The Undercards: Hak-Ju Lee Shows Signs of Life
By Edward Guetti
Alex Colome must have had an odd day. His scheduled start yesterday was postponed just in case the Rays traded David Price. Maybe it was the extra day off, or maybe it was extra adrenaline produced waiting for a phone call that never came, but Colome pitched very well for Durham today. The Montgomery Biscuits continues to struggle at the plate, but the Charlotte Stone Crabs and Bowling Green Hot Rods put up some crooked numbers on the scoreboard. Hak-Ju Lee has now strung together two multi-hit games, and he’s hitting .308 in his last 8 games. It seems that Lee’s woeful batting numbers are due for an improvement. Meanwhile, the GCL Rays managed to not let one slip through their fingers.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 4, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 1
Hak-Ju Lee drove in two runs, getting hits in each of his first two plate appearances. After his first hit, Lee stole second and was driven home by Justin Christian (who went 1 for 5 coming off of two consecutive 3-hit games). Geared up for a major league start that never manifested, Alex Colome pitched a great game for the Bulls, allowing only 1 hit and 3 walks through his first 5 innings. He finished going 7 innings allowing only a run on 2 hits, walking a rather startling 5 while striking out 5 as well. Along with Lee, Mikie Mahtook, Vince Belnome, and Jayson Nix each had two-hit games. Josh Lueke pitched a perfect 9th, striking out the side, for his 7th save. Lueke, who started the season out at the major-league level, has not been doing well recently: 13 hits and 4 walks in his last 11.1 innings. During that time, he has struck out 15 batters, but his unimpressive WHIP does not warrant a second stint in the majors this year, especially if the Rays are serious about making a run.
Double-A Southern League: Jacksonville Suns (MIA) 5, Montgomery Biscuits 3
The Biscuits only eked out 4 hits and 2 walks off of Jacksonville’s staff. Taylor Motter, Cameron Seitzer, and Leonardo Reginatto were all non-presences for Montgomery as not one got on base. Jeff Malm homered in the ninth well after the game was already decided, while Luke Maile doubled earlier in the game. Montgomery starter Victor Mateo gave up 8 hits (including a homer), 2 walks, and 4 earned runs over 7 innings. Motter and Malm also each had fielding errors, and, of course, any error is fatal when your team can only scrape together 4 hits.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 9, Tampa Yankees 4
The Stone Crabs’ offense exploded for 7 runs on 7 hits in the fourth to win this game. Marty Gantt, Juniel Querecuto, and Granden Goetzman manufactured three singles in a row before Johnny Fields doubled them all home. Tommy Coyle and Patrick Leonard both followed with singles before Justin O’Conner walked and Tyler Goeddel hit a ground-rule double. Stone Crabs starter Jared Mortensen struck out 9, but only went 4 innings, and thus was ineligible for the win. Ryan Garton picked it up instead with 3 innings of moderate relief. Garton struck out 3 but allowed 4 hits and 2 runs in 3 innings of work. O’Conner had a 3-hit day (including a double) and has been mashing the ball since the FSL All-Star break, hitting to a .292/.345/.566 line with 6 homers, 9 doubles, and 20 RBI in 28 games.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 10, South Bend SIlver Hawks (ARI) 1
Bowling Green capitalized in the first off of control problems from Blake Perry, South Bend’s starter. Perry walked 3 Hot Rods and gave up a single to Alexander Simon before James Harris hit an inside-the-park grand slam. Harris has been on a hot streak for his last 10 games, but he has not displayed a lick of power (other than his rather rare grand slam). Oscar Hernandez and Kean Wong, two of the offensive standouts for the Hot Rods, each had doubles. On the pitching side, Chris Kirsch had a great start for Bowling Green, going 8 innings and allowing only 1 run 4 hits, striking out 4 in the process. Kirsch is hovering around .500 in terms of wins and losses, but has a 2.70 ERA over the course of the season and an ERA closer to 1.00 since the All-Star Break. Kirsch, a 22 year old lefty, has been improving. He’s gone at least 5 innings in each start dating back through May, and has only allowed 1 homer in his last 10 starts (61.2 innings) en route to winning 4 games in a row.
Advanced Rookie Appalachian League: Princeton Rays 4, Bristol Pirates 2
It wasn’t a great day for the Princeton offense. Thomas Milone and Cristian Toribio were the only P-Rays with more than one hit, though Carter Burgess was on-base three times. Nick Ciuffo walked and scored in the second inning off a Toribio single. Trevor Lubking got the win, going 5 innings, but did not pitch very well. Lubking allowed 5 hits (including a homer) and a walk over those 5 innings Mario Fernandez, however, was effective in earning a hold, striking out 6 and only giving up 2 hits in 3 innings of wokr.
Rookie Gulf Coast League: GCL Rays 4, GCL Twins 2 (14 innings)
The GCL Rays appeared to have given this game away. After putting up two runs to start the game, though, they were shut down until the top of the 14th. Cade Gotta doubled and advanced on a wild pitch in the first inning before being plated by Christian Knott. Knott then stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error before scoring on an RBI single by Chris DeMorais. The GCL Twins really showed some grit and toughness getting back into the game as the Grays seemed to forget how to hit. In the top of the 14th inning, however, Matt Reida had a one-out single, advanced two bases on a botched pickoff attempt, and scored on a bases loaded walk. GCL Rays starter Junior Feliz pitched decently well, going 5 innings, allowing 1 run on 3 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. Cristopher Crisostomo got the win for the Grays after Alberto Casanas had the statistically unusual 5 inning blown save despite pitching better than Feliz. He went 5 innings allowing a lone run on 2 hits, striking out 4 while walking none.