The Undercards: Jeff Ames Tosses 5 No-Hit Innings as Hot Rods 1-Hit Lansing
By Robbie Knopf
There’s an art to the blowout. For Rays fans used to pitching duels, they may not appreciate high-scoring games as much as other fans, but it’s always satisfying to see your offense clicking on all cylinders. Being on the wrong end of a blowout? That’s a whole other story.
Triple-A International League: Gwinnett Braves 2, Durham Bulls 0
Mike Montgomery and the Durham staff was solid in this one, but the offense was nowhere to be found. Montgomery had an abbreviated outing but pitched OK, going 4.2 innings allowing 2 runs on 4 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2 and forcing a 6-1 groundout to flyout ratio. Montgomery has a 3.62 ERA in 54.2 Triple-A IP as his bounce-back season continues. Steve Geltz followed with 1.1 hitless frames before Jeff Beliveau allowed just 1 hit while striking out 4 in the last two innings. In terms of the offense, it was basically just Ryan Roberts, who went 2 for 4. Tough loss for the Bulls, who drop to 55-35 on the year.
Double-A Southern League Doubleheader: Mobile BayBears (ARI) 8, Montgomery Biscuits 2; Mobile 12, Montgomery 3 (Both 7 innings)
This was a doubleheader of horrors for the Biscuits. In Game 1, Enny Romero allowed 5 runs in 5 innings before Austin Hubbard allowed 3 more in the 6th. Romero allowed 5 runs on 8 hits, striking out 6 while walking 4. Romero’s 6 K’s were his most since May 20th, but his lack of control finally caught up with him as he allowed more than 2 earned runs for just the second time since May 15th. Riccio Torrez had two hits in the loss.
Game 2 saw Mike Colla struggle as well for the Biscuits, allowing 6 runs, 4 earned, in 5 innings, but that was nothing compared to what happened to Braulio Lara as he allowed the same 6 runs, 4 earned, in just a third of an inning. Every time Lara seems to be hitting a grove, an outing like this makes you wonder whether we’re just wasting our time. The Biscuits did have a few offensive heroes in this one to prevent Saturday from being a totally dark day. Todd Glaesmann went 3 for 4 with an RBI, Cameron Seitzer went 2 for 3 with a homer and a walk, and Hector Guevara went 2 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. Seitzer has had himself a great season, but it was just his second home run. Torrez had a bizarre nightcap, going just 0 for 1 as he got hit by two pitches and delivered a sac fly.
High-A Florida State League: Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 5, Charlotte Stone Crabs 4
The Stone Crabs rallied to take a 4-3 lead with 4 runs in the 6th, but the bullpen was spotty and the offense couldn’t contribute anything else as Bradenton pulled out the win. Ryan Carpenter took the ball for Charlotte and went 5 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. Shay Crawford pitched well between struggles by Eliazer Suero and Nate Garcia, tossing 1.2 shutout innings. A couple Stone Crabs did have nice offensive games, with Jeff Malm going 2 for 4 with 2 doubles and 2 runs scored, and Richie Shaffer going 2 for 4 with a double, an RBI, and a run scored. Malm is scorching hot as he has done a nice job overcoming a rough start to the year, hitting .371 in his last 10 games.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 1, Lansing Lugnuts (TOR) 0
In a season filled with memorable wins for the Hot Rods, this game specifically stands out. Jeff Malm was unhittable for Bowling Green, not allowing a single hit in 5 shutout innings, striking out 7 while walking 2. It was the second time in four starts that Ames didn’t allow a run in 5 innings of work, and he hasn’t allowed a run across 21 innings in his last 5 starts. Ryan Garton followed and was excellent in a career-high 4 innings in relief, allowing just 1 hit, striking out 3 while walking 1, and managing a 6-1 groundout to flyout ratio. He did let the combined no-hitter end in the 7th inning, but a 1-hitter is still something to smile about. Garton has been a little enigmatic this year, managing a 3.46 ERA compared to just 2.00 last year at Hudson Valley, but he’s tossed scoreless ball across 8.2 IP in his last 6 appearances as he’s really getting going as well. On the offensive side, the Hot Rods blew opportunities as they scored just once while leaving 10 men on base, but Tommy Coyle came through with the only RBI in the 3rd, going 2 for 2 with a double, a walk, and his 27th steal. Andrew Toles and Leonardo Reginatto both went 2 for 4. Great to see Ames and Garton dominate, and luckily the offense was able to get that run across.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 9, Staten Island Yankees 4 (12 innings)
Can’t usually say this, but looking at the score and how many innings this game took sums up pretty well how wild this game was. Austin Pruitt finally allowed his first pro runs in his 4th start as he struggled a little bit, allowing 3 runs on 7 hits in 4 innings, but the Renegades’ pitching was pretty incredible after that. Kevin Brandt allowed just 1 run on 3 hits in the next 5 innings, striking out 5 while walking 2, while Jamie Schultz was utterly dominant, allowing not a single hit and striking out 8 while walking 1 in the final 3 innings. Schultz has had control issues in his pro debut, walking 10 in 10.1 innings, but when he’s locked in, he can be something. On the offensive side, Ariel Soriano had a huge game, going 2 for 4 with 2 homers and 4 RBI, and it was Oscar Hernandez who was responsible for that 5-spot in the 12th as he hit a grand slam. Hernandez was just 1 for 5 with a walk on the day, but he somehow picked two more runners off first base with his rocket arm. Bizarre game, but at the end of the day it was quite a win for the Renegades.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Burlington Royals 14, Princeton Rays 7
Would you believe that the P-Rays got a decent start from Jacob Faria and actually led 6-3 after 4 innings? Neither would I. Faria went 4 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 6 hits in 4 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1. Then the Royals scored 9 runs in the 5th. Ouch. Travis Flores did have a grand slam, and Hunter Lockwood, Jesus Araiza, Coty Blanchard, and Elias Torres all had multi-hit games in the loss.
Rookie Gulf Coast League Doubleheader: GCL Rays 1, GCL Orioles 0; GCL Orioles 7, GCL Rays 6 (Both 7 innings)
Certainly mixed results in this doubleheader, but the good news was that the pitching prospects starred in the first game while the position players stood out in the second. Jose Castillo got the start in Game 1 and was literally perfect, retiring all nine batters he faced in order including 3 strikeouts and 4 groundouts. The highly-touted Venezuelan lefty has allowed just 1 earned run in his first 7.2 pro innings. Jose Mujica, quite a prospect himself, allowed just 1 hit in his 3 innings, striking out 2 while walking none. Jeremy Hadley had the only RBI on a 4th-inning double.
Jose Alonzo took the ball for the GCL Rays in Game 2 and was solid, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits in 4 innings, striking out 4 while walking 1, but it was all downhill from there. The good news was that Clayton Henning and Taylor Hawkins, the 11th and 12th round picks by the Rays in last year’s draft who both are far more talented than the draft slots and dipped because of signability concerns, showed just how good they can be. Henning went 2 for 3 with 2 doubles, a walk, a stolen base, and an RBI while Hawkins went 2 for 5 with 2 doubles, 3 RBI, and a run scored. Cristian Toribio, another sleeper prospect who broke out in the Dominican Summer League last year, went 2 for 4.