There are some days when your offense can’t do much to help you out, but your pitching staff is strong enough that you still come away with a win. Look no further than the Tampa Bay Rays, who have had plenty of that type of game in the past few years. The Port Charlotte Stone Crabs had one of those days on Sunday, as they scored just three runs in twelve innings. But thanks to a strong performance from Reinaldo Lopez and the rest of the pitching staff, they managed to pull out with the victory.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 6, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (NYY) 4
The Bulls were expected to have a pitching staff that relied on top prospects that got the job done, but arguably their best performer of the young season has been Merrill Kelly, a less heralded prospect. Kelly started Sunday’s game, and while he was not as dominating as he has been in previous games, he still had a stellar performance. Kelly went 6.0 innings, allowing three runs while striking out five hitters and walking just one, though he did hit two batters. Steve Geltz relieved him to get the next two outs, allowing a run before being pulled for C.J. Riefenhauser. He went 1.1 innings while giving up no runs, and Kirby Yates finished things off for his eighth save of the season. Yates still has a perfect 0.00 ERA this season, and has very little left to prove in the minor leagues.
The offense continued to be relentless today, as they netted eleven hits and five walks en route to six runs scored. Jerry Sands went 2-4 with a home run and three RBIs. With Sands being continually hot, it is getting harder and harder to see him stuck in Triple-A with some of the big league club’s hitters stone cold. Cole Figueroa also had a 2-4 performance to raise his average to .352. Justin Christian and Wilson Betemit added 2-5 performances to cap off yet another great night for the offense.
Double-A Southern League: Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 10, Montgomery Biscuits 0
Not much went right for the Biscuits in the game as they were blown out by the Miami Marlins’ affiliate. Mike Colla had been decent so far this year coming into this game, but he allowed ten runs, though six were unearned, on nine hits in just 2.2 innings to raise his ERA to an ugly 5.55. Ryan Brett had a pair of errors, which led to six of the Suns’ ten runs. Andrew Bellatti and Braulio Lara righted the ship by throwing a scoreless final 5.1 innings, but when your starter gives up ten runs, there’s not much you can do to save the game.
The pitching staff may have been bad, but so was the offense. They managed just three hits and one walk in the game, though you can probably attribute part of it to bad luck on balls hit in play, as they did just strikeout four times. Ryan Brett, Richie Shaffer, and Alejandro Segovia each hit singles for the only offensive production on the day. Willie Argo did steal his 13th base of the season, which is the second most in the Southern League. This was a very forgettable night for the Biscuits overall.
High-A Florida State League: Port Charlotte Stone Crabs 3, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 2 (12 innings)
This is the type of game that you love to see your team win, as the Stone Crabs prevailed in this 12 inning pitcher’s duel. Reinaldo Lopez started for Port Charlotte and looked great, going 6.0 innings while giving up only an unearned run and striking out four. Marcus Jensen went the next four innings and was just as good, allowing no runs on three hits and a pair of walks. Jose Alberto Molina came on in the 11th inning trying to earn the save with the Stone Crabs up by one. He allowed the tying run to score in the 11th, but earned the win after a scoreless 12th inning.
The offense was not too special, netting eight hits and three runs in the extended game, but they scored when they needed to in the top of the 12th to win the game. Thomas Coyle led the way with a pair of hits in five at-bats on top of two runs scored. Patrick Leonard added a 2-5 performance to continue his strong season. Andrew Toles and Justin O’Conner each added an RBI to add their contribution to the offense. Thanks to the strong pitching performance, the offense didn’t have to do too much in this one.
Low-A Midwest League: Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 5
The Hot Rods have looked bad this season, but at least they kept things close in this one. 19-year old German Marquez was the starter and experienced his first rough outing of the season, going just 3.1 innings and giving up four runs while walking four batters. Brad Schreiber picked things up for the Hot Rods, but allowed three runs in his three innings, all unearned thanks to some poor defense by the Hot Rods. They made three errors in this contest, which would end up being the difference in the game. Ian Kendall threw the final scoreless 1.2 innings.
When you get fourteen hits and five runs you are hoping to win almost every game, but that didn’t happen for the Hot Rods on Sunday. Oscar Hernandez was the offensive leader, going 4-5, a very encouraging performance give his tough start to the season. James Harris, Johnny Field, and Darryl George all added two hit performances as eight out of nine hitters in the lineup got at least one hit. Five runs scored is not bad, but if they could have capitalized on their fourteen hits a bit more then we would be talking about a whole different ballgame.