Triple A Durham Bulls (11-15)
Norfolk 2, BULLS 0-Former Rays starter Rob Bell shut down the Durham offense over five innings of work for the host Norfolk Tides in his first start of the season, and he was matched nearly pound for pound in yet another good start from Jason Hammel, but the Bulls fell 2-0 on Tuesday night. Hammel struck out ten batters over six innings of work, allowing seven hits on the day. He ultimately took the loss in the effort, as the Durham offense could manage just four hits on the evening and failed to plate a run in his defense. Tim Corcoran and Tony Peguero pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth inning, respectively, to keep the Bulls in it until the very end. Three of the four Durham hits belonged to 1B Wes Bankston, who also stole a base in his best game of the season for the Bulls. C Shawn Riggans had the only other hit on the day for Durham, and its only extra base hit when he doubled off of Bell in the second, though he committed the game's lone error and also grounded into a double play. 2B Elliot Johnson and 3B Joel Guzman drew walks for the Bulls, and RF Justin Ruggiano was held hitless in the effort.
BULLS Up Next-at Norfolk, 7:15 ET (LH J.P. Howell)
Double A Montgomery Biscuits (12-13)
Jacksonville 8, BISCUITS 4-Jeremy Flanagan struggled early in a spot start for scheduled starter James Houser Jr., and the Biscuits offense was unable to rally late as the host Jacksonville Suns beat Montgomery 8-4 in their matinee contest on Tuesday afternoon. Houser, who was scheduled to make his first start back from the DL after having his wisdom teeth removed, was scratched for an unknown reason prior to the game, and Flanagan made the immediate spot start in his place. He ended up going just three plus innings of work, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks before being lifted in favor of Brett Wayne two batters into the fourth. Wayne proceeded to allow the remaining four runs in his 2.1 innings of work, putting Montgomery out of it in the middle innings. Nick DeBarr and Richard De Los Santos pitched a scoreless 2.2 innings to close out the ballgame for the Biscuits. Offensively, 3B Evan Longoria and SS Reid Brignac each had a hit for the Biscuits, while DH Gaby Martinez had two hits (including a double) and a walk in the effort. RF Shaun Cumberland also doubled and scored two of the four Biscuit runs on the day. 1B Chris Nowak and CF Jason Pridie each were held hitless for Montgomery, though Nowak did draw a walk. The loss put Montgomery below .500 for the first time this season, and the loss dropped them six games back of division-leading Mississippi, whom the Biscuits host for a five game series starting tonight.
News-According to the Montgomery Biscuits, the reason LH James Houser did not make his scheduled start yesterday was due to a a little twinge he felt when throwing a side session in between starts. As a result, the Rays have decided to keep Houser on the DL for precautionary reasons for a little longer.
BISCUITS Up Next-vs Mississippi, 8:05 ET (LH Chris Seddon)
High A Vero Beach Devil Rays (10-14)
V-RAYS 6, Brevard County 5-Brevard County scored three runs to nearly tie the ballgame late, but the V-Rays were able to hold the Manatees at bay the day after blowing a lead and allowing seven runs in the ninth. The 6-5 final was the only win that any team in the Devil Rays organization put up on Tuesday. Matt Walker got the start and had a strong outing, surrendering just two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks in six innings, while striking out seven. The Vero Beach bullpen relieved him and nearly blew the lead by giving up three runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but Eddie De La Cruz was able to pitch the final 1.1 innings and hold together a fledgling 6-5 lead. DH Sergio Pedroza doubled and walked for the V-Rays on offense, while C Christian Lopez also doubled among his two hits. 1B Rhyne Hughes had the big bomb in the game, a three run homer in the fourth that gave Vero Beach a 5-1 lead. 3B Patrick Cottrell also hit a solo home run for the Rays, who pounded out nine hits in the winning effort.
Of Note-For those of you who have not seen it, check out Ed Encina's article in the St. Petersburg Times yesterday that chronicled the Vero Beach ace duo of Wade Davis and Jake McGee. The article is part of improved minor league coverage by the Times of the ballclub; Tuesday's editions even included sidebar capsules on key players with each minor league teams. Alas, it appears to be a print-only story.
V-RAYS Up Next-at Jupiter, 7:00 ET (RH Paul Moviel)
Low A Columbus Catfish (15-11)
Rome 2, CATFISH 0 (13 innings)-Heath Rollins and Ryan Reid combined to shut out the visiting Rome Braves on Tuesday evening through the regular nine innings, but the Columbus offense managed just four hits total in 13 innings of play, and the R-Braves scored two in the top of the 13th off of Ryan Reid to best the Catfish, 2-0. Rollins lowered his ERA under 2.00 in his fifth start of the season, striking out four batters and walking just one in six innings of work. He gave up seven hits on the day. Relieved by Ryan Reid for the next three innings, Reid struck out five and gave up just one hit in continuing the shut out, but he also hit three batters. Ryan Owen pitched the final four innings of the ballgame, running into trouble in the top of the 13th when he gave up the only two runs of the ballgame. He surrendered four hits in his day of work, while striking out two, yet took the loss. The Columbus offense meanwhile struggled to get anything going against Rome pitching, drawing five walks over the 13 innings for a total of nine baserunners on the day. DH Desmond Jennings and C Nevin Ashley were both hitless, but drew two walks each. The hitless day ended Jennings' league-high 15 game hitting streak. CF John Matulia had the Catfish's only extra base hit of the day, a triple, while LF Ryan Royster picked up two singles in the losing effort.
CATFISH Up Next-vs Rome, 7:00 ET (RH Wade Townsend)
Extended Spring Training
On a personal note, I will be attending this afternoon's Extended Spring Training game involving the Rays and Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon in Clearwater. My relatively close proximity to Carpenter Field allows for such an easy trip over, though because my school does not get out until half an hour after the game starts, I will not be able to witness the whole game. Look for some notes later this afternoon.