The Undercards: Wil Myers Slams Go-Ahead Homer, Matt Buschmann K’s 9 in Durham Victory
By Robbie Knopf
It’s always a very funny experience trying to come up with a title for these Minor League Recap pieces. Often I’m combing all the stats from every single game looking for something I could possibly make the headline. Saturday, though, was the exact opposite. Everything happened and there were three games that each deserved a headline, and of couse I only went with Wil Myers because he is, well, Wil Myers. In any event, enjoy an action-packed edition of The Undercards.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Indianapolis Indians (PIT) 2
Matt Buschmann‘s career ERA at Triple-A is just 6.69. Despite being 29 years old now, he had just never found a way to figure out the level and his career was going nowhere. You can’t say that anymore as Bushmann turned in his fourth straight strong appearance for Triple-A Durham, the last three starts, and although he didn’t receive the win, he certainly had a major impact in the Bulls winning this game. Buschmann went 5.1 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 3 hits, striking out 9 while walking 4. His control wasn’t at its greatest, but he pitched very well again, lowering his Triple-A ERA to 2.04 with a 21-7 strikeout to walk ratio in 17.2 innings pitched. In an organization that didn’t have as much pitching depth, he might be pushing for a big league rotation slot, but nevertheless he might get a chance to debut in the majors by the time the season ends. Buschmann departed with the Bulls down 2-1, but while the Durham Bulls kept Indianapolis off the board, the Bulls rallied for 1 the 7th and 2 in the 8th to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 winning margin. The 8th inning runs came in quite exciting fashion as Wil Myers slammed a go-ahead 2-run home run to give the Bulls the lead. It was the exclamation point on another great day for Myers as he went 3 for 4. He’s down to homering every third game, but Rays fans will certainly take that. Anyone want to call this guy up? Vince Belnome also went 3 for 4 in the win.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 7, Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 6
This game was wild, but the Biscuits came through when it mattered most as they won 7-6. Mike Colla was pitching great for Montgomery in his second start in the Rays organization, but he allowed 1 run in the 5th before 5 more crossed in the 6th as he wound up allowing 6 runs in 5.1 innings and leaving trailing 6-0. However, the Biscuits bullpen found better success and the Montgomery offense had a rally in their bones, tallying 5 runs in the 8th and 2 more in the 9th to emerge victorious by a 7-6 score. Shawn O’Malley had a huge 2-run triple, Kevin Kiermaier had 2 RBI including the game-winner in the 9th, Mark Thomas went 2 for 3 with an RBI double, and Robby Price went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. You always want to score in the first 7 innings, but who ever gets enough of late rallies?
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 5, Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 1
The issue with vying for a combined no-hitter is that everyone has to be on the top of their game for it to actually happen. Nobody cares much about 2 out of 3 without even a shutout, but that’s what the Hot Rods had to settle for. Jeff Ames got the start and was marvelous if not dominant, going 5 no-hit innings striking out 2 while walking 1. Then, after Ryan Garton allowed 2 hits and a run in working the 6th and 7th, Matt Ramsey was perfect in the last 2 frames, striking out 2. If only Garton was up to speed. Ames lowered his ERA to an incredible 2.47 with the performance, and while he’s not striking out many batters on the season, K’ing just 42 in 58.1 innings (6.5 K/9), he has walked just 10 (1.5 BB/9). With better command, the strikeout rate should only go up. Ramsey has been unbelievable in his first full season following Tommy John Surgery, managing a 1.35 ERA and a 28-7 strikeout to walk ratio in 20 innings pitched. In terms of the position players, Justin O’Conner continues to star at the plate even as he struggles behind it, going 2 for 3 with a walk and 3 runs scored even though he made 2 errors and allowed a passed ball, and Andrew Toles went 2 for 5 with 2 stolen bases and an RBI while Marty Gantt went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Toles has 40 stolen bases in 60 games on the season, enough to place him 5th in the minor league and give him nearly double the amount of his nearest competitor in the Rays organization (Bowling Green teammate Tommy Coyle with 23). Wow.