It doesn’t matter what level you’re at–getting the nod in Game 1 of the postseason is something special. Your manager is trusting you not just to start a big game but to set the tone for an entire series, and that’s a major responsibility. In the major leagues, that Game 1 starter is your ace. In the minor leagues however, starting in Game 1 could be just as much be a hope for things to come as a reflection of a season’s worth of games. Felipe Rivero has nearly the stuff of a David Price or a Matt Moore and a chance to be a topflight major league pitcher. In his Game 1 start for the Stone Crabs, he showed everyone just a bit of the reason why.
Florida State League Playoffs Game 1: Charlotte Stone Crabs 1, Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 0
Blowouts can be fun, but pitching wins championships (or at least that’s what the baseball gods told us). The pitching was most certainly there for the Stone Crabs in this game as they 3-hit Fort Myers in their 1-0 victory. Felipe Rivero got the start for Charlotte and wasn’t quite dominant but certainly prevented the Miracle for getting much. Rivero went 6 innings allowing no runs on just 2 hits, striking out just 2 while walking 3 but forcing an 11-4 groundout to flyout ratio. Despite a 3.40 ERA this season taht is nearly identical from his 3.41 mark from last year, Rivero saw his strikeout to walk ratio dip from 3.38-to-1 in 2012 to 1.75-to-1 in the 2013 regular season. But no statement against his stuff, and Rivero can be extremely difficult to hit even when his command of his pitches isn’t entirely precise. Andrew Bellatti followed with 2 perfect innings, striking out 1, before Nate Garcia worked around a hit with 2 strikeouts in the 9th for the save. Rivero, Bellatti, and Garcia was about as good as you’ll see, and it was a good thing they were because the Stone Crabs offense got just 1 run. Jeff Malm came through with the only RBI on a 2-out RBI single in the 6th as part of a 1 for 2 day with a walk. Drew Vettleson also went 2 for 4 in the victory. Great to see Rivero, the pitching, and that RBI from Malm get the Stone Crabs’ playoff run off to a great start.
Short Season-A New York-Penn League: Hudson Valley Renegades 5, Connecticut Tigers 1
On the opposite edge of the spectrum, the Renegades’ seasonis drawing to a close. However, they’re making these last few games count. They had an ousttanding season opener on Tuesday, with Derek Loera striking out 9 in six 1-hit innings and Granden Goetzman hitting a home run. Then in this game, they experienced similarly exciting results. Jaime Schultz started for Hudson Valley and was good, going 3 innings allowing 1 run on 1 hit, striking out 5 while walking 3. Colton Reavis was even better and actually pitched longer than his team’s starter, going 4 innings allowing just 1 hit, striking out 2 while walking 1. And Brad Schreiber finished off the game with 2 no-hit innings, also striking out 2 and walking 1. The Renegades’ pitching staff wasn’t too flashy but kept the Tigers down. The offense, on the other hand, showed a little more pizzazz, and at the forefront was a newcomer, Thomas Milone. The Rays’ third round pick in this year’s draft got the call from the GCL Rays for this game and was very impressive, going 1 for 2 with a solo home run and 2 runs scored. Milone homered in his first Short Season-A game after not going deep in 40 GCL games. Also homering was Ariel Soriano, who went 2 for 4 with a homer, a double, and 2 RBI, and John Alexander, who finally homered for the first time in his 65th game of the year. Tough that the Renegades were unable to defend their 2012 New York-Penn League title, but it’s exciting to see them playing his well, and hopefully these players can take their success with them into next season.