Each and every player has times when they are hot and nothing can stop them. But every once in a while, players are so locked in that their night will be remembered in the record books for generations to come. That is what happened for the Durham Bulls on Saturday, as Mike Montgomery and Brad Boxberger combined to throw a no-hitter.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders (NYY) 0
The Rays continue to have pitching questions, both in the bullpen and rotation, and Mike Montgomery is starting to present himself as an answer to some of these questions. He has been lights out for the most part this year, but that was no more evident than Saturday. Montgomery threw 8.1 innings, and allowed just one base runner via a walk. He struck out nine batters on a night in which his stuff and command was as good as it has ever been. With his pitch count climbing at 106 pitches, the Bulls coaching staff made the tough choice of pulling him from the game with just two outs to go. Surely Montgomery was not happy, but ultimately it was a smart decision. Brad Boxberger, who too is proving himself worthy of a big league roster spot, got the final two outs to seal the no-no. It was the third in Bulls’ history, and the second in as many years.
Montgomery stole the show Saturday, but the offense was stellar as well. They garnered ten total hits, led by Vince Belnome, who was 3-4 with a home run. Belnome has struggled so far this season, but may finally be turning things around. Cole Figueroa also added a 3-4 performance and drove in a pair of runs. Hak-Ju Lee, who was just recently activated from the Disabled List, got his first hit of the season, which is a nice accomplishment after he missed almost all of last season with a knee injury. A pretty good overall day by the offense, but they hardly needed it thanks to Montgomery.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 8, Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 2
The Bulls might have put up the best pitching performance of the day, but the Biscuits got stellar pitching of their own as they won this eleven inning game. Jared Mortensen started for the Biscuits and gave up two runs in his six innings of work to continue his strong start to the season. Matt Lollis threw the next two innings, giving up three hits but allowing no runs. He was acquired as part of the Alex Torres-Logan Forsythe deal this offseason and was thought to be a bit of a project, but his 2.25 ERA in the early going shows he might be more polished than we had thought. Bryce Stowell, Jim Patterson, and Santiago Garrido combined to throw the final three scoreless frames.
The offense scored eight runs, but was actually fairly stagnant until the eleventh inning rolled around. They snagged a run in the first and fourth innings, but would not score again until their six run eleventh. Ryan Brett was outstanding, going 4-6 with a pair of runs scored. Taylor Motter also continued his quest for serious prospect consideration as he went 3-5 with an RBI. Willie Argo contributed as well with his eleventh inning three-run home run. It is always great to score eight runs in a game, but the Biscuits are probably wishing they had done it a bit earlier to avoid the extra innings drama.
High-A Florida State League: Port Charlotte Stone Crabs 5, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 3
The Rays organization bested their second Miami Marlins affiliate of the day when the Stone Crabs triumphed over the Hammerheads. Roberto Gomez started and was decent, giving up three runs in 5.2 innings, but he had to work around five walks to limit the runs. Parker Markel went the next 2.1 innings and gave up just one hit and no runs. Kevin Brandt threw the final inning to earn his second save of the year. His ERA remains a perfect 0.00 through his first 12.1 innings.
Almost every Stone Crabs hitter got in on the fun Saturday, as seven out of nine hitters got at least one hit. Andrew Toles continued a recent hot streak by going 2-5 with a double and two runs scored. Patrick Leonard also stayed hot by putting up a 2-4 performance, both hits being doubles. Not a bad night overall for the Stone Crabs, and you have to love when almost the entire lineup is contributing to a win.
Low-A Midwest League: Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 5, Bowling Green Hot Rods 4
The Hot Rods were the only Rays affiliate to lose on Saturday, and they did so in disappointing fashion. Hunter Wood was the starter and threw great, going five innings and giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out five. Andrew Hanse relived him and threw the next three innings, only giving up one unearned run. The Hot Rods then handed the ball to Aaron Griffin into the ninth with a three run lead. But, Griffin could not hold onto the lead, and got just one out while giving up four runs to earn the loss.
The offense managed twenty base runners thanks to eleven hits and nine walks, but they could only capitalize for four runs. Granden Goetzman was the top performer, going 3-5 with a double and run scored. Ty Young and James Harris also both contributed with 2-4 performances. Four runs will give your team a chance to win, but with a little bit more timely hitting the Hot Rods likely run away with this game.