The Undercards: Matsui, Bulls Plaster Dice-K
There are many different types of players and types of people in the minor leagues. What’s especially interesting is when big league players spend time in the minors, whether rehabbing an injury or attempting to work their way back to the majors. On Thursday night across the Rays system, we saw some familiar faces and maybe some less familiar ones, but there were exciting games and impressive performances everywhere you look.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Pawtucket Red Sox 0
The Japanese media was in a frenzy on Thursday night in Durham. Hideki Matsui and Daisuke Matsuzaka were playing in the same in minor league game! According to one count, 48 Japanese media members were in attendance! Unfortunately, this game ended up being pretty one-sided in favor of the home team. The Bulls struck first against Dice-K, and it happened quickly as Jesus Feliciano led off the game with a home run. That would be the game’s only run until the 6th inning, with Matsuzaka settling down, and right-hander Jim Paduch went 6 shutout innings, allowing 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 3 and forcing an 8-4 groundout to flyout ratio. The Bulls struck again against Matsuzaka in the 6th, with Henry Wrigley drilled a 3-run blast, and a Cole Figueroa triple followed by a Mayo Acosta sac fly tacked on a 5th run in the 7th. Matsuzaka went 6.2 innings, allowing 5 runs, 4 earned, on 7 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio was 7-3, but he allowed the two home runs, and that cost him. Dane De La Rosa and Brandon Gomes combined for 3 shutout innings of relief as the Bulls won 5-0, improving to 16-26 on the season. Matsui went just 0 for 3 with a run scored, but the Bulls came away with a satisfying win.
Double-A Southern League: Birmingham Barons (CHW) 5, Montgomery Biscuits 3
Matt Buschmann struggled and the Biscuits could not come through with runners in scoring position as they lost this won 5-3. Buschmann got hit pretty hard, going 4.1 innings allowing 4 runs on 12 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. He did force a 3-0 groundout to flyout ratio, but he just allowed hit after hit after hit. The Biscuits managed 10 hits, but they went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. Michael Sheridan slammed a solo homer and Hak-Ju Lee, Ryan Garko, and Brad Coon each went 2 for 4, but they just could not push runs across. The Biscuits drop to 20-22 on the year.
High-A Florida State League: Tampa Yankees 9, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3
Braulio Lara lost control in this one, allowing 5 runs on 5 hits and 5 walks in 3.2 innings, striking out just 3, and the Stone Crabs got 5-hit going the other way. The Stone Crabs went a solid 2 for 6 with runners in scoring position, but the Yankees’ offensive outburst against Lara and Eliazer Suero (4.1 innings, 4 ER) was just too much. Alejandro Torres went 2 for 4 with an RBI and Mikie Mahtook went 1 for 4 with a double, his 5th straight game with a double. Pretty impressive, Mikie. Brandon Allen went 0 for 3 with a walk in his rehab start. The Stone Crabs fall to 19-20 on the season.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 5, Dayton Dragons (CIN) 4
Spotty relief work was prevalent on both sides, and the Hot Rods were able to take advantage and hold on. Jake Floethe allowed a run each in the first 2 innings, but he settled down to go 5 innings, allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 3 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. He posted a 9-4 groundout to flyout ratio. The Hot Rods finally pushed a run across in the 4th on a Todd Glaesmann triple and Jeff Malm sac fly. Dayton starter Jacob Johnson went 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 1 while walking 1. But after Johnson departed, the Hot Rods got a couple runners on against James Allen in the 6th, and Josh Sale got them home, drilling a monster 3-run shot to give the Hot Rods a 4-2 lead. Stayton Thomas and Jason McEachern allowed a run in their two-inning relief stints, but the Hot Rods got a big insurance run in the 8th on a wild pitch to win the game 5-4. The Hot Rods improve to 23-18 with their 4th straight win and 6th in their last 7 games. They have a talented team, and right now they’re rolling.