A strong starting pitching performance will win your team the game most of the time. But the issue with pitching is that no matter how well you need to do as a pitcher, you need your team to score you some runs or you will lose. Jake Odorizzi give the Bulls his best outing in just under a month. But the Bulls failed to score him a single run, and the result was his 6th loss of the year.
Triple-A International League: Charlotte Knights (CHW) 1, Durham Bulls 0
One mistake. That’s all it takes sometimes. Jake Odorizzi was matched up against Erik Johnson, one of the White Sox, and he was facing a tough matchup from the start. At the end of the day, though, he was great. Odorizzi went 7 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 7 while walking none. In sharp contrast to his usual flyball tendencies, he managed a 6-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Odorizzi showed as good fastball command as he has all season to go along with a dynamic changeup, and the result was an incredible start. But he made one mistake, an Andy Wilkins solo home run, and Johnson was just a bit better, going 8 innings allowing no runs on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. Wait a second–Johnson actually allowed nearly double as many hits as Odorizzi! Yeah, this wasn’t simply a case of one pitcher being better than another but the Bulls offense missing way too many opportunities, going just 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Vince Belnome, Cole Figueroa, and Mike Fontenot all went 2 for 4 and Kevin Kiermaier pinch-ran for Belnome in the 9th and stole second base, but the Bulls simply could not push a run cross. Sorry, Jake. But if this start is a sign of a real breakthrough for Odorizzi, the future implications will far outweigh the hurt of this loss.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 5, Mississippi Braves 4 (Game 1, 9 innings)
Aren’t minor legaue doubleheaders only 7 innings each? Why did this game go 9? Yes, they are only 7 innings. But this game went into extra innings and finished with about as dramatic a finish as you’ll see.
Victor Mateo started for Montgomery and kept up his ridiculous second half numbers, going 6 innings allowing a pair of unearned runs on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. He has a 1.80 ERA in his last 9 starts. Yes, his strikeout to walk ratio is just 36-17 and he has allowed 7 home runs, leading to a pedestrian 4.32 FIP, but what in the world is going on? But the Braves tied the game in the 7th against Juan Sandoval to send the game into extra innings. And in the 9th, former Rays prospect Omar Luna delivered an RBI single to put the Biscuits ahead 4-3. But the Biscuits refused to let the game end there. Kyeong Kang singled to begin the inning and was bunted over to second base. Robby Price followed with a walk. Then Ryan Brett hit a groundball to second base, but he hustled down the line to avoid the double play and keep the game alive. That bit of hustle made all the difference. Shawn O’Malley‘s 2-out RBI single tied the game at 1 before Mikie Mahtook delivered another run-scoring hit to win the game for the Biscuits 5-4 in a walk-off fashion. Mahtook had a huge game, going 3 for 5 with the walk-off hit, and Mayo Acosta drilled a 2-run home run.
Mississippi Braves 4, Montgomery Biscuits 0 (Game 2, 7 innings)
Unfortunately, Game 2 was quite the letdown after the emotional Game 1 win. Joe Van Meter made his second Biscuits start and lasted just 3 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. He did force a 4-1 groundout to flyout ratio, though, and that is a reason for optimism. The Biscuits was spectacular in relief of him, though, even as their effort went for naught. Erik Hamren allowed just a hit and a walk in 2 shutout innings, striking out 4, and ex-Reds releiver Carlos Fisher, just signed by the Rays, allowed just an unearned run in his inning of work, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out 1. Austin Hubbard tossed a perfect 7th. On the offensive side, the Biscuits were 2-hit, with Keith Castillo drilling a double and Steven Tinoco managing a single.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 7, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 2
Kevin Brandt was not going to top his 6 no-hit innings in his Hot Rods debut. Sure enough, he allowed 9 hits in this game. But he has was able to work around them to deliver a strong start in the Hot Rods’ 7-2 win. Brandt went 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 9 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. He did regress in the hits department, but he did strike out 7 after K’ing just 3 his first time out. Brandt still has much to prove as a prospect, but so far, so good for him in Bowling Green. Jose Alberto Molina tossed shutout ball for the final 3 innings, working around 4 hits and a walk with 3 strikeouts, forcing a 4-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Combine the strong performances of Brandt and Molina with a great offense, and you have quite the winning formula. Luke Maile went 2 for 4 with a solo homer and 2 runs scored, Ryan Dunn went 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored and an outfield assist, and Joey Rickard had a double and 2 RBI.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Aberdeen Ironbirds (BAL) 5, Hudson Valley Renegades 3
This game pitted the Orioles’ Short Season-A affiliate against the Rays’ SS-A squad. And ironically, it had basically the exact opposite result. The major league game saw David Price allow plenty of baserunners but continuously escape unscatched. This game saw the Renegades pound out 11 hits but go just 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position. The Renegades’ pitching did not do the job in this one, with Jamie Schultz going 3 innings allowing 3 runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3, and Colton Reavis allowing 2 more runs on 3 hits in 3.2 innings, striking out 3 while walking 1. In terms of the offense, plenty of players had great games, but they failed miserably to string hits together. Ariel Soriano went 2 for 5 with 2 RBI, James Harris went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Julian Ridings and Omar Narvaez had 2 hits as well.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 2, Danville Braves 1 (11 innings)
On the season, the Princeton Rays are just 18-40. But lately, they have finally been showing some signs of life. Jacob Faria got the start for Princeton and was dominant, going 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was an incredible 8-3. Faria now has a 2.45 ERA and a ridiculous 55-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 10 starts and 51.1 innings pitched. The 6’3″, 175 right-hander remains more projection than pure stuff at this point, but he’s had himself a ridiculous season and could be setting himself up for a full-season assignment next season. Following Faria was Mario Fernandez, who ended up Princeton after jumping from the GCL to Charlotte for a couple of emergency appearances and got plastered, allowing 8 runs, 7 earned, in just 3.2 innings pitched, walking 5 while striking out just 1. But back in an environment that set him up to succeed, Fernandez got right back on track in this game, going 4 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking none and forcing a 7-1 groundout to flyotu ratio. Coty Blanchard finally ended this game in the 11th with his walk-off single. Elias Torres also went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored and Hunter Lockwood went 1 for 4 with a walk and the other RBI.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Twins 2, GCL Rays 1
There are dominant rehab starts and then there’s what Twins top prospect Alex Meyer did to the GCL Rays on Monday. Meyer allowed just 2 hits in 3.2 innings, striking out 9 while walking none and getting his other 2 outs on the ground. Sheesh. More than a third of the game was gone and the GCL Rays had gotten absolutely bewildered. By the time the game had finished, the GCL Twins had struck out 18. Lewis Thorpe struck out 6 more in 3.1 perfect innings. Anyway, let’s stop lauding the GCL Twins and talk about some Rays prospects. Trevor Shull also had a nice rehab start, allowing just a walk in 2 no-hit innings, striking out 3. Christopher Crisostomo wasn’t too bad in relief, allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 4 hits in 4 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1, but the 2 runs he allowed were enough. At least the Rays’ first and second round picks in this year’s draft made some noise, with Nick Ciuffo drilling the only RBI and Riley Unroe lacing a triple, a double, and the only run scored.