The split minor league seasons lead to quite interesting case studies. The Charlotte Stone Crabs had the best record in the Florida State League in the first half of the season, going 43-25 to win the Southern Division and clinch a playoff berth. They were going to be in the postseason no matter what, but it still was quite discouraging when they slipped from first place in the FSL South to last in the second half of the year, managing just a 24-41 record. Could a team that had played so poorly in the second half possibly win a postseason series? Apparently the answer is yes.
High-A Florida State League Postseason Game 2: Charlotte Stone Crabs 6, Palm Beach Cardinals 4 (Charlotte Wins Series 2-0)
We talked yesterday about how Casey Gillaspie seemed to come together in the first game of the playoffs, and it was a good thing that he actually did. Gillaspie went 2 for 4 with a solo homer in the fourth inning that gave Charlotte a 2-0 lead and a 2-run single in the sixth that put them back ahead by a 4-2 score. The homer was Gillaspie’s first since his High-A debut on June 28th, although it’s certainly worth noting that he was out the better part of two months due to injury.
Gillaspie is now 5 for 10 in the postseason after hitting just .146 in 45 regular-season plate appearances for the Stone Crabs. He is living up to his billing as a middle-of-the-order hitter and pushing any paranoia that people had out of their minds. People wondered why Gillaspie began the year at Bowling Green rather than Charlotte and why it took him until the end of June to finally be promoted. It was worth asking whether there was some serious flaw in his approach that made it necessary to hold him back. Luckily, Gillaspie is reminding us that there is no reason to panic.
More from Rays Colored Glasses
- Tampa Bay Rays give richest contract in franchise history to Wander Franco
- Remembering Julio Lugo’s time with the Tampa Bay Rays
- Are you the 2021 FanSided Sports Fan of the Year?
- Rays: Just how good was Randy Arozarena’s rookie season?
- Tampa Bay Rays catcher Mike Zunino stands out despite low batting average
Steven Souza Jr. made his second rehab appearance for the Stone Crabs in this game, going 1 for 3 with a run scored while playing right field. He could be back with the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday. It was Souza’s late-inning replacement, though, who delivered the two insurance runs that wound up being Charlotte’s winning margin. Granden Goetzman‘s lack of power this season was a huge concern for him, but he picked a great time to hit his fourth homer of the year, drilling a 2-run shot in the eighth inning to extend the Stone Crabs’ lead to 6-3. Braxton Lee also went 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored in the game while Mike Marjama had a 1-for-2 evening with a hit-by-pitch, an RBI, and a run scored.
On the mound, German Marquez gave the Stone Crabs a solid playoff start, going 6 innings allowing 2 runs on 8 hits. He struck out only 2 batters, but he walked none and forced an 11-3 groundout to flyout ratio. He didn’t have his best stuff, but this is the type of game that demonstrates the 20-year-old Marquez’s maturity beyond his years. However, three out of the four relievers behind Marquez were sketchy.
Jordan Harrison followed a gave up a run on 2 hits while recording just 1 out. He left a runner on base as Mike Franco entered the game, and luckily for the Stone Crabs, Franco delivered an extremely clutch performance. In 1.2 innings, he gave up only a walk but 2 errors were also made behind him. Even so, he struck out 3 on his way to keeping the Cardinals off the board and the Stone Crabs in front. Steve Ascher then allowed a run in the ninth before Hunter Wood recorded the final out. The relief work got sketchy, but luckily Franco was great and Goetzman provided the insurance runs.
Tonight, Chih-Wei Hu will get the ball for the Stone Crabs in Game 1 of the Florida State League Championship Series against the Reds-affiliated Daytona Tortugas, as reported by Josh Vitale. That series will be of the best-of-5 variety. In other Tampa Bay Rays system news, Jaime Schultz will start for the Montgomery Biscuits as they start their best-of-5 first round playoff series with the Twins-affiliated Chattanooga Lookouts.