It is fitting the way the games turned out on Monday in the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Two games were low-scoring while the third featured quite a few runs. The Rays do play slugfests like they do on Monday every once in a while, but they are certainly not the norm. Even for that high-scoring game, Ryne Stanek‘s dominant start helped ensure that it was entirely one-sided.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 3
Two pleasant surprises for the Bulls this season have been Merrill Kelly and Mikie Mahtook. Neither had their best effort in this game, but their breakout years keep prodding along. Kelly went 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking 3 while walking 2. His ERA went up to 2.45 in the process….may that be Kelly’s biggest concern. Mahtook, meanwhile, went 2 for 4 with a triple, raising his average to .318. Mike Fontenot went 2 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and a run scored to lead the offense.
The other player worth mentioning in this game is Brandon Gomes. He fell apart entirely in his last few major league appearances before getting demoted and the horror continued in his first Triple-A outing. He allowed 3 runs in 2 innings pitched, and it had to creep into the back of your mind that Gomes might be beyond fixing. Then Gomes went out in this game and allowed just 1 hit in 1.2 innings, striking out 2 while walking none. He has work to do if he wants to experience more success in the major leagues, but this is a good place to start.
Double-A Southern League: Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 3, Montgomery Biscuits 2
Grayson Garvin got off to a great start to 2014, managing a 2.89 ERA and a 14-2 strikeout to walk ratio in his first 4 starts, but then the concerns began. The ex-Vanderbilt lefty underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2012, and when left his April 23rd start with shoulder soreness, you had to wonder whether his injury problems were popping up again. Well, in this game, just over a month later, Garvin came back and looked fine. The Rays limited Garvin to 2 innings and he allowed just 1 hit, striking out 2 while walking none. The Rays will be very careful with him as he continues building up his durability, but the ability is there and hopefully he can put these injuries in the past.
Relieving Garvin was usual starter Jared Mortensen, and he had arguably his best game of the year. He went 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 6 hits, striking out a season-high 7 while walking just 1. Just once in his first 8 appearances did Mortensen manage a 2 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio, but he has now pulled off the feat in his last two games, striking out 6 and 7 batters respectively. Could Mortensen be making an adjustment? In other news, Taylor Motter went 3 for 5 with a double and a run scored to highlight the limited Biscuits offense.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 15, West Michigan Whitecaps 0
This is the type of game you dream of having more often. We’ll start with the pitching. Ryne Stanek has been inconsistent thus far in his minor league career, but this was his best start. Stanek went 6 innings allowing just 1 hit, striking out 4 while walking none and forcing an 8-3 groundout to flyout ratio. Stanek had a couple of rough outings after a great pro debut, but he continues to show better command and control and it paid off here. Hopefully Stanek can keep pitching well and get up to High-A before long.
Now to the offense, and it starts with Yoel Araujo. The former high profile international signee has had isolated great games but not much sustained success. Hopefully this game actually gets him going. Araujo drilled a pair of 2-run home runs in 4 trips to the plate, giving him 7 long-balls on the year. Alexander Simon, on the other hand, drilled his first homer of the year, a 3-run blast. He has come out of nowhere to have a good season. Ty Young had 2 hits and 3 RBI and Johnny Field had 3 hits and 2 RBI to provide additional highlights in the offense’s great night.