The Undercards: Bullpen, Offense Step Up as P-Rays Edge Bluefield
By Robbie Knopf
We don’t appreciate the bullpen when it’s going well. When it’s not, we complain notstop as our favorite teams struggle to win games. The Rays bullpen had a very tough night Wednesday, but hopefully it can rebound to get back on track and pitch like the bullpens of Rays affiliates pitched that same night.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 6, Lehigh Valley Ironpigs (PHI) 4
The bottom of the lineup stepped up as the Bulls came away with a win against the Ironpigs. Matt Torra got the start and had a tough outing, allowing 4 runs on 9 hits in 4.2 innings, striking out 1 and walking 1 as well while posting a 5-5 groundout to flyout ratio. But the Bulls bullpen was outstanding, with Frank De Los Santos allowing a lone hit in 2.1 innings and Bryan Augenstein and Dane De La Rosa tossing a perfect inning each. In terms of the offense, Cole Figueroa went 3 for 4 with a double and 3 RBI and out the nine-hole, Leslie Anderson went 3 for 4 with a double and 2 runs scored to raise his average to .317 on the year, Jesus Feliciano went 2 for 4 with an RBI from the 8th spot, and Sam Fuld had a nice rehab game, going 2 for 5 with a double. The Bulls went 6 for 16 with runners in scoring position in the game.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 3, Daytona Cubs 1
Eliazer Suero has struggled through an extremely tough season in 2012, managing just a 7.57 ERA entering Wednesday. But he finally twirled a gem. Suero had easily his best outing of the season in this game, going 5.2 innings allowing 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. A Taylor Davis homer was the only major blemish for Suero. The bullpen in relief of Suero was great, tossing 3.1 shutout innings, 2.1 by Jim Patterson and the final inning by Chris Rearick. On offense, Steven Tinoco had a 2-run homer, Kevin Kiermaier went 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI, and Robby Price went 2 for 4 with a walk and a run scored.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 5, Kane County Cougars (KCR) 0
Jake Floethe and the Hot Rods bullpen 2-hit the Cougars getting their offense from a pair of home runs. Floethe improved to 9-1 on the season, going 5 innings allowing just 1 hit, although he did strike out just 1 while walking 3. His groundout to flyout ratio was 7-4. Jason McEachern was up next and he tossed 3 scoreless frames, allowing 1 more hit and striking out 4 while walking 1. Stayton Thomas tossed a perfect 9th for the Hot Rods. On offense, Jeff Malm and Alejandro Segovia each went 2 for 3 with a home run, with Malm’s being a 2-run shot, and Drew Vettleson also went 2 for 4 with 2 stolen bases and an RBI.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Brooklyn Cyclones (NYM) 7, Hudson Valley Renegades 3
Renegades pitchers had a tough night as the Renegades were the only Rays affiliate to lose on Wednesday. Matthew Spann went 4 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 1 and walking 1 as well while posting a 4-3 groundout to flyout ratio. Brandon Henderson was up next and pitched well, allowing 1 run on a hit and a walk in 3 innings, striking out 3 and posting a 2-0 groundout to flyout ratio. But Dylan Floro struggled to put this game out of reach, allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 3 hits in 2 innings, striking out 3 while walking 1. Tommy Coyle did have a nice day at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a 2-run homer to raise his batting average to .298 on the season, and Leonardo Reginatto kept his hot streak going with a 1 for 3 night with the 1 being an RBI double.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 6, Bluefield Blue Jays 5
Both teams’ starters got roughed up in this one, but superior bullpen work by the P-Rays proved to be the difference. Princeton roughed up Blue Jays top prospect Daniel Norris, tagging him for 5 runs on 7 hits in 4 innings, but Eli Echarry and the defense let it up as Echarry allowed 5 runs, just 2 earned, on 5 hits in 4 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1. The game came down to a battle of the bullpens. The Bluefield bullpen was very good, allowing just 1 run in 5 innings. But the P-Rays bullpen was even better, not allowing a single run in relief of Echarry and that was the difference in this one. Chris Kirsch, the Rays’ 14th round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, made his professional debut and pitched well, tossing 2 shutout innings allowing 2 hits and a walk while striking out 2. Nick Sawyer followed with 2 hitless innings, striking out 3 while walking 1, before Zach Butler slammed the door in the 9th with a perfect inning with 2 strikeouts. On offense, Reid Redman went 1 for 4 with a 2-run homer, a walk, and a stolen base, Alvin Toles went 2 for 5 with a double, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, and Omar Narvaez went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 7, GCL Twins 6
The GCL Rays let a 4-0 lead slip away, but they were able to stay in the game with great bullpen work, and a 3-run 9th propelled them to a dramatic 7-6 win. Geisel De La Cruz continued to throw the ball well but fell apart in the 5th inning in this one, allowing 4 runs. He tossed 4.1 innings allowing 5 runs 7 hits, striking out 1 while walking 2 although he did post a 7-2 groundout to flyout ratio. He left his sinker up a few too many times and got hit pretty hard. But Stepan Havlicek followed him with 3.2 one-run innings, allowing 4 hits and striking out one while walking none, to keep the GCL Rays within striking distane in the 9th. And they were able to put together a rally. A couple of walks and a Bralin Jackson singled loaded the bases with 1 out in the 9th before Ben Kline continued his big season with a 2-run single to tie the game, and a fielder’s choice off the bat of Johnny Eierman gave the GCL Rays a 7-6 lead that Luke Goodgion held with a perfect 9th to deliver the win. Kline went 2 for 5 with 3 RBI in the game, actually watching his batting average go down from from .467 to .460 on the day, Bralin Jackson went 3 for 5 with 2 runs scored to raise his average to .326 on the year, and Kes Carter had a positive rehab game, going 1 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, an RBI, and 2 runs scored.