and the rest was Edwards and Lockwood. Edwards went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and 2 runs scored while Lockwood went 2 for 4 with the 2 RBIs that drove Edwards in. Edwards extended his hitting streak to 6 and he’s hitting .423 (11 for 26) with 3 doubles, a triple, 3 RBI, and 7 runs scored over that span. Lockwood, meanwhile, has a .313/.357/.734 line in his last 17 games with 5 homers, 5 triples, 2 homers, 18 RBI, and 10 runs scored in 70 plate appearances. Lockwood has been doing better for longer while Edwards is a little stronger right now, but both have been the keys to Princeton’s success in their last several games.