Mar 16, 2014; Port Charlotte, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays left fielder Jerry Sands (68) throws to first base for the last out of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Charlotte Sports Park. The Rays defeated the Red Sox 8-4. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Undercards: Jerry Sands Propels The Durham Bulls' Offense

The Durham Bulls have been rolling this year, and Tuesday was no exception. With another win over the Charlotte Knights, they are now 10-3 on the season, and are extremely hot at a time when the major league club is not. With so many on-fire hitters in Triple-A and so many cold ones in the big leagues, the Bulls’ players are slowly forcing the Rays to consider making a roster move or two.

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 9, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 2

Enny Romero had his second strong start in a row, going five innings and striking out five batters while allowing just one run. While Erik Bedard and Cesar Ramos are currently slated as the final two starters in a Rays’ rotation that is currently in turmoil, they are no sure bet to perform. If they don’t the Rays could turn to Triple-A for rotation help, and Romero could be a player that they look at. After him, Matt Andriese, usually in the Bulls’ rotation, came on to throw two innings of relief. He allowed just one hit, but that happened to be a solo shot off of the bat of Alex Liddi. Jeff Beliveau, who has been up-and-down between Triple-A and the big leagues in the last week, threw the final two frames and struck out four hitters while allowing just one base runner.

Offensively, the Bulls continued their hot start to the season. Mikie Mahtook followed up a 5-5 performance on Monday with a 4-5 performance on Tuesday, including a triple and a double. However, Jerry Sands would be the offensive hero, as he went 2-4 with a pair of home runs, accounting for four of the Bulls’ nine runs. Cole Figueroa, Justin Christian, and Robby Price all added multi-hit games as well, and Kevin Kiermaier knocked his second triple of the year. The Bulls’ offense has been on fire this entire year, which makes the Rays’ offensive blunders that much harder to watch. The Rays are not going to give up on their big league players just yet, but if they stay cold, we have to think at least one Bull could find his way onto the big league roster.

Double-A Southern League: Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 7, Montgomery Biscuits 4

The Biscuits scored enough runs to give themselves a decent chance to win the game, but Dylan Floro‘s poor start meant that the Biscuits would leave empty-handed. Floro gave up all seven runs in his 4.1 innings pitched and allowed 11 hits. Floro skipped from Low-A to Double-A this year, but the returns have not been good, and his 9.88 ERA might have the front office second-guessing themselves. Braulio Lara threw 2.2 innings in relief with four strikeouts, and Matt Lollis threw a scoreless final inning to keep his ERA a perfect 0.00.

The Biscuits would actually only managed five hits in the game, but they did draw nine walks. Curt Casali led the way, getting on base in all five of his plate appearances thanks to four walks and a single. Richie Shaffer also had a nice day, going 2-5 with a triple and an RBI to raise his slugging percentage to .541. Four runs is not bad, but when opposing pitching walks your hitters nine times, you would like to capitalize more than the Biscuits were able to.

High-A Florida State League: Port Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 4

Starter Roberto Gomez did a nice job on the day, giving up just two runs on six hits in his 6.0 innings of work while also striking out five. Marcus Jensen relieved him and gave up 2 runs in his two innings, but both were unearned thanks to errors from Hector Guevara and Leonardo Reginatto. Parker Markel, once a top starting prospect who has since been move to relief, threw a perfect ninth to lock down his first save of the year. A good job by the Stone Crab pitching staff, and it would have looked even better without the pair of errors.

The Stone Crabs’ offense also got the job done today, with eight of the nine starters getting at least one hit. Kes Carter led the way, going 3-4 with a three-run homer. He has now raised his OPS to .905 after starting the season off slow. Patrick Leonard added a home run of his own, a solo shot in the 6th inning, and Marty Gantt also added a nice 2-3 performance with two runs scored. This was an encouraging day all around from a Port Charlotte club that has struggled a bit in the early going this season.

Low-A Midwest League: Game 1: Kane County Cougars (CHC)  2, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0 Game 2: Cougars 1, Hot Rods 0

The Hot Rods played two seven inning games thanks to Monday’s rainout, but they could not take advantage of a pair of strong pitching performances. 19-year old German Marquez started game 1, going 5.0 innings and giving up just one unearned run. Thanks to his advanced stuff and maturity, the Rays aggressively sent him to full-season ball, and he has responded well in his first two appearances. Colton Reavis came on to pitch the final two innings and also gave up just one unearned run. Both Kean Wong and Darryl George had 2-3 performances, but the Hot Rods’ offense could get nothing else going.

In game two, Blake Snell gave up just one run in his 4.1 innings while striking out five and walking three. He is repeating Low-A this season, but is off to a strong start and could find himself in Port Charlotte by mid-season. Brad Schreiber threw the final 2.2 innings and gave up just one hit while striking out a batter. In this game, the Hot Rods managed just one hit that came off George’s bat. Their losing streak is now at a shocking nine games, mostly thanks to a stagnant offense.

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Tags: German Marquez Jerry Sands Mikie Mahtook Tampa Bay Rays

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