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Tampa Bay Rays Game 45: Erasmo Ramirez Struggles (And MiLB Recap)

By Robbie Knopf
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We have a lot of Tampa Bay Rays baseball to catch up on from yesterday before we actually get back to a regular article schedule for today. Let’s get right into it.

Oakland Athletics 7, Tampa Bay Rays 2

The fact that the Rays had to settle for a split with the A’s after winning the first two games of the four-game set between the two teams is extremely annoying. Even worse, the Rays lost more than a game as Steven Souza Jr., James Loney, and Asdrubal Cabrera all left the game with injuries. As Marc Topkin reported, Souza sprained his wrist, Loney sprained his left middle finger, and Cabrera suffered a mild groin strain. None of the injuries are expected to be serious, but we have to expect at least one DL stint given the Rays’ luck, right?

In terms of the rest of the game, Erasmo Ramirez got his pitch count up to a season-high 95 pitches, but that was only a small consolation prize. Otherwise, he went 6 innings allowing 5 runs on 5 hits, striking out 4 while walking 5. He allowed a solo homer to Billy Burns to start the game before a Mark Canha 3-run shot marred his outing in the sixth. It is not as though one bad game wipes away with his 2.25 ERA from his previous 24 innings and the pitch count is a good thing, but Ramirez has now been iffy in his last two starts and needs to show that he deserves this rotation spot.

Ernesto Frieri allowed yet another home run in relief behind as his HR/9 has reached scary proportions at 2.7. Only two other relievers with at least 15 innings pitched are worse. We have to continue to wonder how long Frieri’s leash is and we can’t imagine that it is much longer than this. Preston Guilmet was then mediocre in his Rays debut, allowing 1 run on 2 hits in 2 innings, striking out 2 while walking 1. He was optioned back to Durham after the game. Given the Rays’ injuries, Jake Elmore looks like the best bet to replace him if no one goes on the DL.

On the offensive side, meanwhile, Logan Forsythe had a great game, going 2 for 4 with 2 stolen bases and both Rays RBIs. He has seemingly been the one constant for the Rays all season. Joey Butler had a nice game after entering to replace Souza, going 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored, while Evan Longoria went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. A fun fact is that Forsythe no longer leads the Rays in OPS+ as David DeJesus has taken the lead for the second straight season. Forsythe is second followed by Longoria, Brandon Guyer, and Souza.

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Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 14, Scranton Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (NYY) 10

This game was absolutely nuts, and the biggest takeaway was unsurprisingly an offensive performance. Richie Shaffer made his Triple-A and had a ridiculous game, going 4 for 5 with 2 homers, a double, 3 RBI, and 4 runs scored. It was the first multi-homer game of his career and we have to think that finally making it to Durham exhilarated him. Of course, skill matters a lot more than excitement in baseball, and there is no guarantee that he can handle the level. Shaffer had a relatively strong .262/.362/.470 line in his repeat of Double-A, but he was still striking out in 28% of his plate appearances, although he was drawing his walks. He needs to prove that strikeouts won’t overshadow his bat speed and power at baseball’s highest levels.

Also homering were J.P. Arencibia and Allan Dykstra plus Taylor Motter, Eugenio Velez, and Leonardo Reginatto all had multi-hit games. The Rays tried Motter out at shortstop, but the initial returns weren’t so great as he made 2 errors. Jake Elmore was conspicuously absent, making his call-up even more likely.

Scott Diamond was bad but not atrocious in his start for the Bulls, allowing 5 runs, 3 earned, in 5 innings pitched. However, after Jose Dominguez worked around a walk and a hit to toss a scoreless inning, Grant Balfour allowed a run in 1.2 innings before Andy Oliver allowed 4 more in just an inning of work. Jhan Marinez finished things with a 6-pitch save.

Double-A Southern League: Montgomery Biscuits 4, Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 0

Jared Mortensen gave the Biscuits a huge start, going 7 innings allowing no runs on 5 hits, striking out 9 while walking 1. He also posted a 6-0 groundout to flyout ratio. Mortensen has put together nice numbers in his second go-around in Montgomery, going 3-3 with a 3.27 ERA, a 7.2 K/9, a 2.3 BB/9, and a 0.5 HR/9 in 55 innings pitched. Mortensen is already 27 years old, but let’s not discount him entirely given that he didn’t join affiliated baseball until age 25 after a stint in independent ball.

Ryan Garton followed with a perfect inning, striking out 1 and forcing 2 groundouts, while Colton Reavis somehow allowed 3 hits but no runs in his inning, striking out 2. Garton has reeled off 4 straight excellent appearances after a rough start while Reavis has excellent peripherals but keeps getting done in by the occasional disaster outing.

On the offensive side, Johnny Field drilled a 2-run triple, Tyler Goeddel went 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI, and Cameron Seitzer had a 1-for-3 day with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored. Seitzer played first base while Patrick Leonard manned third base for the 8th time this season and went 1 for 3. Leonard played third just 6 times in 2014, and it is nice to see him continuing to work on his versatility.

High-A Florida State League: Charlotte Stone Crabs 9, Tampa Yankees 2

An excellent Ryne Stanek and a pair of rehab games made this one quite fun. Stanek went 7 innings allowing 1 run on 3 hits, striking out 7 while walking 1. He continues to force more groundballs than he did previously, and now he has gotten the strikeouts up twice in his last three starts. Overall, he is 4-2 with a 1.78 ERA, a 6.8 K/9, a 2.7 BB/9, a 0.4 HR/9, and a 52.2% groundball rate in 50.2 innings pitched. The K’s were the one thing he was missing, but he has appeared to find them.

C.J. Riefenhauser followed Stanek with a questionable rehab outing, walking 2 while striking out 1 in a scoreless inning. Ryan Brett‘s rehab game went much better as he went 2 for 3 with a double and 2 runs scored. Brett can’t play shortstop, so he appears set to head back to Triple-A Durham for the foreseeable future. Marty Gantt matched Brett’s line and added 2 RBI while Pat Blair went 2 for 3 with a double, a walk, a stolen base, 2 RBI, and a run scored. Willy Adames and Juniel Querecuto also delivered multi-hit performances.

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Low-A Midwest League: South Bend Cubs 6, Bowling Green Hot Rods 2

It took way too long, but Casey Gillaspie has finally caught fire. He has now delivered 3 straight 3-hit games, and he capped this one with a solo home run. His line on the season is suddenly quite respectable at .271/.329/.479. He hasn’t walked a ton (8.1% of his plate appearances), but he has certainly drawn enough walks given that he is striking out just 16.8% of the time. The lack of strikeouts have been a constant for Gillaspie, and it is nice to see him finally turning “making contact” into “hitting the ball with authority.”

Aside from Gillaspie, no one had a notable game at the plate–although Justin Williams and Thomas Milone had an outfield assist each–and the pitching was pretty bad. Greg Harris allowed 6 runs, albeit just 2 earned, in 4.2 innings, allowing 8 hits and 3 walks while striking out 3. His defense certainly hurt him, but he didn’t look good anyway. Damion Carroll then tossed 2.1 shutout innings, but only with 2 walks and a hit allowed against 1 strikeout. He has struck out more batters than he has walked just twice all season. Brian Miller did finish the game with a 1-2-3 frame.

Next: Has Jamaal Charles Lost a Step?

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