After their crazy day on Saturday, Rays affiliates deserved a nice relaxing day on Sunday. They did not get it.
Triple-A International League: Gwinnett Braves 13, Durham Bulls 10 (11 innings)
After his 7-run meltdown on Saturday, Lueke deserved an off-day on Sunday to get himself together mentally. He didn’t get it and that was the nail in the coffin for the Bulls this game. Jeff Niemann started in a rehab appearance and he got hit pretty hard. Niemann went 4.1 innings allowing 4 runs on 12 hits. There were certainly some positive signs as Niemann struck out 3 while walking none and posted a 5-1 groundout to flyout ratio. But 8 of the 12 hits were line drives and his bad performance was no fluke. Niemann will get at least one more rehab appearance and we can’t be sure of Niemann’s role once he returns to the big leagues. The Bulls actually led 9-5 after 5 innings, highlighted by the double play combo of second baseman Tim Beckham, who had a solo home run and a sac fly, and shortstop Reid Brignac, who had a 2-run single. A Josh Kroeger 2-run homer in the 7th made it 9-7, but the Bulls got a run back when Brignac walked, stole second, advanced to third on an error on the steal, and scored on a wild pitch. But the 10-7 lead quickly evaporated when the Braves rallied for 4 in the 8th, with Stefan Gartrell drilling a 3-run home run. Dane De La Rosa for Durham and Anthony Varvaro exchanged zeroes in the 9th and 10th for the two teams, but Lueke was forced out there for the 11th and it did not go well. Lueke allowed 4 hits as he allowed 3 runs, 2 earned, on a Josh Wilson 2-run single (yes, that’s Wilson the ex-Ray) and a Luis Durango RBI double, and that was the margin of victory as Gwinnett won 13-10. Brignac, Beckham, and Chris Gimenez each had 2 hits and 2 RBI and Leslie Anderson and Brooks Conrad had multi-hit games as well, but disastrous pitching wasted another great offensive day for the Bulls. Good news is that Lueke is staying calm and looking at things the right way.
Double-A Southern League: Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 9, Montgomery Biscuits 2
Little went right for the Biscuits in this one. Merril Kelly started and went 4.1 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking 4. Marquis Fleming allowed 1 run in 2.1 innings to put the Biscuits behind 3-2, and from there it all fell apart. Chris Rearick had a rare meltdown, allowing 3 runs in 0.2 innings on homers by Beau Mills and David Vidal, and Scott Shuman allowed 3 more runs, albeit just 1 earned as he failed to throw strikes, walking 3 while striking out just 1. Derek Dietrich and Michael Sheridan did each have 2 hits, including a double, to go along with an RBI each.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 5, St. Lucie Mets 4
After rallying for a 9-8 over St. Lucie on Saturday, the Stone Crabs almost let St. Lucie do the same thing to them but managed to escape with a walk-off victory. The Stone Crabs scored 4 runs in the first 2 innings, with Robby Price lacing an RBI single and a rehabbing Luke Scott drilling an RBI double. Albert Suarez had a nice start for Charlotte, going 5 innings allowing just 2 hits, striking out 2 while walking none and posting a 6-4 groundout to flyout ratio. But things came apart for Chris Andujar in the 6th, with singles by Daniel Muno and Richard Lucas driving in 3 runs. A stinging Luke Bailey passed ball tied the game at 4. But in the bottom of the 9th, Kevin Kiermaier came through with a walk-off single as the Stone Crabs won 5-4. Scott had a very positive rehab appearance, going 2 for 3 with a 1 double, 2 walks, an RBI, and a run scored, although being intentionally walked didn’t do his rehab any good, and Robby Price, Todd Glaesmann, Steven Tinoco, Cody Rogers, and Kiermaier had multi-hit games as well.
Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 5
If anyone deserved a win Sunday, it was the Hot Rods, who put together an incredible rally on Saturday to tie the game coming back from a 10-run inning for the opposition only to see the Silver Hawks win 11-10. But alas, no. The Silver Hawks tallied 4 runs in the 1st inning against Ryan Carpenter, with Ryan Court drilling a solo home run, but Carpenter and the Hot Rods kept it together and came back again. Jeff Malm singled home Drew Vettleson to plate a run in the bottom of the 1st, and Josh Sale singled home Matt Rice to make it 4-2 in the bottom of the 2nd. Ryan Carpenter allowed a Matt Helm solo homer in the the 3rd, but a solo homer by Jake Hager in the bottom of the inning and then a 2-run shot by Vettleson in the 4th tied the game at 5. Carpenter battled to go 6 innings allowing 5 runs, 3 earned, on 7 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. He certainly wasn’t sharp, but he gave the Hot Rods 5 nice innings after the tough 1st to give them a chance to come back. But the Hot Rods couldn’t muster any more runs the rest of the game and a Roldany Aguila solo home run off of Jacob Partridge was enough to give South Bend a 6-5 win. Partridge allowed just the 1 run in 3 innings on 2 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1, but the Hot Rods offense simply fell silent after the 5th. Vettleson went 3 for 5 with a homer, 2 doubles, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored, Matt Rice went 4 for 5 with a double, a triple, and a run scored, Jake Hager went 2 for 5 with a homer, a double, an RBI, and a run scored, and Ryan Brett and Cameron Seitzer both went 2 for 5. Tyler Goeddel also stole his 29th base of the season in the loss.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 2, Lowell Spinners (BOS) 1
Business as usual for the Renegades as they won again, extending their 3-game lead in the NYPL McNamara division. There was not much offense to be found in this one, but the Renegades managed to push a pair of runs across. The Renegades scored in the 1st when Joey Rickard walked, advanced to second on a wild pitch, advanced to 3rd on one groundball, and scored on Richie Shaffer‘s grounder to give Hudson Valley a 1-0 lead. Sean Bierman was outstanding for the Renegades, tossing 6 shutout innings before finally letting up a run in the 7th on a Mookie Betts sac fly. Bierman went 7 innings allowing just the 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 6 while walking 1 and posting an 8-5 groundout to flyout ratio. Bierman improved his ERA to 2.75 in 11 professional starts as he has struck out 36 while walking just 5. And thanks to four walks by Spinners pitching in the 8th, Bierman earned a win for the error. New Renegade Jordan Harrison tossed 2 shutout innings in his first Hudson Valley appearance, allowing just 1 hit while striking out 2, for his first professional save. The Renegades managed just 3 hits, 2 of which by Ryan Dunn, who wasn’t even involved in the scoring. Thomas Coyle and Shaffer had the RBIs in the game.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 10, Johnson City Cardinals 2
Just one Rays affiliate changed its fortune on Sunday from its performance on Saturday. And that would be the Princeton Rays. Ariel Soriano had a whole lot to do with that. Soriano had a game he’s going to remember for a while, going 2 for 5 with a double, a homer, 2 stolen bases to give him 16 on the year, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored. He stole two bases without a single in the game! That takes skill. Eli Echarry started for the P-Rays and had a nice outing, going 5 shutout innings allowing just 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 5 and posting a 4-2 groundout to flyout ratio. Princeton actually scored 10 runs and just 9 hits, going 5 for 12 with runners in scoring position. Other than Soriano’s ridiculous game, John Alexander went 3 for 5 with a double and 2 RBI, and Oscar Hernandez, Andrew Toles, and William Argo had the other Princeton RBIs.