It was a frustrating loss today for the Rays in Matt Moore‘s season debut and there was more frustration to be found in the Rays’ minor league affiliates. But there were also some bright spots and let’s recap what happened.
Triple-A International League: Charlotte Knights (CHW) 5, Durham Bulls 0
The Durham Bulls had a tough night, getting 4-hit by Knights starter Eric Stults and a couple relievers to drop to 4-2 on the season. Alex Cobb had a nice outing for the Bulls, tossing 7 innings of 4-hit, 2-run ball, striking out 2 while walking 1, but it was in a losing effort as the Bulls couldn’t get him anything on offense. 58 of Cobb’s 85 pitches were strikes, but the craziest stat was that Cobb somehow forced an incredible 17 groundouts compared to just 1 flyout. It wouldn’t be too surprising if we saw Cobb back in the big leagues before long, although it may be in a relief role this time. The top of the Bulls’ lineup, Shawn O’Malley, Tim Beckham, and Will Rhymes, went a combined 0 for 11 with a walk. The Bulls got a single hit each from Brandon Guyer, Jesus Feliciano, Jeff Salazar, and Kyle Hudson, but all four hits were singles. Feliciano and Salazar don’t appear to be too downtrodden by their demotions, with Feliciano going 1 for 3 with a walk and Salazar going 1 for 2 with 2 walks and a stolen base. Guyer also went 1 for 3 with a walk and the Rays are hoping he has finally found his stroke after looking lost all spring thanks to bad timing.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 7, Mississippi Braves 3
Some one has to buck the trend, and in this case, that’s a good thing as the Montgomery Biscuits notched their second win of 2012 versus 4 losses with their 7-3 victory against the Mississippi Braves. Shane Dyer kept the Braves off-balance all night with 6 hyper-efficient innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking none as he threw just 67 pitches, 47 strikes. Gotta wonder why he was taken out after so few pitches. Dyer also forced 9 groundouts compared to 4 flyouts. Dyer is another pitcher in the Alex Cobb mold (probably a step behind Cobb) who could be a solid big league 5th starter for somebody someday, but probably not for the Rays. He deserves his own post (we actually have some Pitch F/X data on him from the Arizona Fall League), and look for that over the next couple of days.
In other news, the Biscuits offense had themselves a nice day. Catcher Mark Thomas had a huge day, going 3 for 5 with a triple and 2 runs scored, and he was far from alone as the Biscuits thrust out a 12-hit barrage. Tyler Bortnick went 2 for 5 with a double, a stolen base, and 2 RBI and Omar Luna went 2 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. Brad Coon also went 2 for 4 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Hak-Ju Lee had a hit, a walk, and an RBI for Montgomery. Tuesday night’s game was huge for the Biscuits, and hopefully this is the start of a run.
High-A Florida State League: St. Lucie Mets 6, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
Little went right for Stone Crabs on Tuesday night as they fell 6-2 to St. Lucie and to a 3-2 record on the season. Wilking Rodriguez started for the Stone Crabs, going 4.2 innings and allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out just 1 while walking 2. On the other side, the Stone Crabs could not put anything together against Mets lefty Angel Cuan as Cuan went 7 innings, allowing no runs on just 2 hits and 1 walk, striking out 4. The Stone Crabs managed just 4 hits on the day, but two of them were from one player, catcher Luke Bailey, who went 2 for 3 with a triple, an RBI, and a run. Nice to see Bailey swinging the bat after a tough 2011 at Low-A. Hector Guevara went 1 for 4 with the other RBI while 2011 4th round pick Riccio Torrez went 1 for 3. The 1, 3, and 4 spots in the lineup, Cody Rogers, Derek Dietrich, and Mike Mahtook, went 0 for 14 with a walk. Hopefully those middle-of-the-lineup type guys can get it going and we won’t be seeing the Stone Crabs getting 4-hit again anytime soon.
Low-A Midwest League: West Michigan Whitecaps (DET) 4, Bowling Green Hot Rods 3
The Hot Rods played quite a game but unfortunately, it ended in heartbreak as the Hot Rods lost 4-3 and fell under .500 at 2-3 on the year. The game started off promisingly for the Hot Rods as Ryan Brett tripled to begin the game against Tigers prospect Wilson Palacios and scored on a Drew Vettleson groundout before Kes Carter singled and stole two bases and Cameron Seitzer walked, but Jeff Malm popped out and Joel Caminero grounded out to end the inning, and that would prove huge. Bowling Green starter Roberto Gomez struggled in the first inning, allowing 2 runs on 2 hits and a walk, getting squeezed by his defense on a Carter error, but picked up by Vettleson, who threw out a runner at home to save the Hot Rods a run. Gomez settled down after that, going 5 innings and allowing just the 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk, striking out none. Palacios, meanwhile, also shut down the Hot Rods after the tough first inning, allowing just the 1 run on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1. The Whitecaps extended their lead in the 6th against Jacob Partridge, scoring on a Brandon Loy sac fly. But the Hot Rods finally rallied in the 9th against Whitecaps closer Daniel Bennett. with 1 out, Cameron Seitzer walked, Jeff Malm delivered a double, and Joel Caminero came through in the clutch with a 2-run single to tie the game at 4. But Stayton Thomas and Charlie Cononie blew the game in the 9th, with Thomas allowing a double to Curt Casali, who then stole third, and Cononie allowing a walk-off single to Colin Kaline as the Hot Rods’ rally was wasted. Kes Carter had a nice day for Bowling Green, going 2 for 4 with 2 steals but also making the an error in the outfield. Brett, Seitzer, Malm, Caminero, and Jake Hager all had single hits of various degrees of importance for the Hot Rods. Vettleson went 0 for 4, but he made a big impact on the game with his first-inning RBI along with 2 outfield assists.
Sometimes things don’t go your way. But there are always positives to take with you. We have a lot of wins to look forward to in 2012 at all levels of the Rays organization, but tonight was simply the wrong night.