The complete game column can be misleading in minor league baseball. Whenever there is a doubleheader, both games are reduced to just 7 innings, giving pitchers an easier opportunity to go the distance. But don’t let the “just” 7 innings take anything away from Jacob Faria‘s marvelous outing on Wednesday afternoon.
Double-A Southern League: Huntsville Stars (MIL) 8, Montgomery Biscuits 4
Little went right for the Biscuits in this game as Huntsville won easily. It was incredible that the Biscuits even got 4 runs in this game–they did so on just 5 hits. The offense came from Taylor Motter, who drilled a 2-run homer, and Richie Shaffer, who had an RBI triple. Motter is off to a great start, managing a .326/.361/.535 line in what is looking like a breakout year. Shaffer’s story, though, is a little more amusing. Not a player known for his speed, he somehow has 4 triples already this season. On the mound, Victor Mateo allowed 4 runs in 4 innings of work and Jacob Thompson allowed 3 more in his 2 frames. Santiago Garrido did follow with 2 innings of 1-hit ball to lower his ERA to 1.64 in 11 innings pitched. Sluggish game for the Biscuits here, but don’t worry–everything gets more exciting below.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Bradenton Marauders (PIT) 1
Leonel Santiago‘s Rays organizational debut has been a total disaster. In his previous three starts entering Wednesday, he had allowed 21 runs, 19 earned, in just 10.2 innings pitched. How long were the Rays going to tolerate that? Santiago desperately needed a good outing, and he got it here. Santiago went 5 innings allowing just an unearned run on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking 2. Kevin Brandt and Parker Markel finished off the game behind him, working around 4 hits to pitch shutout ball. Brandt struck out 3 while Markel forced a quartet of groundball outs.
In terms of the offense, Justin O’Conner continued his recent hot streak with a 2-run homer as part of a 2 for 5 day. He isn’t walking at all, managing just a .287 OBP and a 26-2 strikeout to walk ratio, but he has a .265 average and a .446 slugging now after hitting .356 with an insane 8 extra-base hits in his last 10 games. Showing a better all-around approach at the plate was another hitting who has had a great year, Patrick Leonard. Leonard, who we talked about yesterday, went 2 for 4 with a 2-run triple, a walk, and a run scored. He also stole his first base of the year. Leonardo Reginatto, Marty Gantt, and Hector Guevara also had multiple hits for the Stone Crabs, with the former two also stealing a base each. Great all-around game for the Stone Crabs, who have 7 of their last 9 games to get within 2 games of .500.
Low-A Midwest League Game 1: Bowling Green Hot Rods 4, South Bend Silver Hawks (ARI) 0 (7 innings)
Game 2: Hot Rods 13, Silver Hawks 7 (7 innings)
In the day game, it was all about Jacob Faria. The 20 year old retired the first 16 batters he faced before allowing his first hit, and the loss of the perfect game did not rattle him one bit. Faria allowed just that 1 hit over 7 innings, striking out 6 while walking none. The Rays have brought along Faria very slowly, keeping him at Princeton for both 2012 and 2013, and he is making their patience pay off right now. In five starts, he has 1.98 ERA and a 22-3 strikeout to walk ratio in 27.1 innings pitched. He was a pitcher who stood out for his projection, and now he is finally turning his potential into results. Alexander Simon, Kean Wong, and Armando Araiza each had 2 hits for the Hot Rods and accounted for all four of the RBIs to give Faria to support he needed.
Then the nightcap was almost precisely the opposite as the Hot Rods used 5 home runs to win in a slugfest. Ty Young had his 7-game hit streak snapped in the first game, but he made up for it with a grand slam in this one. He has been incredible in his last 10 games, hitting to a .375/.500/.594 with 8 RBI and a 5-8 strikeout to walk ratio. The other home runs came from Ariel Soriano, Oscar Hernandez, Pat Blair, and Yoel Araujo. Wednesday was Soriano’s first day on the Hot Rods’ roster and he wound up going 2 for 5 with a 2-run homer and 2 walks. Not a shabby way to start. Blair and Darryl George also had 3 hits for the Hot Rods, with George raising his average to an insane .355. Just a couple weeks after they lost 13 straight games, suddenly the Hot Rods are clicking on all cylinders. They may be just 9-16 now, but if they keep playing like this, the rest of the Midwest League better watch out.