The Tampa Bay Rays always emphasize putting together a strong 25-man roster, but one reason that they are so consistently good is because of their ability to put together a strong Triple-A team. Through multiple minor-league signings each offseason, the Rays are always stockpiled with experienced depth that is ready to fill in seamlessly with the big league club in the event of injuries. Their ability to put together a Triple-A club full of quality veterans showed today, as experienced minor-league signees Erik Bedard, Justin Christian, Wilson Betemit, and Ray Olmedo all helped the Durham Bulls to an 8-1 win, and minor league signees Mike Colla and Santiago Garrido also contributed to the Montgomery Biscuits.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 8, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 1
Erik Bedard was signed to a minor-league deal by the Rays this spring and headed to Triple-A as a depth option. He thought that he would be around for a while until a big league opportunity arose, but little did he know that Monday’s start might be his only one in the minor leagues before that opportunity indeed presented itself. Matt Moore left Monday’s big league game with elbow soreness, and a 15-day DL stint is likely, with Bedard being the most logical candidate replace him in the rotation. Bedard was solid on the day, going 4.0 innings while giving up just one run and throwing 40 of his 60 pitches for strikes, leading to five strikeouts. Juan Carlos Oviedo came in to relieve Bedard with a perfect inning, and he is now that much closer to being ready to be activated from the 15-day DL and placed in the big league bullpen. Merrill Kelly, who would be Bedard’s Triple-A rotation replacement if he was indeed called up, and Steve Geltz combined to shut the Knights down over the next four innings, with Kelly earning the win.
Offensively, Justin Christian lead off the bottom of the 1st with a solo home run, but the Bulls would hardly stop there. Jerry Sands added a solo shot of his own in the 6th to make it 3-1, but the Bulls would go on to really break out in the 8th. Aided by doubles from Christian, Sands, and Wilson Betemit, the Bulls would score five runs in the inning to ensure that the Knights could not mount a comeback. Christian, Sands, Betemit, and Olmedo all finished 2-4 on the day, and Kevin Kiermaier also added a 1-4 performance with two runs scored. Overall, a strong showing by a deep Bulls’ club.
Double-A Southern League: Game 1: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Birmingham Barons (CHW) 3. Game 2: Barons 8, Montgomery 5
The Biscuits and Barons were forced to play a pair of seven inning games thanks to Sunday’s rainout. In game one, Mike Colla got the start and gave up three runs in his four innings of work. Offseason acquisition Matt Lollis looked strong, throwing 2.0 innings while allowing no runs and striking out three. Santiago Garrido earned the save with a perfect 7th inning. The Biscuits offense didn’t look too special, as they only managed five hits, but those hits came at the right time (something the big league club could take notes on). The Biscuits scored all of their runs in the 3rd when Jake Hager got things going with a double. Taylor Motter tripled to drive him in and proceeded to steal home to get the Biscuits their first two runs. Richie Shaffer then finished off the Biscuits’ scoring with a two-run homer that also drove in Cameron Seitzer.
In Game two, the Biscuits were not so fortunate. Grayson Garvin earned the loss, but it was hardly his fault as he allowed just one run in his three innings. It was the Biscuits bullpen that allowed the game to get out of reach, as Jimmy Patterson allowed three runs and Braulio Lara allowed four. To their defense, the two relievers were likely asked to throw more pitches than they are used to thanks to the double-header. The offense made a valiant effort in the bottom of the 7th, plating five runs thanks in-part to a Riccio Torrez triple and a Ryan Brett double, but ultimately the deficit was too much to overcome. Motter continued a strong start to the season, going 2-4 with an RBI, and Luke Maile added a 2-4 performance of his own, but it was not enough to make up for the poor pitching performance.
Both High-A Port Charlotte and Low-A Bowling Green had scheduled off-days