The Undercards: Alex Colome, Mikie Mahtook Lead Durham To Win
By Robbie Knopf
As usual, a great day for the Tampa Bay Rays in the major leagues means nothing for the minors, where their affiliates went 3-3. Especially lacking were the Drew Smyly-esque dominant starts, but Alex Colome was able to deliver one for the Durham Bulls.
Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Gwinnett Braves 2
Alex Colome’s outing came apart a little bit at the end, but not before he had given the Bulls an excellent chance of coming away with a win. He went 7 innings allowing 2 runs, 1 earned, on 6 hits, striking out 7 while walking 2. He also forced a 9-4 groundout to flyout ratio. Colome returned from his suspension scorching hot before cooling off, but he may be hitting his stride against as he has a 1.83 ERA and an 18-6 strikeout to walk ratio in 19.2 innings pitched in his last three starts. Behind him, Steve Geltz allowed a hit, but struck out a pair of batters in his 0.2 innings of work before Adam Liberatore struck out 2 more in 1.1 perfect innings to end the game. Liberatore has a 1.62 ERA and an 82-15 strikeout to walk ratio in 61 innings pitched this season.
Mikie Mahtook drilled a two-run homer in the fifth inning to give Colome a 3-0 lead at the time, and he also stole his 18th base (in 21 attempts) before the game was through. Aside from him, it was a trio of infielders delivering multi-hit games, with Vince Belnome and Ray Olmedo going 2 for 3 with a double and an RBI, with Belnome also walking and scoring a run, and Cole Figueroa going 2 for 3 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored. Nice to see Figueroa continuing to play well despite being sent back down to the Bulls.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 5, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (CIN) 3
Mike Colla entered this game having allowed just 2.2 walks per 9 innings, and proceeded to walk 6 amid 4 rough innings, allowing 3 runs in the process. Luckily for their Biscuits, their offense and bullpen ensured that they would win this game nonetheless. Richie Shaffer led the way, drilling his second homer in as many games in a 2-for-4 performance. Ryan Brett, meanwhile, went 3 for 4, while Cameron Seitzer and Taylor Motter both went 2 for 4 with an extra-base hit, an RBI, and a run scored. Seitzer laced a double while Motter came away with a triple. Brett has delivered a strong season, hitting .305, and he has been especially good in his last 113 plate appearances, hitting to a .368/.402/.519 line. Shaffer is playing very well in a smaller sample, hitting to a .367/.424/.767 line with 3 homers and 8 RBI in his last 8 games and 33 plate appearances.
Back to the pitching side, Matt Lollis delivered his best outing in an up-and-down 2o14, going 3 innings allowing just a hit and a walk while striking out 5. Andrew Bellatti then struck out the side in the 8th before Bryce Stowell struck out 2 more in a perfect 9th. The Rays would love to see a few more outings like that from Lollis, a 6’9″ right-hander who they received in the Alex Torres trade. Stowell, meanwhile, has done nothing but impress since coming along as a minor league signing, pitching to a 2.12 ERA and a 52-18 strikeout to walk ratio in 46.2 innings pitched.
High-A Florida State League: Fort Myers Miracle (MIN) 5, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2
The Stone Crabs did lose this game, but what a top of the order they had. David DeJesus led off and went 1 for 2 with a run scored while Ryan Hanigan batted second and went 2 for 3. It’s nice to see both players progressing towards returning. Patrick Leonard also went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI out of the cleanup spot. With Maxx Tissenbaum batting third in this game, the Stone Crabs actually had a top 4 in this lineup that were all acquired in trades, a relatively rare occurrence at High-A.
Blake Snell had a decent start for Charlotte, going 5 innings allowing 3 runs on 7 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. At the very least, the strikeout to walk ratio was encouraging after he had walked at least 4 in three of his last four starts. Kevin Brandt followed with a perfect relief inning, but single runs allowed by Jose Alberto Molina and Colton Reavis only made it more difficult for the Stone Crabs to come back.