Nov 2, 2013; Surprise, AZ, USA; Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Mike Montgomery against the West during the Fall Stars Game at Surprise Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Rays farmhands went 3-1 last night, with the two higher teams winning easily, and the two lower levels playing in close contests. The highlight of the night was the pitching of Jared Mortensen, who tossed five innings of shutout ball for Montgomery as they continue their roll.
Triple-A International League: Durahm Bulls 5 – Gwinnett Braves (ATL) 1
The Bulls got five strong innings from Mike Montgomery, in which he only allowed three hits, one run and struck out five to lower his season ERA to 0.90. The Bulls bullpen – Jeff Beliveau, C.J. Riefenhauser and Kirby Yates – combined for four innings of complete shutdown ball, allowing just one hit and striking out five.
Offensively, Justin Christian delivered the most damage, going 2-for-4 from the plate, knocking home two runs, and coming across the plate himself. Mikie Mahtook also had a 2-for-4 night, and had an RBI of his own.
The Bulls opened the season by splitting a four game series with the G-Braves, and made it an unpleasant opening night in metro-Atlanta for Braves fans.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 6 – Mobile BayBears (ARI) 1
The Biscuits’ pitching staff combined to allow five hits and just one run in a five-run Montgomery victory. Starting for the Biscuits was Jared Mortensen, who threw five innings of shutout ball, and did wonders with working around base runners, as he gave up just two hits, but walked four. Braulio Lara was first out of the ‘pen, and allowed the lone BayBears run in the bottom of the seventh. In Lara’s two innings of work, he also allowed two hits as well as struck out three. Matt Lollis was called upon to finish the game out, and did just that, also going two innings and striking out three like Lara, and allowed just a single hit, and nothing else.
In the box, the Biscuits knocked 12 hits, with Taylor Motter, Cameron Seitzer, Willie Argo and Jeff Malm each recording multi-hit games, Seitzer also recording a multi-RBI game, and Ryan Brett and Argo each crossed the plate twice. Six of Montgomery’s starting nine had at least one hit, and in the field, the Biscuits played errorless ball.
The win is Montgomery’s second in a row, and the third in their last four games.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte StoneCrabs 6 – Palm Beach Cardinals (STL) 5
The StoneCrabs came out of the gates fast and furious, scoring six times in their first inning of offense, and had to hold off the Palm Beach Cardinals the rest of the way, barley hanging on to take the victory. Four StoneCrabs recorded multi-hit nights – Andrew Toles, Patrick Leonard, Kes Carter and Tyler Goeddel – with all of them but Goeddel coming across the plate at least once. Rays newcomer Maxx Tissenbaum and Carter both knocked in two runs each.
Reinaldo Lopez got the start for Charlotte, and gave up four runs (three of them earned) over his five innings pitched. Lopez also gave up five hits, struck out a pair and walked three, as well as giving up a home run in the second. Marcus Jensen closed out the final four innings, and allowed just a single run on three hits and two walks, while also recording two Ks.
The win is just the second of the year for Jared Sandberg in his new digs with Charlotte, and it ends a six game losing streak.
Low-A Midwest League: Peoria Chiefs (STL) 6 – Bowling Green Hot Rods 5
If it’s not one thing, it’s another for Michael Johns and his Hot Rods. After finally getting some offense following a poor offensive showing against Burlington, it’s the pitching that isn’t able to hold up against the Peoria Chiefs, as the Chiefs mount the comeback in the opening game of the weekend series. All six runs were charged to Hot Rod’s starter Chris Kirsch, who gave up nine hits to accompany the runs in four innings of work, while striking out a pair and walking one. The bullpen, however, gave the Hot Rods a fighting chance, as Ian Kendall and Aaron Griffin combined for four innings of three hit ball and five strikeouts.
Offensively, Bowling Green knocked five hits, and center fielder Johnny Field was the owner of two of them, including his first home run of the year in the top of the third inning to open the scoring for the game. Second baseman Kean Wong had another strong day at the plate, reaching base twice and coming in to score both times. The Hot Rods showed great patience at times, working the Chiefs pitching staff to allow six walks, and at other times, not so much, as Bowling Green also struck out six times.
The Hot Rods won the first two games of the season, and haven’t won since. If they can find a way to couple strong pitching with some timely hitting and run support, things will get back on track.