For one doubleheader, Josh Sale looked like the player that the Rays were looking for when they selected him in the first round of the 2010 MLB Draft and Albert Suarez looked like the pitching prospect with a big fastball and frontline starter potential. Will their performances simply be a “Turn Back the Clock” Day or the start of something sustained.
Triple-A International League: Pawtucket Red Sox 10, Durham Bulls 0
It is downright perplexing that Nate Karns now has a 6.08 ERA in 2014. After Karns managed a 1.45 ERA and a 37-15 strikeout to walk ratio in 37.1 innings pitched from May 6th to June 6th, it looked like he had turned the corner. Karns had gotten his ERA on the season down to 4.24, quite an accomplishment after a horrific start. Then Karns reeled off three disaster outings in his last four starts, including 8 runs on 7 hits in 4.2 innings on Monday, and now the positive vibes are gone. On the positive side, Karns did have 6 strikeouts against 2 walks. Curt Casali also went 2 for 4 with a double in the loss for Durham.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 3, Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 2 (10 innings)
This game was much more satisfying from a Rays perspective. Grayson Garvin got the start for Montgomery and had an encouraging outing, going 4 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. Garvin has now gone 4 innings in his last two starts and could be set to return to a more ordinary 5 in his next outing. Garvin allowed 2 runs in the second inning, but an RBI double by Kes Carter and a Ryan Brett sac fly tied up the game in the third. That tie would last for quite a while. Matt Lollis has been inconsistent this year since coming over in the Alex Torres trade, but he was great in this game, going 3 shutout innings allowing 3 hits but no runs. Then it was Matt Ramsey who finished up the game looking as strong as ever for the win, going 3 innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 4. Joey Rickard gave Ramsey the opportunity to finish the game thanks to his 2-out RBI double in the 10th. Ramsey has control issues to work through, but his fastball-curveball combination has blown away hitters to the tune of 12.6 strikeouts per 9 innings.
High-A Florida State League Game 1: Charlotte Stone Crabs 10, Jupiter Hammerheads (MIA) 0 (7 innings)
Game 2: Hammerheads 6, Stone Crabs 5 (7 innings)
In the first game of the doubleheader, Albert Suarez took the mound and looked as sharp as we have seen him in years. Suarez went 5 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. The performance gave him a 0.64 ERA in 14.1 innings for Charlotte this season plus 10 strikeouts against just 1 walk. Suarez is already 24 years old, but his career may be salvageable in a relief role. After Suarez, we can go to town talking about the offense from this game. Marty Gantt drilled a grand slam, Maxx Tissenbaum went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI and 3 runs scored, Ariel Soriano went 2 for 4 with a triple and 2 RBI, and Tyler Goeddel went 1 for 3 with 2 walks, 2 stolen bases, and 2 runs scored. Tissenbaum’s great game gave him a 5-game hitting streak including multiple hits in 4 of 5. On the season, he has a .304/.333/.408 line to go along with solid results in his first year as a catcher. The first half of 2014 has been a major success for Tissenbaum.
Zach Cooper blew the save to cost the Stone Crabs a doubleheader sweep, but there were still plenty of highlights for Charlotte. Austin Pruitt got the start and allowing 3 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings of work. The real stars, though, came on offense. Patrick Leonard went 2 for 3 with his 12th homer, a walk, and 2 runs scored, Granden Goetzman went 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, Leonardo Reginatto went 3 for 3, and some guy named Josh Sale went 3 for 4 with an RBI. Sale’s disastrous season has continued, but he now has multi-hit performances in 2 of his last 3 games and we have not heard about any off-the-field incidents all year. For Goetzman, meanwhile, he now has recorded a hit in all 4 of his games since being promoted to Charlotte.