Erik Bedard has been an admirable rotation fill-in for the Rays this season, but he has struggled as of late, putting up a 7.66 ERA in his last 5 starts. The Rays have been hoping that Jeremy Hellickson could take over Bedard’s spot, but he has struggled in his rehab and thus Bedard has remained in the rotation. But finally on Thursday, Hellickson experienced the rehab start that he desperately needed.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Gwinnett Braves 3
Jeremy Hellickson has experienced a rough go of things while rehabbing at Triple-A. In his first three starts, he gave up 4 or more runs in each outing. Then things looked to be going up in his 4th start, but he would leave after just 3 innings with elbow discomfort. Now Hellickson finally experienced the rehab start he needed, going 5.2 innings and allowing 2 runs while throwing 86 pitches. He also struck out 4, walking 2. This might finally be the start Hellickson needed to prove to the Rays he is ready to be back in the big leagues. After Hellickson, Merrill Kelly, C.J. Riefenhauser, and Josh Lueke combined to throw the final 3.1 scoreless innings in relief.
Offensively, Justin Christian had a nice day at the plate, going 2-4 with a pair of doubles. Christian has now smacked 5 hits in his last 2 games, 4 of which have been for extra bases. Mikie Mahtook added a nice performance, going 2-4 with an RBI, and Jayson Nix would go 2-3 with a walk and a run scored. Also of note was that Ali Solis left the game with an apparent hand injury. The seriousness of the injury is not yet known, but if he misses any time it would hurt the Rays catching depth.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 3 in 16 innings
This game may not have been a slugfest, but the offense still made it exciting. The teams traded runs in the 4th before the Smokies would take the lead in the 7th. Cameron Seitzer accounted for one of those runs in the 4th with a solo home run before homering again in the top of the 9th to tie the game up. The teams headed into extras, both of them scoring runs in the 12th to keep the game tied. Finally in the 16th, Taylor Motter‘s home run but the Biscuits ahead and the Smokies were unable to answer in the bottom half of the inning. Seitzer was the only Biscuit with multiple hits, but they were both meaningful. His 2 home runs on the day gives him 11 on the year, 5 of which have come in the last 7 games alone. Pitching wise, Mike Colla had the good start that he has lacked for quite a while going 6.0 innings and allowing just 1 run. Matt Ramsey, Santiago Garrido, Matt Lollis, and Bryce Stowell all threw multiple innings in relief, with only Lollis allowing a run from the group.
High-A Florida State League: St. Lucie Mets 7, Charlotte Stone Crabs 4
Jordan Harrison returned from injury, and rather than doing it at Bowling Green where he had previously been pitching, he did it a level up at Charlotte. He had a solid start, going 5.0 innings and allowing 1 run. But behind him, Zach Cooper could only get 2 outs while allowing 5 runs before Marcus Jensen allowed a run in 1.1 innings. At least Parker Markel had a good outing in relief, throwing 2.0 shutout innings. Tyler Goeddell had a good day at the plate, going 2-3 with a walk and a pair of RBIs. Patrick Leonard added a 2-5 performance and 2 runs scored, but the offense couldn’t make up for the bullpen’s struggles.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 8, Lake County Captains (CLE) 5
Brudelin Suero had a mixed start, allowing 12 hits and 4 runs, but still lasting 7.2 innings. Luis Cabrera would then allow a run in 1.1 innings of relief. It was the offense that deserves credit for this win, as they pounded out 15 hits en route to 8 runs. Oscar Hernandez led the way, going 3-4 with 3 doubles, 4 RBIs, and a run scored. Hernandez still has a ways to go in his development, but he has shown good offensive and defensive ability as a catcher this season. Johnny Field also had a great day, going 3-5 with a home run and 3 runs scored. Spencer Edwards, Kean Wong, and Ty Young would all also add 2-hit performances in a great day for the offense.