The Tampa Bay Rays walked off to complete their series victory against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night, and they were not alone among last-second victories in the system. The Montgomery Biscuits pulled off a walk-off of their own in the 12th inning of the game, and let’s just say for now that the conclusion was a little more bizarre.
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Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Charlotte Knights (CHW) 2
With Drew Smyly and James Loney returning tonight for the Rays, the hope is that the shuffle of players to the major leagues is slowing down. However, that didn’t stop several call-up candidates to make their cases for the team. Scott Diamond started for the Bulls and went 5 innings allowing no runs on 5 hits, striking out 2 while walking none. His groundout to flyout ratio is 8-2. Diamond is a lefty, which would make him an option for the southpaw role in the Tampa Bay Rays’ bulpen aside from the fact that he has a reverse split.
Usual starter (well, starter this year but reliever before that) Andrew Bellatti followed with a strong outing of the bullpen, going 3 scoreless innings allowing only a hit while striking out 5. Bellatti pitched well this spring and has been a pleasant surprise for Durham thus far, pitching to a 2.38 ERA and an 11-2 strikeout to walk ratio in 11.2 innings pitched. Andy Oliver did have a rough ninth behind him–he isn’t quite fixed yet.
I’ve said this a few times already, but what is it about Leonardo Reginatto? He’s never been a prospect but has this immaculate ability to produce in big games. This was his Triple-A debut after mediocre results at Double-A, yet he went 2 for 3 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. How does he keep doing this? Reginatto has a chance to stick around with the Bulls as long as Jake Elmore is in the major leagues.
In other hitting news, Curt Casali went 3 for 4 with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored, Hak-Ju Lee went 2 for 4 with an RBI, Alexi Casilla drilled a solo homer, and Eugenio Velez went 2 for 5 with a double and an RBI. Lee is now 10 for his last 25 (.400) and the Tampa Bay Rays can dream that he’s finding himself. Casali, meanwhile, is still at just .176/.317/.176 to begin the year, although his 7-7 strikeout to walk ratio is a good sign.
Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 2, Mobile BayBears (ARI) 1 (12 innings)
After the Biscuits had worked out of a runner-on-third, one-out situation in the ninth inning, they had a chance to win it themselves in the bottom of the 12th. Richie Shaffer led off the inning with a double before moving up to third on Patrick Leonard‘s single. Then, after Leonard advanced to second base on Justin O’Conner‘s strikeout, Mobile elected to intentionally walk Montgomery’s hero from earlier in the game, Tyler Goeddel, to load the bases for Johnny Field. Then craziness ensued.
Field hit a line drive to centerfield that wound up turning into an 8-2 force play at home. The only explanation I can think of is that Shaffer at third thought for sure that the ball would be caught, but after it dropped in shallow center, Mitch Haniger delivered a throw right on the money to ex-Rays minor league catcher Mark Thomas to record the out. The BayBears had gotten a miracle of a play to stay alive. But just three pitches later, it all proved meaningless as Leonard trotted home on a wild pitch.
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Earlier in the game, Reinaldo Lopez delivered a nice outing opposing a more highly-regarded Lopez, the Diamondbacks’ Yoan Lopez. Yoan was dominant, tossing 7 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 8 while walking none, but Reinaldo was solid in his own right, giving up 1 run on 4 hits in his 6 innings, striking out 4 while walking 3. Jordan Harrison looked decent him in 2.1 shutout innings with the help of Parker Markel, who escaped that ninth inning jam on his way to 1.2 perfect innings with 2 strikeouts. His other two outs came on the ground and the Rays wish that he could look like that more often. Mark Sappington got the win with 2 more shutout frames.
I already alluded to Goeddel, who went 3 for 4 with a walk, a stolen base, and a run scored in the game. He has his average up to .413 on the young season. Goeddel created the first Biscuits run in the fifth inning when he singled and stole second before scoring on a hit from another unlikely hero, Hector Guevara in his first game of the year. Patrick Leonard also went 2 for 5 with the winning run while Boog Powell delivered a pair of outfield assists.
High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 1, Palm Beach Cardinals 0
James Loney was a good luck charm as Charlotte was able to edge Palm Beach. Loney went 1 for 4 with a double in his first, last, and only rehab game, and that double scored Kean Wong for the game’s only run with the help of an error. It seemed like Loney would need more than one rehab appearance, but evidently he showed enough in this contest.
Jake Bauers, a first base prospect who draws Loney comparisons, had a nice day himself as he went 1 for 2 with a walk, and Marty Gantt went 2 for 3. Gantt is off to an excellent start, hitting to a .333/.467/.417 line with 6 walks against 3 strikeouts, and the Rays may have to find him a spot in Double-A. Gantt looked fine with the Stone Crabs last year and this year has only started off better than that. Most of this game was about the pitching, though, and the Stone Crabs were excellent in that regard.
Jacob Faria went 6 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. He’s allowing a lot of contact in the air, but we can’t complain too much about his 1.06 ERA and 16-5 strikeout to walk ratio in 17 innings pitched. Steve Ascher and Brad Schreiber then finished the game, but not without making it overly exciting. Ascher worked out of another runner-on-third, one-out situation in the eighth before Schreiber got past second and third with one out in the ninth.
Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 3, Dayton Dragons (CIN) 1
The middle two games got a little sketchy, but this game and the Durham game were both relatively smooth wins. In this contest, Hyrum Formo started and went 5 innings allowing 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking none. Then the relief corps were dominant as Edgar Gomez allowed just a hit in 2 innings, striking out 2, before Kyle Bird did the same thing only he struck out 3.
Bird now has 6 shutout innings allowing just 2 hits and no walks while striking out 6. Gomez has been similarly dominant since a rough first appearance, allowing just a hit while striking out 5 and walking none in 5 frames. There was no messing around in this game as Formo and the Bowling Green offense gave the pair of Gomez the lead and they never put it in danger of being lost.
Nick Ciuffo and Thomas Milone both had a nice games for the Hot Rods, with Ciuffo going 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI while Milone went 1 for 2 with 2 walks and a run scored. Ciuffo is still trying to find himself at the plate as a pro while Milone has been excellent the entire season thus far. He now has a .313/.411/.458 line with a 7-6 strikeout to walk ratio and 3 stolen bases in 3 attempts.