We all know about the Tampa Bay Rays’ run that began in 2008, but how about that of that Triple-A affiliate, the Durham Bulls? Since 2007, the Bulls have won seven division titles in eight years, a testament to the talent that the Rays have infused and the efforts of manager Charlie Montoyo, pitching coach Neil Allen, and the entire coaching staff. On Monday, the Bulls did it again, clinching the International League South Division with a 4-2 win over the Gwinnett Braves.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Gwinnett Braves 2
It could have been more flashy or dramatic, but all the Bulls did was win again. Matt Andriese got the start and went 5.2 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 3. The 3 walks marked just the second time that Andriese had allowed more than 2 in a start since May 16th, but he battled and forced groundballs (5-2 groundout to flyout ratio) to have another successful start regardless. The bullpen did the rest, with Steve Geltz tossing 2.1 perfect innings with 3 strikeouts before Josh Lueke closed things out by striking out 1 in a 1-2-3 ninth inning. On the offensive side, Cole Figueroa and Mike Fontenot led the way for the Bulls, both going 3 for 4 with an RBI. Fontenot had a triple among his hits and also scored 2 runs. Figueroa certainly has not been disheartened by his demotion, hitting to a .270/.386/.378 line in 44 plate appearances, walking 7 times against just 4 strikeouts. In any event, congratulations to everyone related to the Durham Bulls on another successful season, and while the Rays face long odds, we know for certain that Bulls will be in the playoffs going for a second straight IL championship.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 2
Spot-starter and only five hits from your offense? No problem for the Biscuits as they received a good outing from Jim Patterson in his fourth start of the season and got two homers among those five hits. Patterson went 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. Matt Lollis followed by working around a hit and a walk in 2 shutout innings, striking out 2, before Santiago Garrido and Bryce Stowell were perfect in the final 2 innings. The run support started quickly when Richie Shaffer continued his power surge with a two-run home run off Cincinnati Reds top prospect Robert Stephenson. The homer was his 17th of the season and his third in his last five games. You can say a lot of things about Richie Shaffer, but you can’t say that he lacks power. Taylor Motter added the second homer, a solo shot in the third, to go along with 2 walks and 2 runs scored in the game. Jake Hager also had a strong performance, going 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored. This game turned into quite a nice win for the Biscuits.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 8, St. Lucie Mets 5
We thought Low-A was treating Johnny Field well, but his promotion High-A has only seen him take his game to another level. He now has a 13-game hitting streak to give him a .328/.407/.547 line in 145 plate appearances with Charlotte. He topped it all off in this game with a grand slam in the top of the ninth inning that proved to be a game winner. Granden Goetzman and Juniel Querecuto also had a great games for the Stone Crabs, each going 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored. Querecuto also had an RBI. Then there was usually weak-hitting catcher Jake DePew, who went 1 for 3 with a double, a walk, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Reinaldo Lopez had a rough start for Charlotte, allowing 5 runs in 5 innings, but 4 shutout frames from the bullpen gave the offense a chance to come back, and that’s exactly what it did.