As the Rays lose in similar fashion every day, at least the minor league affiliates are giving us something to talk about. On Friday, Armando Araiza’s 2 homers provided excitement for the Hot Rods…before they lost on a walk-off balk.
Triple-A International League: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (NYY) 3, Durham Bulls 2
It seems like the Durham starting staff has been taking turns delivering disaster starts. If that was Merrill Kelly‘s goal in this game, he didn’t do a very good job. Kelly went 5.1 innings allowing 3 runs on 9 hits, striking out just 2 while walking 5. That is a bad start to be sure, but Kelly held it together well enough to keep the Bulls in this game. Adam Liberatore helped him by stranding two runners, and he and Kirby Yates finished the game in no-hit fashion for the final 2.2 innings. But the Bulls offense could not do enough for their efforts to make a difference.
That said, Kevin Kiermaier had another incredible game, going 2 for 4 with 2 stolen bases and a run scored. He finds himself in the Bulls’ third spot in the order now, and apparently it suits him. Hak-Ju Lee led off and went 1 for 4 with a stolen base and a run scored. It’s taking a while, but he is finally starting to look like his normal self. Then there was Curt Casali, who had his worst day at Triple-A as he went just 1 for 3. He has gotten a hit in all four of his games with the Bulls so far.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 5
The Stone Crabs pulled off the seemingly impossible feat of winning a game in this organization, but even they had to endure a bullpen collapse. Jeff Ames started and had his first good start of the year, going 5 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. Ames has been the Stone Crabs’ Jake Odorizzi after a strong year at Bowling Green last year, and like Odorizzi, he finally came through with a good outing. Leonel Santiago followed with his first relief appearance of the year and allowed a run in 2 innings of work, although all 6 of his outs came on the ground. Then Marcus Jensen allowed 3 runs, 2 earned in 2 innings but hung on for a save he certainly didn’t earn.
On offense, Justin O’Conner had a huge game, going 3 for 4 with a solo homer, a double, and an 8th inning RBI single that proved to be the difference in the game. It would be great if he could draw a walk or 10–his OBP is just .288 on the year–but he is hitting .250 with a .433 OBP. If he can somehow keep this up at higher levels, there are worse things than a catcher who is an all-or-nothing hitter at the plate with real power. Beside him, Tommy Coyle and Leonardo Reginatto both went 2 for 4 with an RBI while Andrew Toles had a double and a stolen base. Toles started the season just 5 of 11 in stolen bases, but he has been 7 of 8 since then.
Low-A Midwest League: Lake County Captains (CLE) 11, Bowling Green Hot Rods 10 (11 innings)
This may be the craziest game you have ever seen. The Hot Rods pulled off a ridiculous comeback, scoring 9 runs between the 7th and 8th innings to erase a 9-run deficit. Armando Araiza put Bowling Green on the board with a solo homer in the 6th inning, then his second homer was the second of back-to-back-to-back home runs by Johnny Field, him, and Granden Goetzman. Darryl George‘s homer in the 8th made it 10-6, and then a Pat Blair RBI double, a Goetzman hit-by-pitch, and an Oscar Hernandez 2-run single tied the game. But after all of that, Ian Kendall allowed a single and 2 walks in the 11th before being replaced by Stone Speer, who balked to end the game. Could this game have ended any more annoyingly?
Just a couple other insane tidbits: German Marquez allowed 5 unearned runs in the 6th as the Hot Rods made an incredible 4 errors behind him in one inning. FIVE UNEARNED RUNS! Marquez was excellent otherwise, allowing 4 hits and no walks while striking out 3 in 4 innings of work. Some unearned runs are cases where the pitcher should have overcome them, but you certainly can’t blame Marquez in this instance. Then there was Juniel Querecuto, who entered the game with 4 walks in 118 plate appearances and proceeded to walk 4 times. Of course.