Up in New England, the Binghamton Mets played game two of their series against the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. After dropping game one Friday by an 8-7 score, the B-Mets entered Saturday’s action tied for first place in the Eastern Division with the Trenton Thunder.
Rafael Montero climbed the hill for Binghamton opposed by New Hampshire’s Ryan Tepera. The Mets jumped on the Fisher Cats starter early and often. Cory Vaughn‘s double in the first inning delivered Daniel Muno home with the game’s first run. In the second, Daniel Muno’s two run home run gave the Mets a 3-0 lead. Catcher Blake Forsythe led off the third inning with a single, and later scored on a fielder’s choice. With Ryan Tepera out of the game in the fifth, Daniel Muno delivered an RBI single off reliever Matt Wright to give the Mets a 5-0 lead.
Feb 21, 2013; Port St Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Rafael Montero (74) poses for a picture during photo day at Tradition Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Rafael Montero issued a walk and gave up a single in the first inning, then retired the next eleven batters he faced before allowing two more singles in the fifth. He walked one and struck out three batters through five full. Montero had thrown seventy-six pitches to that point, fifty for strikes.
In the top of the sixth, both Fisher Cats center fielder Kevin Pillar and manager Gary Allenson were ejected from the game by the home plate umpire. Binghamton then proceeded to put a runner in scoring position on consecutive two out singles by Forsythe and Darrell Ceciliani. But after Ceciliani stole third, DH Joe Bonfe grounded out to second. In the bottom of the frame, Rafael Montero retired the first two Fisher Cats he faced before allowing his fourth single of the game. Montero then completed his sixth shutout inning of the night. In his final inning of work, Rafael Montero allowed one last single in the seventh inning, and posted one more zero on the scoreboard before handing the game over to reliever Chase Huchingson.
For good measure, Cory Vaughn hit his sixth home run of the season in the top of the eighth to give the Mets a 6-0 lead, and eventual final score. Chase Huchingson pitched two scoreless innings in a non-save situation. He allowed no hits and struck out two batters to preserve Binghamton’s shutout over the Fisher Cats.
Improving to a 32-24 record, Saturday’s win gave Binghamton sole possession of first place, one full game over the Portland Sea Dogs and Trenton Thunder, who are currently tied for second in the Eastern Division. The rubber game between Binghamton and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats is scheduled for Sunday. After a day off on Monday, the B-Mets will host the Trenton Thunder for a likely first place showdown.
While improving his season record to 6-3 with his third consecutive victory, Rafael Montero pitched seven full innings – his longest outing of the season. He allowed no runs on five hits, walked one and struck out four. He also committed a balk in the fifth inning. Rafael threw a total of 102 pitches on the night, seventy for strikes. Montero entered the game with a 3.08 ERA, and lowered it to a 2.72 mark. Take away his May 1st start in which he allowed seven earned runs in 6.2 innings, and his ERA reads even better.
Rafael Montero, 22, has made ten starts for Binghamton this season. In 59.2 innings pitched, he has limited opponents to forty-nine hits, as batters are hitting just .194 against him. Montero has only issued nine walks so far, for a 1.4 BB/9 average, which all computes to a 0.982 WHIP. In seven of his ten starts, he allowed one walk or less. Rafael has surrendered only two home runs (AA) this season, and none since May 1st. He has sixty-six strikeouts which averages to slightly over ten per nine innings pitched. With just one poor outing on his docket, Montero appears to have Eastern League hitters licked. Mind you, this is just his third year in the minors, and his first season starting at AA Binghamton. In mid-May, he also demonstrated a proficiency against AAA hitters in his lone start for the Las Vegas 51’s, in which he pitched 6.2 innings, allowed two earned runs on four hits, one being a home run, while only walking one batter and striking out five. In fact, he has done nothing but excel during stints through Brooklyn, Savannah, St. Lucie, and presently in Binghamton.
So, what’s next for the Mets’ right-hander? It is fast coming time to make pitching more challenging for the Mets prospect via providing him with better competition. For now, the choices are to leave him right where he is, or promote him to AAA Las Vegas. Once there, the question then becomes, does he finish the 2013 season with the 51’s, or do the Mets eventually extend him an invitation to Flushing sometime after the July trade deadline – that’s assuming he pitches well. First impression – Sandy Alderson seems reluctant to promote Montero to Vegas and expose him to the perils of pitching in the Pacific Coast League. However, leaving Montero in Binghamton to dominate the Eastern League could wind up being counter-productive. Perhaps a promotion to Las Vegas is indeed warranted at this point. Montero is a location pitcher who pounds the strike zone. Pitching in the PCL therefore should be a small matter to him.