The Undercards: Torra, Riefenhauser Sharp, Markel Continues to Progress

By Robbie Knopf

The Rays know how important starting pitching is to team success. They also known how important it is to have a good bullpen. On Sunday in the Rays’ system, starting had a nice 2.40 ERA. But the bullpen collapses to a 6.75 ERA, and the result was two losses in three games.

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 7, Toledo Mud Hens (DET) 1

Pretty convenient when in the same game, everyone in your lineup has a hit and you 5-hit the opposition. Matt Torra pitched well for the Bulls for the the third time in his last four outings, going 5 innings allowing just 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1. Brad Eldred homered for the one Toledo run, but that was easily overshadowed by the Bulls’ offensive performance- mostly. The Bulls cranked out 15 hits, but just one went for extra-bases and there wasn’t a single homer. Leslie Anderson and Stephen Vogt each went 3 for 4, with Anderson doubling and driving in 1 and Vogt scoring twice, and Cole Figueroa went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI. Even Reid Brignac had a hit and a run scored. It was an outstanding all-around game for the Bulls and it turned out as an easy win.

High-A Florida State League: St. Lucie Mets 10, Charlotte Stone Crabs 3 (14 innings)

No, that isn’t a typo above. This game was pretty crazy. Charlotte took a 2-0 lead on the first on a Robby Price leadoff homer and a Derek Dietrich RBI groundout (apparently he’s OK after leaving Saturday’s game early), and C.J. Riefenhauser turned in a great outing, allowing only 1 hit, a Cory Vaughn homer (yes, he’s Mo’s son) in 6 innings, striking out 6 while walking 3 and posting a 6-3 groundout to flyout ratio. But the bullpen let this one get away. Eliazer Suero allowed a Wilmer Flores RBI double in the 8th inning, eventually sending this game into extra-innings, and then Theron Geith led in the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the 10th. But, get this, another wild pitch tied the game in the bottom of the inning. The bullpens duked it out until the 14th, when after 2 shutout innings, George Jensen completely collapsed, allowing 7 runs on 7 hits, and 10-3 would be the final as the Stone Crabs fell. Despite the 14-inning game, the Stone Crabs had just two players with multiple hits, Price and Hector Guevara, who went 2 for 4 and 2 for 6 respectively, and Mikie Mahtook had a day to forget, going 0 for 6 with the Golden Sombrero (4 strikeouts). This was a frustrating loss for the Stone Crabs, and the final score completely belies how contested a game this was.

Low-A Midwest League: Dayton Dragons (CIN) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 1

Parker Markel continues to build up his arm strength after missing a month with arm trouble, and the results were decent in this outing as he went 4 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits, striking out 3 while walking 1 although his groundout to flyout ratio was just 4-4. But the Hot Rods could not get him any run support. It was not, however, from a lack of hits. The first two thirds of the Hot Rods’ lineup went 10 for 26 (.385) including 2-hit games from Jake Hager, Jeff Malm, Drew Vettleson, and Josh Sale. Sale had a solo homer, but that was the only Hot Rods run as they went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Nice to see a bunch of top prospects having good days (although Tyler Goeddel went 0 for 4), but you want to see the end results be better than this.