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Rays down on the farm July 31: Kirsch solid in Bowling Green win

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Chris Kirsch went to Lackawanna College along with former Dunder Mifflin executive Ryan Howard

There's more upside in Bowling Green's rotation, but Chris Kirsch has been reliable
There's more upside in Bowling Green's rotation, but Chris Kirsch has been reliable
Jim Donten

Chris Kirsch was drafted by the Rays in the 14th round in 2012.  At the time, Baseball America noted he had potential for three average pitches, and his pedestrian 13.8% strikeout rate seems to back that up.  Over 50% of the balls in play against him are on the ground though.  He turns 23 over the off-season, so it would be nice to see him at a higher level soon.

While Kirsch was good, it's important to check out what the big hit in Bowling Green's win was.

Triple-A Durham Bulls (59-51)

Alex Colome had absolutely no control, but Charlotte couldn't take advantage in Durham's 4-1 win over the Knights.  Over the course of seven innings, he walked five batters, hit another and threw a wild pitch that eventually led to their only run.  Fortunately, he only gave up two hits, both singles.  He struck out five in seven innings, and 59 of his 102 pitches were strikes.  Josh Lueke was credited with a save after striking out the side in the ninth.

The Bulls scored their four runs with back to back two run innings early in the game.  Hak-Ju Lee's RBI single in the second started the scoring, and he scored the second run on Justin Christian's double.  Vince Belnome doubled to lead off the third, and he scored on a Wilson Betemit sac fly.  Later in the inning, Lee delivered again with another RBI single.  Lee, Belnome, Mikie Mahtook and Jayson Nix had two hits each.

Double-A Montgomery Biscuits (20-20)

Montgomery couldn't match Jacksonville's offense in their 5-3 loss to the Suns.  The Biscuits only had four hits, and they had to rely on Jacksonville mistakes for their first two runs.  They scored first in the third inning when an error moved Alejandro Segovia to third, and Jacksonville conceded the run on a groundout.  In the seventh, Luke Maile doubled, moved to third on an error and scored on Segovia's sac fly.  Jeff Malm's solo home run in the ninth brought them within two.

Victor Mateo pitched seven innings, but he generally stumbled through them.  The biggest blow of the game came in the fourth inning when he allowed a two run home run that broke a 1-1 tie.  Mateo would allow four runs on eight hits and two walks in seven innings with three strikeouts.  Matt Lollis was charged with the fifth run, but it was unearned.

Class-A Advanced Charlotte Stone Crabs (18-21)

A seven run inning sprung Charlotte to a 9-4 win over Tampa.  Down 2-1 in the fourth, the first eight Stone Crabs of the inning reached base on their way to scoring seven runs, giving them an 8-2 lead.  Tampa committed five errors, but only one was in that inning.  The two big hits of the inning were a bases clearing double by Johnny Field and a two run double by Tyler Goeddel.  Four Stone Crabs had two hit games, but Justin O'Conner led the way with three hits plus a walk.

He only lasted four innings, but Jared Mortensen was solid in his second appearance of the season for Charlotte.  He allowed two Yankee runs in the third inning on three hits, but otherwise, Tampa couldn't get anything going.  He finished with those two runs allowed on five hits in four innings with nine strikeouts and no walks.  Ryan Garton was credited with the win despite allowing two runs in three innings.

Class A Bowling Green Hot Rods (16-22)

A six run first inning jump started Bowling Green in their 10-1 win over South Bend.  After Alexander Simon singled home the first run of the game and Julian Ridings' walk scored the second, James Harris hit an inside the park grand slam to make it a 6-0 game.  The Hot Rods would tack on four runs later in the game to add to the rout.  Harris had two hits, and Darryl George reached base three times.  Kean Wong also had two hits.

With six runs on the board before he even took the field, Chris Kirsch had a very good start.  The only run he allowed came in the second inning when he hit the leadoff batter and later allowed a leadoff double.  He would end up pitching a career high eight innings, only allowing that run on four hits with four strikeouts and no walks.  He has eight consecutive starts allowing one or fewer earned runs.

Short-Season Hudson Valley Renegades (31-14)

Hudson Valley was postponed.

Rookie Princeton Rays (21-18)

Mario Fernandez's very good relief outing was key in Princeton's 4-2 win over Bristol.  After the Rays took a 3-2 lead in the sixth, Fernandez replaced starter Trevor Lubking, the Pirates had no chance to make a comeback.  Over three scoreless innings, he struck out six batters and only allowed two singles with no walks.  Lubking allowed the two Bristol runs on five hits and a walk in five innings with two strikeouts.

Cristian Toribio drove in the first run in the second, scored the second run later in the inning, and his bases loaded walk in the sixth scored what proved to be the winning run.  Toribio and Carter Burgess both reached base three times and stole a base, and Thomas Milone had two hits along with three strikeouts.

Rookie Gulf Coast League Rays (22-13)

They went 12 innings today without scoring, but the GCL Rays still managed to top the GCL Twins 4-2 in 14 innings.  Chris Knott and Chris DeMorais singled home runs in the first inning, but it took until the 14th to get on the board again.  In fact, they only had two batters reach base until the 12th inning.  In the 14th, DeMorais and Jose Rojas each drew bases loaded walks to put the Rays up 4-2.  Cade Gotta and DeMorais both reached base three times.

Four Rays combined to pitch a good game and limit the Twins.  Junior Feliz started and allowed the first run on three hits and three walks in five innings with three strikeouts, and Albert Casanas was very good in relief dispute getting tagged with a blown save.  He allowed the second run on just two hits in five innings with four strikeouts and no walks.  Cristopher Crisostomo and Luis Nunez pitched the final three innings.

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Star of the day- Kirsch has mostly been good all season long.

Goat of the day- Mateo's start wasn't great in a day on the farm that was pretty good.

Today's games (probables courtesy of milb.com)

Durham @ Charlotte 7:05 PM (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Mike Montgomery (9-3, 3.77) v. Bobby Doran (2-1, 8.36)

Montgomery @ Jackson 8:05 PM (MiLB.TV, radio stream)
Mike Colla (6-10, 4.54) v. Matt Anderson (3-5, 5.16)

Charlotte v. Tampa 6:30 PM (Radio stream)
Jordan Harrison (1-2, 4.03) v. Miguel Sulbaran (2-1, 2.76)

Bowling Green @ South Bend 7:05 PM (Radio stream)
Jaime Schultz (2-1, 1.87) v. Markus Solbach (2-1, 2.79)

Hudson Valley @ Jamestown 5:05 PM DOUBLEHEADER
TBA v. Austin Coley (0-1, 13.50)
Hunter Wood (1-2, 2.66) v. Frank Duncan (1-2, 4.04)

Both games will be seven innings

Princeton v. Burlington 7:05 PM
Cameron Varga* (0-0, 19.29) v. Scott Blewett* (0-1, 2.70)

GCL Rays v. GCL Twins 12 PM
TBA v. TBA

*Listed as TBA on milb.com

Scouting the opposition

Charlotte Knights (White Sox)
50-63 (4th in IL South)
Offense: 539 R (1st) .765 OPS (1st)
Pitching: 4.97 ERA (14th) 1.53 WHIP (13th)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Erik Johnson (2), 3B Matt Davidson (4), 2B Marcus Semien (5), 2B Micah Johnson (6), 2B Carlos Sanchez (12), OF Michael Taylor (27)

Jackson Generals (Seattle)
17-22 (4th in SL North)
Offense: 466 R (6th) .718 OPS (4th)
Pitching: 4.10 ERA (8th) 1.35 WHIP (6th)
Top 30 Prospects: 3B D.J. Peterson (2), RHP Victor Sanchez (7), 3B Patrick Kivlehan (12), LHP Tyler Pike (16), SS Ketel Marte (20)

Tampa Yankees
20-19 (3rd in FSL North)
Offense: 432 R (7th) .688 OPS (8th)
Pitching: 3.43 ERA (7th) 1.26 WHIP (4th)
Top 30 Prospects: 3B Eric Jagielo (5), OF Aaron Judge (6), 1B Greg Bird (8), 2B Angelo Gumbs (25)

South Bend Silver Hawks (Arizona)
22-16 (2nd in MWL East)
Offense: 540 R (1st) .720 OPS (2nd)
Pitching: 3.63 ERA (6th) 1.29 WHIP (6th)
Top 30 Prospects: RHP Jose Martinez (6), OF Stryker Trahan (8), 1B Daniel Palka (17), C Michael Perez (20), RHP Geordy Parra (22), SS Joe Munoz (26), 2B Jamie Westbrook (27), 2B Andrew Velasquez (28)

Jamestown Jammers (Pittsburgh)
19-26 (T-5th in Pinckney)
Offense: 197 R (7th) .691 OPS (5th)
Pitching: 4.28 ERA (12th) 1.30 WHIP (8th)
Top 30 Prospects: OF Elvis Escobar (25), 1B Matt Andriese, C Taylor Gushue

Burlington Royals
18-21 (5th in APP East)
Offense: 153 R (9th) .641 OPS (9th)
Pitching: 3.62 ERA (5th) 1.36 WHIP (6th)
Top 30 Prospects: SS Marten Gasparini (20), LHP Foster Griffin, C Chase Vallot, RHP Scott Blewett

GCL Twins
13-22 (4th in GCL South)
Offense: 117 R (14th) .582 OPS (15th)
Pitching: 3.83 ERA (8th) 1.34 WHIP (7th)
Top 30 Prospects: 3B Amaurys Minier (24)