Unfortunately when a team puts together such consistent depth like the Tampa Bay Rays do year in and year out, there are going to be capable players that sit in Triple-A when they deserve a big league opportunity. That has been no more evident than this year, as players such as Kirby Yates, Kevin Kiermaier, Jeff Beliveau, and more have proved themselves worthy of a big league job. But, the space to accommodate them in the majors hasn’t been open. Another one of these players is Mike Montgomery, who kept up a solid season by dominating the Columbus Clippers on Sunday.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Columbus Clippers (CLE) 1
Mike Montgomery continued his strong season this year with yet another dominating performance. In this contest, he went 7.0 scoreless innings while striking out 8, walking 1, and allowing 2 hits. His ERA is a good, yet not great 3.47, but if you take out two starts in which he gave up 5 and 7 runs, he has been outstanding. Behind him, Adam Liberatore threw a perfect inning. Then Jake Thompson came to try to finish off the game, but failed to convert and allowed a run before ceding the game to Jeff Beliveau, who got the final two outs.
On offense, Mikie Mahtook had another solid performance, this time going 3-5 with a double and a homer, driving in 3 runs and scoring 2. Mahtook hasn’t stopped hitting this year in Triple-A, but the question still remains if he can do enough to crack into a deep group of Rays outfielders in the future. Hak-Ju Lee added a 2-4 performance to also contribute to the offense. His average stands at just .224, but he has been hitting better as of late and seems to finally be shaking off some rust after missing most of 2013 and the first part of 2014. Veteran Justin Christian also added a 2-4 performance to cap off the offensive notables. It was a pretty good day all around for the Rays Triple-A squad.
Double-A Southern League: Huntsville Stars (MIL) 6, Montgomery Biscuits 1
It is hard to find many positives in a game that you lose 6-1. Mike Colla continued his recent struggles by giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 5.0 innings. He has now allowed 3 or more runs in 5 of his last 6 starts. Matt Lollis tried to calm things down behind him, but he allowed a pair of runs on 2 hits and a walk. At least Santiago Garrido looked good, going the final 2.0 scoreless innings while striking out 4 to lower his ERA to 1.99 on the season. The pitching staff put it out of reach, but the offense didn’t do much to help out either. Jeremy Moore‘s solo blast would be the only run that the Biscuits would get. Willie Argo did go 2-4, but overall it was a dismal day for the Biscuits all-around.
High-A Florida State League: Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 6, Port Charlotte Stone Crabs 5
The Stone Crabs have played in plenty of dramatic games lately, and they had another one on Sunday, but this one would not go their way. Bruedlin Suero had a strong start by going 6.0 innings and allowing just 2 runs while striking out 5 and walking none. Parker Markel then went 1.1 innings and allowed a run to raise his ERA to 3.55. Jose Molina finished off the 8th without letting up any runs. But, taking a 5-3 lead into the 9th, Molina looked to solidify the win. However, he let up 3 runs including a walk-of single to Jeff Roy that cost the Stone Crabs the game.
On offense, Jonathan Quinonez led the way by going 2-4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Quinonez had replaced Andrew Toles in just the 2nd inning, apparently because Toles had been slacking off in the field. Toles has had makeup issues in the past, and laziness is certainly never something you want to see out of a player, young or veteran alike. Let’s hope this is a one-time incident. Patrick Leonard added a 2-5 performance and a double of his own. Overall the offense would smack 6 doubles en route to 5 runs, but Molina couldn’t hold on to the lead.
Low-A Midwest League: West Michigan Whitecaps (DET) 3, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2
Chris Kirsch had a brilliant start in this one, going 7.0 innings and giving up no runs on 3 hits and a walk. But behind him, Jorge Rodriguez let up 3 runs (2 earned) in his 2.0 innings. Johnny Field‘s error cost the Hot Rods a run, and it ended up being a costly one. Normally a team can overcome 3 runs let up by the pitching staff, but the Hot Rods offense could not do so. They would only get 5 hits and draw 2 walks, striking out 11 times in the process. Granden Goetzman‘s double drove in both runs, but no hitter would get more than a single hit, and every hitter but Alexander Simon would strikeout at least once. Overall, a horrendous day for the Hot Rod offense despite a decent pitching performance.