The final score is not always indicative of how a game really went. Sometimes a different between a blowout and a contest that goes right down to the wire is one inning, one jam that a pitcher either escapes or he does not. In Monday’s game, the Salt River Rafters faced two bases loaded jams, and it was a pair of Rays relievers who made sure they never affected the final score.
Arizona Fall League: Salt River Rafters 8, Glendale Desert Dogs 1
Two runs in the fourth inning followed by four more in the fifth gave the Salt River Rafters a nice 7-1 cushion. But in the 6th inning, it all threatened to come apart. Anthony Ferrera managed to record just one out as he walked three batters and in came Mike Montgomery with the bases loaded, one out, and Glendale one swing away from making it a ballgame again. Instead, Montgomery got ahead of 0-2 before forcing him to ground into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play. Montgomery then tossed a perfect 7th inning, striking out 2 in the process, to finish off an outstanding night. Montgomery went 1.2 perfect innings in total and he threw just 14 pitches, 10 of which were strikes. Three of the four batters he faced were lefties, and Montgomery shut them down to lower lefties’ average against him on the season to just .158. Montgomery’s overall numers are not too shabby either–he now has a 3.00 ERA and a 12-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 12 innings pitched. The Rays are hoping Montgomery is working his way back towards the form that made him the Royals’ top prospect, but his dominance against lefties that has to remind everyone that even if Montgomery does not come all the way back, he still has a future in the major leagues.
Replacing Montgomery was Matt Ramsey, who had an outing to forget. Ramsey retired the first two batters he faced, but then he lost the plate entirely, allowing 3 straight walks before departing. In came Merrill Kelly to clean up the mess, and Kelly struck out Kepler to do just that. Kelly did allow a couple of hits in the 9th, but a groundout and a pair of popouts retired the side as the Rafters won 8-1. Great to see Montgomery and Kelly bearing down, and we can’t forget about Richie Shaffer either–he went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. Shaffer now has an incredible .477 OBP in 65 AFL plate appearances, walking 17 times while striking out just 16 times in 65 plate appearances.