Night two of playoff action saw plenty of stories to follow in the Twins farm system. Rochester was kicking off their postseason run with a game in front of their hometown fans and Cedar Rapids had to go on the road. Fort Myers was at home but their season was on the line and a loss would mean the end of their title chances.
Rochester Red Wings 7, Pawtucket Red Sox 1 (Game 1)
Rochester was out to prove that their last day qualification for the Wild Card spot was not a fluke. The team went out and scored runs in the first four innings to grab an early 6-1 lead. Antoan Richardson singled and James Beresford doubled to set up a 2-run first frame. Eduardo Escobar scored Richardson on a sacrifice and this was followed by an RBI-single from Chris Parmelee.
Beresford found himself up in another important spot in the second. With runners on first and second, he cracked a single to center field to score the third run of the game. The third inning was characterized by multiple bunt attempts. Aaron Hicks and Eric Farris bunted in back-to-back at-bats but it took an Eric Fryer single to plate two runs. Hicks would also be responsible for a sac fly in the fifth to cap the early offensive onslaught.
Cole De Vries started for Rochester and pitched into the sixth frame. While striking out six and walking one, he allowed one run on five hits. Aaron Thompson pitched two shutout innings of relief while allowing only one runner to reach base. AJ Achter closed the door in the ninth to cap a key victory for the Red Wings.
Rochester will host the second game of this series against the Red Sox on Thursday. The scheduled pitcher for the Red Wings is PJ Walters. He finished the regular season with a Triple-A record of 7-5 while posting a 4.18 ERA in 103.1 IP. The Red Sox will counter with big league hurler Clay Buchholz who is rehabbing on his way back to help Boston on a run for the AL East crown. In his one Triple-A outing this year, he lasted 3.1 innings and gave up one run on seven hits.
Fort Myers Miracle 1, Charlotte Stone Crabs 2 (Game 2-- 10 innings)
In the first game of the series, the Miracle were shut out and the Stone Crabs were able to sneak away with a 1-0 victory
. This low scoring affair continued into Game 2 of the series with both starting pitchers posting zeros into the eighth inning. Fort Myers needed to find a way to get on the board or their fantastic season would come to an end.
Taylor Rogers was outstanding on the mound and he did everything he could to keep the Miracle from being eliminated. Over nine shutout innings, Rogers limited the Stone Crabs to three hits with nine strikeouts and one walk. With two outs in the ninth, a Stone Crabs batter reached on a single but Rogers talked his way into staying in the game. He struck out the last batter of the frame to finish his nine innings of work.
The Miracle were forced to turn to the bullpen and pitcher Zach Jones. In the Stone Crabs' half of the 10th, the leadoff batter singled and then things started to get a little dicey. During the next at-bat, the runner broke for second but he actually came up short of second base. The throw was high to Levi Michael and the runner was able to pop-up and still make it in before the tag. A walk and a sac bunt put two runners in scoring position.
Jones tried to intentionally walk the next batter but he threw the ball to the backstop and the first run of the game was on the board. After a pop-out bunt, Jones walked a batter but he followed this with another at-bat that included a wild pitch. The Stone Crabs left the top of the 10th with a 2-0 lead and survived a rally in the 10th to end the Miracle's campaign.
The Miracle have been eliminated from the Florida State League Playoffs. Plenty of Miracle players and the coaching staff have been honored for their terrific seasons. The offense just didn't show up over the course of this best of three series. Byron Buxton has been the talk of the prospect world this year and it was tough to see the Miracle season end this way.
Cedar Rapids Kernels 1, Quad Cities River Bandits 2 (Game 1)
The Kernels have been one of the best minor league teams in all baseball this year but anything can happen in the postseason. Players have come and gone from the Cedar Rapids roster but the team kept finding a way to win. Things got off to a good start in the playoffs with the Kernels scoring the first run of this game.
In the top of the second inning, Adam Walker singled to lead off the frame. Mike Gonzales doubled to deep center and Walker was able to come all the way around to score from first. The Kernels would get two more runners on base in the inning but those men were left stranded. Cedar Rapids had their first lead of the series but it wouldn't last.
Quad Cities tied the game in the bottom of the fourth when former first overall pick Carlos Correa worked his way around the bases. It was the only run scored against Kernels starter Brett Lee but it would be an important run for this game. Lee lasted five innings and struck out six. Alex Muren came on in relief and was fantastic. He struck out three over two innings and didn't allow a hit.
Cedar Rapids looked to swipe the lead back from the River Bandits in the fifth. After a Niko Goodrum walk, there were men at first and second. Jorge Polanco hit one up the middle but the pitcher knocked it down and was able to record the out at first. This left two runners in scoring position and Max Kepler in the batters box. In an unfortunate turn of events, Kepler popped up to the first baseman in foul territory and the Kernels never had another runner in scoring position.
Game 2 of this series is scheduled for Thursday evening in Cedar Rapids. Tim Shubya will take his perfect 4-0 record to the mound for the Kernels. Over 37.2 innings, he posted a 0.96 ERA while striking out 25 and walking four. Single-A opponents were able to hit only .173 against him and he has pitched seven innings or more in his last three starts. This included a complete game shutout the last time he was on the mound.