Right-hander Wade Davis gave up 8 runs (5 earned) in only 2 innings as the Durham Bulls bowed out of the International League playoffs Friday night, falling three games to one to the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre team.
While the previous three games were all decided in the final at-bat, the Bulls were beat handily on Friday. Following the game, right-handed pitchers Jeff Niemann and Mitch Talbot were called up to the Rays, along with outfielder Jonny Gomes and lefty phenom David Price.
The top overall pick in last year’s draft, Price compiled a 13-1 record and a 2.39 ERA in 21 starts for Vero, Montgomery and Durham, including two playoff outings with the Bulls. He last pitched Tuesday in Scranton, allowing four runs in six innings in the opener of the Governors’ Cup finals.
The initial plan is for the Rays to use all three pitchers–starters the entire season–out of the bullpen. But there is at least one spot start available, in the second game of the Sept. 23 doubleheader at Baltimore. Although Price would be an enticing choice as a spot starter, the club will remain cautious in putting too much pressure on the 22-year-old pitcher.
Gomes and Price joined the Rays in New York on Saturday (although Price was not used in the Rays doubleheader) and Talbot and Niemann are expected to join the team on Monday back in St. Petersburg.
Talbot and Niemann will each begin their second stint in the Major Leagues this season. Niemann posted a 1-1 record with a 5.79 ERA in two starts for the Rays and went 9-5 with a 3.59 ERA for Durham. Talbot did not get to pitch during an abbreviated one-day stint with the Rays and went 13-9 with a 3.86 ERA at Durham.
The quartet joins former Bulls teammates outfielder Fernando Perez, first baseman Dan Johnson and catchers John Jaso and Michael Hernandez as a length list of September call ups.
— Brittany Ghiroli
Strong starting pitching and timely hitting? Sound familiar?
The Rays’ Triple-A Affilliate, the Durham Bulls, did their big league club proud on Saturday night with a 3-2 victory over the Louisville Bats. The win secures Durham a chance to clinch the best-of-5 International League semifinal series Sunday night.
Jeff Niemann shut down the same Bats that stomped on the Bulls in Game 2 to the tune of 19 runs and 24 hits. Saturday night Niemann never let Louisville’s offense take off, as the former top pick fanned 11 and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Niemann allowed just two baserunners prior to Craig Tatum’s double to lead off the eighth.
“Jeff was throwing everything for strikes,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoya said in Sunday’s The News & Observer. “No one could look for anything from him because he was throwing everything for strikes. It was getting to the point where he had the no-hitter and I was going to have to take him out. He was getting to that pitch count. He made a lot of big pitches.”
On the other side of the plate, Jonny Gomes worked a lot of pitches. The outfielder and Major League veteran, Gomes took the 12th pitch of his first at-bat over the fence for a two-run homer. Jon Weber also went 2-for-4 with two runs scored for Durham.
The Bulls did all this despite a 19 minute power outtage at the stadium, something Niemann told MILB.com he had never seen in the middle of a game.
Juding from Saturday’s results the Bulls wouldn’t mind another brief power outtage on Sunday. They enter the game –also in Durham– with a shot to clinch a spot in the Governors’ Cup Finals. Right-hander Wade Davis will take the mound in the 5:05 p.m. contest.
How long before David Price is a member of the Rays?
The answer could be soon, as last year’s No. 1 Overall Pick continues to dominate the Minor Leagues.
Price tossed five shutout innings Thursday night, to improve to 7-0 with Double-A Montgomery. He only gave up three hits while striking out seven, but he did walk four.
Overall, Price’s record is a perfect 11-0 with a 1.87 ERA in 15 starts. He has thrown just over 91 2/3 innings this season and feels he is ready to help the Rays in their quest for a franchise-first playoff bid.
If the 22-year-old Price does get the much-anticipated promotion, it is unclear where the Rays will slot the powerful lefty.
With all five of the Rays current starters performing well, the club would have to decide to either bump an arm into the bullpen or to pitch Price in relief.
The two last rotation spots –owned by Andy Sonnanstine and Edwin Jackson — would figure to be the one’s in question, however both young right-handers have tossed well.
According to Friday morning’s St. Petersburg Times, Sonnanstine would be more likely to lose his spot, as the paper speculates Price would be inserted into the Rays rotation.
Marc Topkin writes: “If Sonnanstine is headed to the bullpen — as could be the case if phenom David Price, who on Thursday improved to 11-0 in the minors, is soon promoted — he is making sure it’s not an easy decision.”
In other Minor League news, top prospect Reid Brignac was placed on the placed on the disabled list after being struck by a pitch on his left wrist on Wednesday.
The 22-year-old infielder is one of the Rays top prospects in Triple-A and was believed to be one of the team’s “untouchable” trading chips at this year’s Trade Deadline. An X-ray taken on Thursday confirmed a wrist fracture and it is uncertain how long Brignac will be shelved.
Prior to the injury, the infielder was hitting .250 with nine home runs and 43 RBI.
To take Brignac’s place, the Bulls promoted shortstop Ronnie Merrill from Double-A Montgomery. Merrill was hitting .263 with six stolen bases in Double-A.
Gomes Watch: Since being reassigned to Durham prior to Tuesday’s Rays game, Jonny Gomes has gone 4-for-9 at the plate, including two doubles and a home run. While the outfielder struggled with limited playing time with the Rays, a string of successful at-bat’s could help the 27-year-old regain his power stroke.
— Brittany Ghiroli