Right-hander Alex Colome had been practically untouchable since his return to Triple-A Durham. Until Saturday night, at least.
Colome, the Rays' No. 5 prospect, entered Saturday with a 3-0 record and a 0.68 ERA in his first four starts with Durham after serving a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. But he gave up nine runs on eight hits and two walks in just 1 1/3 innings on Saturday in a game the Bulls lost, 16-3, to the Syracuse Chiefs.
Only one of those runs came in the first inning, but things got out of hand quickly in the second. Colome gave up hits to the first four batters he faced, hit the fifth and surrendered a two-run double to the sixth batter before finally recording an out. Colome served up another hit and a walk before finally being removed after 56 pitches.
Before Saturday's ugly outing, Colome had allowed only 20 hits and six walks while striking out 25 batters over 26 2/3 innings. Opponents were hitting .217/.265/.293 off the 25-year-old right-hander, who has served two stints in the Majors with Tampa Bay.
What makes Colome's start Saturday even more interesting is that he could be an option to make a spot start for the Rays on Friday, when they'll play a doubleheader in Baltimore. Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson could also fill that spot if he's ready to rejoin Tampa Bay's rotation following his fourth rehab start for Durham on Sunday, but the Rays haven't announced their plan for Hellickson beyond this weekend.