Ever have one of those days where it feels like nothing can stop you? It’s even better on the baseball field, when your dominance helps not only you but also the team–well, most of the time. Evan Longoria played out of his mind for the Rays on Sunday and they still fell to the Yankees. But when Richie Shaffer had the day of his life for the Stone Crabs, the result was a walk-off victory.
Triple-A International League: Norfolk Tides (BAL) 2, Durham Bulls 0
Just because a game is a loss doesn’t mean that it can’t be tremendous progress. After several enigmatic starts, Mike Montgomery finally had one where he looked great. Montgomery went 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 6 while walking 3 and forcing a 9-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Montgomery is going to have string together more than one start if he’s really going to break through. But starts like this remind us that Montgomery was once a top prospect and still has a chance to be just as good as people thought he would be just a couple of years ago. Tim Beckham went 2 for 4 in the loss for the Bulls.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 0
Does anyone understand what is happening now with Ryan Brett? After hitting just 4 home runs in 206 plate appearances for High-A Charlotte, he already has 3 for the Biscuits in just 86 PA’s! But whatever is going on right now, it has worked out just fine of late for the Biscuits as Brett’s 8th inning 3-run homer provided the only scoring in this game. Jake Thompson started for Montgomery and fooled nobody but somehow managed to have a great start. He went 6 innings allowing no runs on 5 hits despite striking out just 1, walking 1, and allowing a 5-6 groundout to flyout ratio. Braulio Lara then struck out 2 working around a hit and a walk in 2 innings of work before Juan Sandoval nailed down the save as he stranded a pair of baserunners. On the day, Biscuits pitchers struck out just 3 and walked 3 as well, but the result was a shutout. The Biscuits 7-hit Jacksonville while getting 4-hit themselves, but Brett’s 3-run homer was enough for them to come away with a win.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 7, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 6 (11 innings)
This game featured a little bit of everything, but the deciding factor was that it featured Richie Shaffer at his best. Shaffer had a 2-run double in the 1st inning before lacing an RBI single in the 2nd. He singled again in the 4th, but Willie Argo got thrown out at home plate. He left his best heroics for the 11th inning, though, when he drilled a walk-off double to finish quite a day. Shaffer went 4 for 6 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI, marking the first 4-hit game of his career. Shaffer started things off for the Stone Crabs and was there to clean up the mess after they blew a late lead.
Dylan Floro started for Charlotte and wasn’t nearly as dominant as he had been in his previous two starts, but he battled to deliver a strong outing. Floro allowed a run in the 3rd and 2 more in the 5th, but he managed to go 7 innings allowing 3 runs on 5 hits. His command was off as he struck out just 2 and managed just a 10-8 groundout to flyout ratio, but he found a way to give the Stone Crabs length once again. But in the 8th, crazy things transpired with Lenny Linsky on the mound. A Casey Kotchman RBI double made it 6-4 Charlotte, but then a critical Drew Vettleson fielding error on a Noah Perio single tied the game at 6. Linsky was victimized by 2 errors in the inning, and when you don’t have your best stuff, poor defense behind you can make a shaky inning into a disastrous one. But Shay Crawford tossed 2.2 hitless innings to finish the game and Shaffer ended it in the 11th as the Stone Crabs escaped 7-6. Vettleson made up for his error with a 4-hit day of his own, hitting a double, driving in a run, and scoring a run as well.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 2, Fort Wayne Tincaps (SDP) 1
The top prospects in the minor leagues are quite often not the ones who perform the best. But when a pitcher who wasn’t much a prospect entering the season comes in and outduels the 7th overall pick from the previous year’s draft, that’s always special. Max Fried was outstanding for the Tincaps, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits in 6 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1 and forcing an 11-1 groundout to flyout ratio. But Kevin Brandt was just a little bit better, going 7 innings allowing 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. Brandt is now 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in his 3 Low-A starts, striking out 16 while walking just 3 in 19 innings pitched. Andrew Hanse and Marcus Jensen tossed perfect relief for the final 2 innings to secure the win. Joey Rickard and Leonardo Reginatto had the RBIs against Fried, and Brandon Martin went 2 for 4 out of the leadoff spot.