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Tampa Bay Rays MiLB Recap: Return to Normalcy for Andriese

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It is impressive that Matt Andriese was able to give the Tampa Bay Rays some good outings despite a bizarre schedule. Andriese twice needed to start for the Rays after barely pitching for the previous week-and-a-half, and he was never able to get his pitch count past 72 because he could never get into a routine. Given how he performed despite such adversity, there will be reason for optimism regarding Andriese once he finally settles down. That is beginning to happen at Triple-A Durham, and he would be served well to stay there for a while.

Triple-A International League: Durham Bulls 5, Rochester Red Wings (MIN) 4

Matt Andriese started for Durham and finally threw his first 5-inning outing of the year. He went exactly 5 frames allowing 2 runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 1. His groundout to flyout ratio was 6-3. Andriese matched his season-high with 72 pitches, and the Rays may have had him removed after that to ensure that he left the game feeling good. He could use at least three or four more starts with the Bulls to get his pitch count back to 100 or more so that he will be completely ready when the Rays need him again.

You wouldn’t know it from this season, but Andriese is a durable starting pitcher. He tossed 162.1 innings for Durham last year, more than Nate Karns‘ career-high and a total that Alex Colome has surpassed only with Winter Ball. Andriese lacks the upside both of them possess, but he has the ability to be a number three or four starter than can approach 200 innings, and that is especially valuable given the Rays’ injuries this season.

Jim Miller earned the win behind Andriese by working around a hit with a strikeout in 2 scoreless innings before Jordan Norberto and Ronald Belisario allowed a run each to make this game too close for comfort. On the offensive side, Taylor Motter and Curt Casali delivered a 2-run hit each, Richie Shaffer hit a sac fly, and Luke Maile went 2 for 3 with a run scored. Juniel Querecuto, who was called up to Durham from High-A, also somehow managed a 1-for-3 day with a double and a run scored.

The Bulls are extremely shorthanded on the infield with Hak-Ju Lee hurt and both Tim Beckham and Jake Elmore in the major leagues. That necessitated the call-ups of Shaffer (who probably deserved it), Leonardo Reginatto, and Querecuto. Querecuto was the only true shortstop who was a candidate to fill in–the Rays certainly weren’t going to call up Daniel Robertson before he was ready (plus he’s currently mired in a slump). It would be no surprise to see the Rays sign or make a minor trade for a shortstop in the coming days.

Double-A Southern League: Tennessee Smokies (CHC) 8, Montgomery Biscuits 4 (8 innings–rain)

Daniel Robertson is now 0 for his last 19 after being on fire for an extended period. In his worst slump of the season, he has still struck out just 4 times, a touch over 20% of his plate appearances. Needless to say, he will be fine, and it would be no surprise to see him get on a roll again very soon.

Austin Pruitt had a rough start in this game, allowing 6 runs on 8 hits in 5 innings. Mark Sappington and the newly acquired Kyle Winkler were able to give their offense a chance to make this one interesting with strong relief work. Sappington got past a walk in 2 hitless innings, forcing 4 groundouts, while Winkler struck out 2 and got his other out in the ground as he worked around a hit in his scoreless frame. We will talk about Winkler in more depth later today.

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In terms of the offense, Cameron Seitzer went 3 for 4 with a homer, a double, and 2 runs scored, Johnny Field went 2 for 4 with a homer, a double, and 2 RBI, and Patrick Leonard settled for a 1-for-3 day with a lone solo home run. Field already has 7 homers this season after managing 12 in the entire 2014 regular season, although he needs to improve upon his 45-11 strikeout to walk ratio. Leonard, meanwhile, has recaptured his 2014 form of late, hitting to a .353/.425/.735 line with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 6 RBI, and an 8-4 strikeout to walk ratio in 40 plate appearances.

Also having solid days were Boog Powell, who went 2 for 4, and Justin O’Conner, who went 1 for 3 with a double. Powell had cooled off along with his partner in crime, Robertson, going 2 for his previous 22. Hopefully this game means that he has turned a corner.

Low-A Midwest League: Bowling Green Hot Rods 12, South Bend Cubs 8

This game can be described accurately an on-off switch for the Hot Rods. They scored the first 2 runs of the game (on), allowed the next 4 (off), scored the next 10, and allowed the final 4. That directly corresponds to their pitchers as well. Starter Hyrum Formo allowed 4 runs in just 2 innings, but Edgar Gomez was incredible behind him, going 4 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits, striking out 3 while walking none. Ryan Pennell then allowed 4 runs in his inning before Mike Franco finished the game with 2 innings of 1-hit ball, striking out 3 while walking none.

Coty Blanchard led the way for the Hot Rods’ bats, going 3 for 5 with a homer, 3 RBI, and 3 runs scored. Blanchard is now hitting .320 on the season, but the homer was actually his first of the year. Riley Unroe, meanwhile, continued his torrid stretch by going 3 for 4 with a walk, an RBI, and 3 run scored. He is now 14 for his last 35 (.400) with 2 doubles, a triple, 6 RBI, and a 6-6 strikeout to walk ratio. We are still waiting for his power, but everything else has come together as the year has gone on.

Also delivering multi-hit games were Thomas Milone, Bralin Jackson, and Mac James. Milone currently has the exact same .726 OPS that he managed last season while Jackson is hitting .278 after hitting .279 in 2014. He is still trying to get his on-base and slugging percentages up to where they had been. Finally, Mac James has been the best hitting full-time catcher in the system to begin the season, hitting to a .313/.349/.400 line.

Next: Tampa Bay Rays Game 46: Bad Luck for Jake Odorizzi, Bats

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