The Undercards Part 2: Optimism Returns

By Robbie Knopf

I would not have pegged Lance Pendleton and Matt Buschmann to be organizational stabilizers in the Rays organization. But that’s exactly what they were late Sunday afternoon.

Triple-A International League: Game 2: Durham Bulls 2, Norfolk Tides (BAL) 0 (7 innings)

You can say want you want about losing in the minor leagues. However, losing game after game, series after series has an impact on the players involved. It could frustrate them and affect their play. And even if it doesn’t, it could make them stop caring about the team and care purely about their numbers, which is a derogatory notion as well. Even minor league teams need to win games. Lance Pendleton, the ex-big leaguer and elder statesman of the staff, gave the Durham Bulls the outing they needed to help break out of this slump. Pendleton went 5 shutout innings, allowing just 3 hits and 1 walk while striking out 5. He forced 4 groundouts to 1 flyout. The Bulls backed him up with just 2 hits- but they made them count. In the third inning, Jeff Salazar singled, moved to second on Craig Albernaz‘s sac bunt, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Cole Figueroa‘s sac fly. Then in the 5th, Matt Mangini slammed a fastball middle-in out to center for a solo home run to give Durham a 2-0 lead. John Gaub and Ryan Reid combined for a 1-2-3 innings in the 6th for the Bulls before Reid allowed 3 hits and a run in the 9th to make the game more tense at 2-1. But Dane De La Rosa struck out Allan de San Miguel to end the game as the Bulls held on to win 2-1 despite just two hits and a walk on the game. The Bulls improved their record to a slightly more reasonable 11-20. Hopefully the Bulls are just beginning to turn their season around and can continue grinding out wins.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Chattanooga Lookouts (LAD) 1

Matt Buschmann is not about to blossom into a dominant pitcher. But he is starting to look like a steal as a waiver claim by the Rays back in mid-April. Buschmann breezed through 6 innings for the Biscuits on Sunday, allowing just 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking 2 but forcing a great 9-3 groundball to flyball ratio. He was so good that poor Matt Magill took the loss for the Lookouts despite allowing just 2 unearned runs in 5 innings!  Buschmann tossed just 70 pitches, just 39 of which were strikes, but he was getting outstanding movement on his sinker and forcing easy out after easy out. On offense for the Biscuits, Kyeong Kang continued his hot streak, going 1 for 3 with a solo home run, and Brad Coon and David Wendt each went 2 for 4, with Coon scoring a run and Wendt driving one in. Michael Sheridan also had an RBI single for the Biscuits in 4 trips (the other Biscuits run scored on an error). Hak-Ju Lee also had a hit for the Biscuits, going 1 for 4 with a run scored. The Biscuits improved to 14-17 on the season and Rays officials have to be ecstatic about Buschmann’s start. Executives on other teams who let Buschmann slip through their fingers have to be shaking their heads.