The Tampa Bay Rays organization had a rough day offensively on Thursday. The big league club was one-hit (though they still won), Durham was two-hit, and Bowling Green was shut out. On the bright side, Richie Shaffer led the way for a nice Montgomery win.
Triple-A International League: Norfolk Tides (BAL) 5, Durham Bulls 2
The Bulls followed the big league club’s example of getting 1-hit, but unlike the Rays they didn’t get the great pitching performance to go along with it. The Bulls were actually getting no-hit by Tides’ starter Mike Wright until Mike Mahtook hit an RBI double with 2 outs in the 9th. The Bulks added their other run via a wild pitch.
Nate Karns was not in his best form, throwing 5.0 innings and allowing 5 runs (4 earned) while striking out 4 and walking 2. Every time that it seems Karns has turned the corner he has a start like this, and you have to wonder if that inconsistency as a starter plus his age (26) make him a candidate to be moved to the bullpen in the near future. Merrill Kelly then threw 3.0 scoreless innings in relief, striking out 2. Kelly keeps pitching well for the Bulls this year, posting a 2.97 ERA with 102 strikeouts and 34 walks in 106 innings. After Kelly, Brandon Gomes threw a shutout inning.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 8, Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 4
Finally, an offense that could put something together. Richie Shaffer led the way, going 2 for 4 with a homer, 4 RBIs, and 3 runs scored. Shaffer hasn’t produced much this year- he’s hitting just .212 this season. But he still has great raw power, and that makes you hope that there’s still a chance he can tap into the potential that the Rays saw when they took him in the first round in 2012. Also with a nice night was Luke Maile, who went 2 for 4 with 2 RBIs. Cameron Seitzer also joined the fun, going 1 for 2 with 2 walks and 2 runs scored.
Victor Mateo had a decent start for the Biscuits, giving up 4 runs (3 earned) over 6.0 innings while striking out 2 and walking 1. Mateo hasn’t been awe-inspiring this year, but he’s been solid enough, posting a 3.61 ERA and being named a Southern League All-Star. Parker Markel then threw a scoreless inning behind him. Once thought to be one of the top pitching prospects in the Rays’ system, Markel has struggled this year despite a move to relief, posting a 5.25 ERA between Charlotte and Montgomery. Braulio Lara and Bryce Stowell then each threw a shutout inning.
High-A Charlotte was off
Low-A Midwest League: Great Lakes Loons (LAD) 1, Bowling Green Hot Rods 0
Jake Faria had a solid outing for the Hot Rods, throwing 5.0 innings and allowing just an unearned run while striking out 4 and walking 1. Faria has pitched to the tune of a 3.42 ERA this year while showcasing solid command to put himself on Rays’ prospect radars. But before he can be too highly thought of, he needs to prove that his unimpressive stuff can hold up against higher level combination. Stone Speer then threw 3.0 shutout innings in relief before D.J. Slaton added a shutout inning of his own.
The offense, meanwhile, struggled. Willy Adames did have a nice day out of the leadoff spot, going 1 for 2 and showcasing his usual solid plate discipline by drawing 2 walks. However the Hot Rods as a whole managed just 2 hits and that would be their undoing.