How far does momentum go? As the season rattles off its last few games, there are always a few teams fightning for playoff spots, but just about everyone is either eliminated from contention or already set to advance. The games are totally meaningless, aren’t they? Why does it matter how many games you win if they don’t lead you anywhere? And if you’re already in, how could pointless games possibly make you better prepared for the postseason? But momentum isn’t a status, it’s a mind-set. Even if momentum is a made-believe thing once we leave its literal definition in physics, if you believe it’s real, it can make you better. As Rays affiliated dominated their opponents on Monday, whether they’re moving on to the playoffs or their couches, they’ll leave the regular season feeling just a little bit better and that could make all the difference.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 1, Norfolk Tides (BAL) 0 (10 innings)
We talked yesterday about how Enny Romero‘s Triple-A debut on Monday could be a turning point in his career. Romero didn’t quite dominate in his debut, but no one could possibly complain about the way he pitched. Romero went 8 innings allowing no runs on just 4 hits, striking out just 2 while walking 2 but forcing an 11-5 groundout to flyout ratio. His secondary pitches still aren’t there, but his fastball command was good enough to compensate in this game. The physical improvements Romero needs to make are still ahead of him. But the confidence from this start could go a logn way in motivating him. C.J. Riefenhauser struck out 2 in a perfect 9th and earned the win when Jason Bourgeois singled in the game’s first run in the 10th. Kirby Yates struck out the side working around a hit for the save. Bourgeois had a huge game, going 3 for 5, and Evan Frey went 2 for 4 with a stolen base while Brandon Guyer continued to solidify his call-up back to the Rays at some point this September, going 2 for 4 with a double.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 9, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 2
If your season is ending, you might as well end it on a high note. The Biscuits’ last game of the season was about as perfect as anyone could have asked for. Jim Patterson got the start, his first of the year on the season’s last day, and it went very well as he went 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 6 while walking 2. Carlos Fisher struck out 2 working around 2 hits and a walk in the next 2 innings before Erik Hamren struck out 2 in a perfect 9th. Even more impressive, though, was the Biscuits offense. Cameron Seitzer finished off his breakout season with yet another huge game, going 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and 4 RBI, Mikie Mahtook went 2 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Ryan Brett went 3 for 5 with a triple and 3 runs scored. Seitzer finished the season with a strong .268/.380/.360 line with 25 doubles, 6 homers, 61 RBI, and a 98-81 strikeout to walk ratio in 139 games. From start to finish, he gave the Biscuits a reliable presence at first base, and it will be interesting to see what happens to him from here.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 10, Lake County Captains (CLE) 2
Don’t tell the Hot Rods these games don’t count. This was one of their best ones yet! The Hot Rods had a bullpen game as their save their starting pitchers for the postseason, and it went quite well. Bruedlin Suero also made his first start of the season in the Hot Rods’ final regular season game and it went pretty well as he went 3 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. Nick Sawyer followed by allowing some baserunners but working around them, striking out 4 in his 2 shutout innings despite allowing a hit and 3 walks. Jose Alberto Molina then tossed 2 perfect frames, striking out 1. Then to finish the game, the Hot Rods did something interesting, going to Jordan Harrison. Harrison has done pretty well for the Hot Rods this season as a starting pitcher, but they threw him for the last 2 innings and he allowed 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. Was it just a tune-up for Harrison or are they preparing the lefty for a bullpen role in the playoffs? In any event, there are more pressing concerns in the organization then what the Hot Rods do with their playoff rotation, such as the Hot Rods’ offense performance in this game. The Hot Rods were led by home runs by Tyler Goeddel, Brandon Martin, Leonardo Reginatto, and Ryan Dunn. Reginatto had 3 hits in the game while Goeddel had 2 and stole his 30th base of the season. But the player who may have had the most exciting final regular season game may have been Joey Rickard. Rickard went 2 for 4 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, stealing 3 bases to also finish with 30 for the year. Great to see the Hot Rods cap their season with an exclamation point, and we’ll have to see if they have what it takes to win the Midwest League title.