There are some days as a hitter where you are seeing the ball as well as ever and everything falls into place. It’s especially notable, though, when multiple hitters are feeling it in the same day. Tyler Goeddel and Jake Hager both had excellent days to continue their promising starts to the season, and the Rays hope that their 4-hit games are just the latest highlights of breakout years for both.
Triple-A International League: Charlotte Knights (CHW) 4, Durham Bulls 3
This game seemed an awful lot like a Rays contest as the two teams were tied after 5 innings before Matt Andriese allowed 3 runs in the 6th inning and 2 runs by the Bulls in the 8th were insufficient. Andriese was inconsistent once again, allowing 4 runs, 3 earned, on 5 hits in 7 innings, striking out 4 while walking 2. Nice to see him provide length, but only once this year has he allowed less than 3 runs in a start. Wilson Betemit did have a nice game in the loss for Durham, going 1 for 2 with a solo home run and two walks.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 0
This was a fun game all-around for the Biscuits, but the player who had the most fun was in the 9-hole. Victor Mateo was dominant again, going 7 shutout innings allowing just 5 hits and a walk while striking out 9. He has allowed just 1 run over 19.1 innings in his last three starts and has a 26-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 29.1 innings on the season. He still isn’t really a prospect, but with improved fastball command and a solid changeup, his odds of pitching in the major leagues have increased exponentially. Andrew Bellatti finished the game for Montgomery, scattering 2 hits and a walk over 2 scoreless frames, striking out 3.
On the position player side, a trio of Biscuits had games to remember, but we will spend most of our time on Jake Hager. He went 4 for 4 with a solo homer and 2 runs scored to raise his line to .316/.365/.491 on the season. The homer, which came in the 9th inning, was his first since 2012. Hager didn’t hit at all last year, and the Rays challenged him by promoting him to Montgomery nevertheless. He has lived up to the challenge by every standard so far, and the Rays have to hope that this can last. Ryan Brett also went 3 for 5, and then there was Taylor Motter, who went 1 for 4 with a solo home run, a sac fly, and two outfield assists.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 13, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 6
One of those questions nobody really wants to ask: when the opposing team’s pitchers are struggling mightily, how much is a four-hit game skill and how much is it luck? Like everyone else, we’ll ignore the question. Tyler Goeddel had a huge game, going 4 for 4 with a double, a stolen base, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored. He has a .339/.446/.597 line to begin the year, which is actually ridiculous, and his 7-11 strikeout to walk ratio makes you wonder whether he can make this last. Goeddel has done this before (i.e. the beginning of 2012), but in that situation, we ignored factors like his strikeout to walk ratio that should have led to immediate concerns. It’s amazing how real this looks.
Beyond Goeddel, two other players who really needed multi-games were able to get them. Nothing has gone right for Andrew Toles this year as his average, OBP, and SLG are all under .300 right now, but he is finally making some progress towards fixing that, going 3 for 5 with 2 doubles, a walk, an RBI, and 3 runs scored. We knew when he was hitting out of his mind at Bowling Green that his patience and pitch recognition needed a lot of work, but no one thought he’d fall this hard, and the Rays are still hopeful he’ll be fine. Josh Sale also went 2 for 5 with 2 doubles, an RBI, and a run scored. He may be back from suspension, but he has a lot to prove to get back to the prospect status he had before.
I should probably mention at least one pitcher, and I’ll go with Jorge Rodriguez, who made his Charlotte debut with 3.1 innings of 4-hit, 1-run ball, striking out 3 while walking 1. Pretty crazy that the Rays were willing to jump Rodriguez to Charlotte after he began the year in extended spring training, and let’s see if he can take advantage of this opportunity.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, West Michigan Whitecaps (DET) 3
The Hot Rods are winning games and making it a habit! This is exciting to see. In this one, they rallied from down 3-1 after 6 to score 1 in the 7th and 2 in the 9th to win 4-3. The big hero Armando Araiza, who went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI, all in those last 3 innings. Also impressing on offense were Johnny Field and Ty Young, who each had 2 hits, a double, and a run scored. On the mound, Jordan Harrison was penalized by sketchy Hot Rods defense as he went 5 innings allowing 3 runs, 1 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. He also managed a great 10-2 strikeout to walk ratio. What could have been a nice outing by Harrison was messed up, but luckily the Hot Rods were able to make up for it with the help of Araiza and their bullpen as Brad Schreiber and Ian Kendall worked around 4 hits to toss scoreless ball for the last 4 innings.