That's right. For the first time since Game 5 of the World Series, playoff fever has grabbed a hold of the Rays organization. The A+ Charlotte Stone Crabs of the Florida State League are matched up against the Fort Myers Miracle in a best of 3 series. The Crabs made the playoffs by finishing 2ns in the FSL South to the Miracle despite a dreadful team slash line of .242/.315/.339. Their season was buttressed by the strong pitching of Alex Cobb, Darin Downs, David Newmann, and Jeremy Hall.
In the first game of the series, Charlotte fell 8-7 as Jeremy Hall took the loss giving up 2 HR, walking 3 and striking out just 1 in 4.1 IP. Hall, who had an impressive season with 14 wins, was not on his game. The 25-year-old right hander had posted a 2009 FIP of 3.27 with a 3.29 K/BB ratio.
Last night, the Crabs battled back to win 7-4, leveling the series behind 5 innings of 1 run ball from 21-year-old Alex Cobb. The right-handed Cobb posted a 2009 FIP of 3.07 with a 3.45 K/BB ratio. Recently promoted reliever 22-year-old Marquis Fleming struck out six in 2.2 IP.
The rubber match is tonight as southpaw David Newmann takes the hill for Charlotte. Newmann finished 2009 with a FIP of 3.05 while striking out 8.79/9 innings. For the season, Newmann has induced 56.8% ground balls. He has been red hot the past two months posting FIPS of 2.42 and 2.22 striking out 45 and walking 9 in 44.2 IP. The winner will travel to Tampa to take on the Yankees beginning Friday night.
Tonight also marks game 2 for the AAA Durham Bulls in their playoff series. Mitch Talbot will make his AAA return. Full update on this series tomorrow!