The Undercards: Stone Crabs Doubleheader A Scheduler’s Worst Nightmare
By Robbie Knopf
When you watch enough baseball and see enough doubleheaders, it’s inevitable that a certain question will come to mind: what if both games ended up going 15 innings and the two teams ran out of time, energy, and players? Well, now you’ve seen it happen in the case of the Charlotte Stone Crabs on Saturday.
Triple-A International League: Pawtucket Red Sox 9, Durham Bulls 6
Merrill Kelly had his worst Triple-A start and C.J. Riefenhauser had a letdown in his first game back from the Futures Game as the Bulls needed a late rally to just make this one remotely close. Kelly got the start and went 5 innings allowing 6 runs, 5 earned, on 9 hits, striking out 5 while walking 2. After just how well he has pitched (2.57 ERA in 7 starts), Kelly was certainly entitled to a clunker, and it wasn’t nearly the worst start in the world. But Kelly alone didn’t lose this game for the Bulls, at least if we play this game where everything would have been the same except for Riefenhauser’s collapse. Riefenhauser went 1.2 innings allowing 3 runs, 2 earned, on 5 hits, striking out 1 and walking 1. Pairing the pitchers’ performances with 5 errors certainly was not a winning formula for the Bulls on Saturday. There were some offensive fireworks, though, as Leslie Anderson and Tim Beckham homered back-to-back with 2 outs in the 8th inning, with Anderson’s homer being a 2-run shot. Beckham had a great all-around game, going 2 for 3 with that homer and a walk, and Brandon Guyer went 2 for 5 with a double and a run scored while Jesus Flores went 2 for 4 with a double. Guyer has totally disappeared off the radar, but he’s had himself a nice season, managing a .296/.366/.437 line with 19 doubles, 6 homers and 19 stolen bases in 363 plate appearances.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Mobile BayBears (ARI) 3
Enny Romero has always been known in the Rays system as an enigma. But now, he’s changing entirely what people mean when they say that. This game was a perfect example. Romero went 6 innings and allowed just 1 run on 5 hits in earning his 9th win. That’s great. But he also struck out 2 while walking 5. Romero has just a 1.68 ERA in his last 13 starts to lower his ERA to 2.87 on the season. But during that stretch, Romero, known as a strikeout pitcher, has struck out just 49 in 75 innings, a puny 5.9 K/9, while walking 34, a mediocre 4.1 BB/9 that’s disastrous when compared to his strikeout rate. Romero is stranding runners like there’s no tomorrow–but he’s just allowing so many walks! Can Romero only pitch out of the stretch or something? Romero has been compared to Matt Moore for a long time. Right now Romero is pulling off what Moore did at the beginning of the season but to an even more extreme extent they he would not get away with at higher levels.
There were other players in this game and we should probably talk about them too. The Biscuits staked Romero to 4 runs and three key pieces to that were Mikie Mahtook, Mayo Acosta, and Cameron Seitzer. Mahtook went 2 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, an RBI, and 2 runs scored, Acosta went 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI, and Cameron Seitzer just keeps going, managing a 2 for 4 day with an RBI in this one. Pretty amazing what Seitzer has done skipping from Low-A to Double-A as a prospect who wasn’t even so highly-touted, managing a .274/.375/.356 line with 21 doubles and 41 RBI. He hasn’t hit for much power, slamming just 2 home runs, but his 71-52 strikeout to walk ratio is extremely impressive and you have to hope at least passable power will come.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 1, Daytona Cubs 0 (Game 1, 13 innings)
This is not the type of game you want to begin a doubleheader–especially with a nearly 2 hour rain delay in the middle. But fans wanting a pitcher’s duel certainly got one. Felipe Rivero got the start and put up numbers leaving everyone exceedingly confused even as he shut down the Cubs, allowing just a hit and a walk in 6 innings but striking out not a single batter. He did at least manage an 11-3 groundout to flyout ratio, leaving us to surmise that he had great fastball command but no secondary stuff to speak of. But what’s going on with these power pitchers just failing to live up to the billing but still pitching extremely well? Matt Ramsey followed with 2 shutout innings, working around 3 hits with 2 strikeouts, before Shay Crawford pitched extremely well going through the 9th, 10th, and 11th, allowing just 3 hits over the 3 frames while striking out 2. Lenny Linsky got the win as he battled through 2 hits and a walk in the last 2 innings. Kes Carter finally won it on a walk-off single in the 13th set up by a big stolen base by Jake Hager. Carter entered as a pinch-runner in the 7th inning and wound up going 2 for 3 with that huge hit, Jake DePew went 3 for 5, and Jeff Malm went 2 for 5. Richie Shaffer had a quieter game but still a very good one, going 1 for 4 with 2 walks as his hot streak continued.
Charlotte Stone Crabs 2, Daytona Cubs 2 (Game 2, 15 innings)
They just gave up. That’s how dire the circumstances were. It was 12:56 in the morning with no end to the game in sight and two teams collapsing of exhaustion. There are supposed to be no ties in baseball anymore, but this game had to be an exception to that. Wow. The Stone Crabs actually had three starting pitchers in this game. Brandon Gomes made a rehab appearance and went a perfect inning to begin the game as he works his way back into the big league mix. Roberto Gomez, who had been the scheduled starter for Charlotte, followed with 6.2 solid innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and striking out 5 while walking 1. But Matt Loosen also allowed just 2 runs in 6 innings for Daytona, and the game went into extra innings after solid bullpen work. Jacob Partridge went 2.1 no-hit innings for Charlotte to get through the 10th, although he did work around 4 walks, and then the Stone Crabs were down to their last pitcher, Sean Bierman. Luckily Bierman is a starting pitcher by trade and one who has pitched very well, and he wound up going 5 shutout innings allowing just 4 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. Unfortunately, no one on either side could come through with a go-ahead hit, and the game who to end in a tie. Ryan Brett went 3 for 6 with a triple, a walk, a stolen base, and both runs scored for the Stone Crabs, Richie Shaffer went 2 for 6 with a double, a walk, and an RBI, and Drew Vettleson and Luke Bailey both went 2 for 7, with Vettleson also nailing down an outfield assist.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, Beloit Snappers (OAK) 3
What’s more exciting, a 28-inning doubleheader or a walk-off home run? Probably a walk-off home run (although it would have been nice if somebody got ahold of one in that 15-inning game). Ryan Dunn probably had the most exciting moment in the Rays system on Saturday, but compared to what the Stone Crabs went through, his performance was pretty ordinary. Jeff Ames took the ball for Bowling Green and had what only he calls a bad start, going 6 innings allowing 3 runs on 4 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. When you have a 2.43 ERA on the year, a quality start just isn’t good enough. Jose Molina went the final 3 innings in no-hit fashion, but like Partridge, he actually had to work around 4 walks. The offense for the Hot Rods in this game is pretty perplexing at first glance–they pounded out 14 hits yet went a solid 3 for 8 with runners in scoring position and only stranded 6. Where did all the other baserunners go if they didn’t score and weren’t stranded? As it turns out, the Hot Rods grounded into 4 double plays, were caught stealing twice, and Luke Maile got gunned down at home by Aaron Shipman. Ouch. In terms of the individual performances, Dunn was the hero with his walk-off blast in the 9th, but there were 14 hits and he only had 1 of them. Leonardo Reginatto continued his crazy hot streak with his best game yet, going 3 for 4 with 2 triples and a run scored. (Two triples and no RBI? It was that type of game.) Maile, getting caught at home notwithstanding, also had a great game, going 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and 2 RBI, and Thomas Coyle went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, and a run scored. Joey Rickard and Andrew Toles both went 2 for 4 but were the caught stealing victims. This could have been a really frustrating game for the Hot Rods if they had somehow lost, but luckily Ryan Dunn let them off the hook with his walk-off home run–but only after Patrick Leonard had hit into a double play the batter before.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 7, Tri-City ValleyCats (HOU) 5
Had enough yet? Well, if you haven’t, you get to hear about the Renegades coming from a 5-2 deficit with a 5-run 7th to win 7-5. Aaron Griffin had a tough start, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits in 4.2 innings, but the Renegades bullpen was great to give them a chance to come back. Rick Teasley was excellent, going just 1 hit in 3.1 shutout innings, striking out 4 and walking none in the process. And then 2 errors combined with 3 hits in the 7th allowed them to steal this game. Julian Ridings began the inning with a single before an error gave Hudson Valley runners on 2nd and 3rd. A hit batsman loaded the bases before Oscar Hernandez made it a 5-4 game with a 2-run single. A safety squeeze failed before a Darryl George groundout tied the game. Then Granden Goetzman gave the Renegades the lead with an RBI double before scoring himself when he stole third base and took home on a throwing error by the catcher. A lucky inning it was, but definitely a clutch one. Goetzman had a huge game, going 3 for 4 with a triple, a double, 2 RBI, and 2 runs scored. He was missing only a homer for the cycle. Ridings and George both had two hits and a run scored as well, with Ridings stealing a base and George driving in a run.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Kingsport Mets 5, Princeton Rays 3
If there hasn’t been enough perplexing games in this minor league recap, get a load of this one. The P-Rays scored 3 runs on only 1 hit! Princeton reached base in any way just 8 times all game, and 5 of them came in the 3rd inning. Yoel Araujo walked and stole a base before Travis Flores was hit by a pitch, but the rally basically died there when Coty Blanchard bunting into a force out at 3rd and Spencer Edwards flied out. But Bralin Jackson walked to load the bases before Hunter Lockwood hit a groundball to third that went for a 2-run error. And David Garcia followed with the P-Rays’ only hit of the game, a 2-out RBI single. The Princeton bullpen allowed 4 runs in the 8th and lost anyway, but wow. Jacob Faria did have an excellent start for Princeton, going 6 innings allowing just 1 run on 2 hits, striking out 7 while walking none.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Orioles 4, GCL Rays 1
The game began with a pretty darn good pitching matchup for Rookie bal as Orioles rehabbing right-hander Steve Johnson took on Rays rehabbing lefty Grayson Garvin. Garvin hasn’t played in the majors yet, but he was a supplemental round pick in 2011 making his way back from Tommy John Surgery. In any event, the big leaguer delivered the better rehab start to help lead the Orioles to the win. Johnson went 2 no-hit innings, striking out 3 while walking 1, dominating like a big leaguer should at Rookie ball, but Garvin just started his recovery a couple of weeks ago and struggled, allowing 2 runs on 1 hit in just two-thirds of an inning, striking out 1 while walking 2. Garvin, a 6’6″ lefty out of Vanderbilt exactly like David Price, was advanced enough to begin his professional career at High-A last season, and you have to hope he can find a way to get back on track. Christopher Crisostomo followed with a decent outing, going 4.1 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 5 hits, striking out none while walking 1 but forcing a 10-1 groundout to flyout ratio. The GCL Rays’ third starting pitcher of the game, Ruben Paredes, turned out to be the best as he allowed just 2 hits in 4 innings, striking out 1 and walking 1 but managing a 9-0 groundout to flyout ratio. There was little happening on the offensive side, though, as Taylor Hawkins was the only player who could say he had a good game. He went 2 for 3 with the only run scored.