Saturday night was a special day for the Rays as they overcame an 8-0 deficit to beat the Angels 10-8. During the day Saturday, the Rays’ affiliates set the tone. Five of the six games played featured a comeback of at least 2 runs by the winning team. Unfortunately, Rays affiliates went just 2-4, but it was a riveting day to set up the dramatic night.
Triple-A International League: Gwinnett Bulls 10, Durham Bulls 5
An inning of nightmares sent Josh Lueke and the Bulls to a loss they would rather that not talk about. The loss was especially meaningful for the Bulls not just for what happened in the game, but the implications of the loss.
The Bulls’ incredible run of five straight division titles has come to an end. In this game, Jim Paduch and Josh Lueke utterly imploded to allow an 8-run 5th inning to erase a 4-1 lead. Lueke had one of the worst outings of his life, allowing 6 runs on 7 hits in just two-thirds of an inning. Lueke has been pitching extremely well up until this bump in the road and hopefully this is just a one-time deal and we’ll see him pitching well in the big leagues in September. Lefty Adam Liberatore did strike out 5 while walking none in 2.1 innings of relief, but by then it was too late. Nevin Ashley did have an outstanding game for Durham, going 2 for 2 with a double, a homer, 2 walks, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, Brooks Conrad also homered, and Henry Wrigley went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored.
Double-A Southern League: Huntsville Stars (MIL) 6, Montgomery Biscuits 5 (10 innings)
If you want to experience just a little bit of what it’s like to be an Angels fan right now, you can think about this Biscuits game. The Biscuits had a 5-0 lead after 3 innings before letting it slip away. The Biscuits scored 5 runs in the second and third innings, with 3 of the runs being driven in by ninth-place hitter Mark Thomas, and starter Jake Thompson gave the Biscuits a strong performance, going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1 and posting a 10-4 groundout to flyout ratio. But the Stars pulled within 5-3 on a Kentrail Davis home run off of C.J. Riefenhauser and tied the game in the bottom of the 8th as Kirby Yates walked the bases loaded before allowing a Brock Kjeldgaard 2-run single. And in the 10th, Davis came through again with a walk-off single against Neil Schenk as the Biscuits had completely fallen apart to lose 6-5. The Biscuits scored 5 runs on just 6 hits, but they talled 11 walks and failed to capitalize, leaving 11 runners on base in the game. Thomas went 3 for 5 with a double, 3 RBI, and a run scored in the loss.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 9, St. Lucie Mets 8
No disappointment here as the Stone Crabs came up with an incredible comeback of their own. Eliazer Suero tossed 3 shutout innings but came apart in the 5th, allowing 5 runs, just 2 earned after a Riccio Torrez error. On the day he was not that bad, going 3.2 innings allowing just the 2 earned runs on 5 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2 and posting a 4-2 groundout to flyout ratio, but the Stone Crabs were down 5-1. However, they pulled within 5-4 in the 5th on a Luke Bailey RBI double an RBI single by Robby Price, and an RBI groundout by Kevin Kiermaier. In the 6th, Alonzo Harris dampened the Stone Crabs’ spirits with a 2-run home run off of Theron Geith to extend the St. Lucie lead to 7-4. The game would remain that way until the 8th. And in the 8th, Bailey came up huge, drilling a 3-run home run to tie the game at 7. But adversity still remained for Charlotte as Daniel Muno singled home a run off of Lenny Linsky to give St. Lucie an 8-7 lead going to the bottom of the 9th. However, the Stone Crabs were not going to be denied. With 2 outs and no one on, Philip Wunderlich was hit by a pitch. Then Steven Tinoco singled. Riccio Torrez, who committed the pivotal error earlier in the game, got redemption with a game-tying RBI double. And an error gave the Stone Crabs a walk-off win by a score of 9-8. Bailey had an unbelievable game, going 3 for 4 with 2 doubles, 1 homer, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored. Bailey has notched 6 hits in his last 3 games, all for extra bases. This is the player that the Rays have been waiting for since the moment they drafted him in 2009 and maybe this could be Bailey’s coming-out party. Price went 3 for 4, Tinoco went 3 for 5, and Cody Rogers and Riccio Torrez both went 2 for 5, with Torrez lacing 2 doubles including the game-tying hit in the 9th.
Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 11, Bowling Green Hot Rods 10
This game may very well have been the craziest in the history of the Hot Rods. Unfortunately, they could not come away with a win. This game got off to an incredible start for Bowling Green as they scored twice on bases-loaded walks in the 1st before Drew Vettleson slammed a 2-run homer in the 2nd to give them a 4-0 lead. Roberto Gomez was great in his shortened 3 inning start as the Rays have been holding back his innings, allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. Felipe Rivero struck out 2 in a perfect 4th and then used a double play to face the minimum in the 5th. But looking in the boxscore, there’s a line that nobody wants to see. “Rivero, Fe pitched to 7 batters in the 6th.” It was an inning that you never hope to see your entire career. Better it happen at Low-A than higher up. Rivero allowed 7 runs, 6 earned, on 6 hits as he failed to record an out in the 6th inning and Charlie Cononie allowed 3 more before he could escape the inning as the Hot Rods allowed 10 runs in the inning to fall behind 10-4. That type of inning is enough to demoralize any team. We saw a 7-run 5th inning take the life out of the Angels in the Rays’ game on Saturday night. But the Hot Rods somehow refused to be fazed and came right back. In the 6th, the Hot Rods tallied 2 runs on a Tyler Goeddel RBI double to go along with a Drew Vettleson RBI single. And in the 7th, the Hot Rods put together a rally to tie the game, with Juniel Querecuto drilling a 2-run double, Ryan Brett doubling home a run, and Vettleson singled up the middle to tie it at 10 as the Hot Rods had put together an incredible comeback. Cononie and Frank Santana both tossed scoreless half-innings in the 8th. But in the 9th, the Hot Rods picked the wrong time to fall apart defensively as throwing errors by the third baseman Goeddel and the first baseman Jeff Malm scored the go-ahead run as South Bend won 11-10. Vettleson had a big game, going 4 for 5 with a homer, 4 RBI, and 2 runs scored. Goeddel went 3 for 5 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored, Jake Hager went 3 for 5, Taylor Motter went 2 for 4 with a walk, his 20th stolen base, an RBI, and a run scored, Malm went 2 for 3 with a double, 2 walks, and a run scored, and Ryan Brett doubled home a run and also stole a base, his 48th of the season.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 6, Lowell Spinners (BOS) 5
No comeback here, but it got awfully scary for the Renegades. Taylor Guerrieri started and pitched well, allowing 1 run on 4 hits in 3 innings, striking out 1 while walking none and posting a 6-0 groundout to flyout ratio. The ‘Gades took a 3-0 lead in the 2nd inning on a Joel Caminero RBI double followed by a Jake DePew RBI single, and after the Spinners tallied a run in the bottom of the inning, Ryan Dunn doubled home a run in the 3rd to make it 4-1 Hudson Valley. Jeff Ames then came in for the Renegades and tossed 3 sharp innings, allowing no runs on just 1 hit, striking out 4 while walking none. The Renegades extended their lead to 6-1 with Ames in the game on a Joey Rickard sac fly to score DePew in the 4th before DePew slammed a solo home run in the 6th. Marcus Jensen and Ryan Garton then tossed a scoreless inning each and the Renegades were on their way to a crisp win. But then Dylan Floro had an inning he would like to forget. With 1 out, Floro allowed triple, single, double, with the single and double each plating a run, and then a Luke Maile error made it a 6-4 game with just 1 out. Floro forced a groundout, but then a Roberto Reyes infield single that Richie Shaffer couldn’t handle made it 6-5. But Floro forced Matthew Gedman to ground out to end it as the Renegades won 6-5. DePew had a career day, going 4 for 4 with a double, a homer, 3 RBI, and 2 runs scored, Ryan Dunn went 2 for 2 with a double, a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, and Tommy Coyle stole his 15th base of the season for the Renegades.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Johnson City Cardinals 9, Princeton Rays 8
Oh, Rookie ball. It spawns the types of games that you never see anywhere else, like this one. Blake Snell had a rare bad start, allowing 3 runs on 5 hits in 2 innings, striking out 2 while walking 1, and Daniel Bream allowed a Ricardo Lizcano 2-run shot in the 4th inning to give Johnson City a 5-0 lead. But then the tide completely turned. Reid Redman doubled home a run in the 5th to make it 5-1. Oscar Hernandez slammed a 2-run homer in the 6th to pull Princeton within 5-3. And then in the 7th, the P-Rays the completely reversed their fortunes. Brandon Martin led off the inning with a homer and it was 5-4. An Omar Narvaez RBI single tied the game. A 2-run double by John Alexander make it 7-5. And Ariel Soriano singled home a run to make it 8-5 as suddenly the P-Rays had scored 8 unanswered runs to turn what looked like a sure loss into a relatively comfortable lead. But anything can and does happen in Rookie ball. Nick Sawyer, who has been next to automatic for Princeton this season, came in for his second inning of work as he tried to nail down the save. Sawyer struck out the first two batters of the inning. Saywer then walked Ricardo Lizcano, but he forced C.J. McElroy to hit a groundball to short. But Martin misplayed the ball, scoring a run and keeping the Cardinals alive. And Sawyer then fell apart, allowing a Ildemaro Vargas RBI double, a Jeremy Shaeffer RBI triple, and walk-off single by Trevor Martin as Johnson City won 9-8 with 4 unearned runs in the 9th. Hernandez and Martin both homered and Omar Narvaez, John Alexander, Reid Redman, Willie Argo, and Ariel Soriano all had multi-hit games, but the result was unfortunately a debilitating loss.