Charlotte Knights: 1
Durham Bulls: 9
Season: 34-41; Home Stand: 4-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun
Game Score: Pruitt 57; Season Avg 58 (16 starts, 86 innings)
Tm OPS: Game 1.167 (season high); Avg .654
Tm wOBA: Game .508 (season high); Avg .295
The shortest game of the year was one of the most thrilling — home runs, manager tossed, storm clouds hulking over the outfield walls, an exceptional play at 3B, a win (and 4-game sweep), and a move into second place in the IL South.
Let's work this back to front, because the end of the game saw a very professional, yet nearly unique play. Weather began closing in around the DBAP in the 3rd inning. I started moving toward the exit above center field in the 4th inning when the rain started blowing in. What was urgent at that time was to get in 5 innings before the weather halted the game. The Bulls were ahead 9 to 1 and if they didn't "finish" soon the game would have to be resumed at some date in the future. The Bulls had a quick bottom of the 4th. Now, if they could just get through the top of the 5th.
The first Charlotte batter of the 5th, Nicky Delmonico, floated a popup over third baseman Richie Shaffer's head The wind scrambled things up and the shortstop, third baseman, and left fielder ended up in a cluster around the ball. Richie Shaffer's throw came in to the pitcher Austin Pruit in the middle of the infield and Delmonico figured he could make it to an open third base. He had not counted on the sheer baseball smarts of catcher J.P. Arencibia. Arencibia was at the bag, took Pruitt's throw, and made the out. I don't think I've seen a catcher cover third base before except for a rundown. Terrific play. Perhaps the game-winning play.
But wait. There's more. The rains intensified. The next batter grounded out, but it took six pitches to get there. The rain was getting harder. On the fourth pitch to the next batter, a fly ball went to left and Jake Goebbert laid himself out for the inning-ending out. If Goebbert doesn't make that play, the game would be suspended. Instead of eventually being called. Boom! I'm running for my car. The tarp is coming out as the skies opened up.
From Charlotte's point of view, I'd guess they'd put it down to sheer bad luck in the 2nd inning. Their pitcher, Scott Carroll had K'd the side in the 1st inning. But Dayron Verona led off the 2nd inning with a home run (his 9th). Then J.P. Arencibia and Luke Maile singled and a passed ball put runners on second and third. Juniel Querecuto K'd for the first out and Cameron Seitzer's ground ball didn't go far enough so that J.P. Arencibia was caught trying to get home. That put runners on 1B and 3B with two outs. It looked like Charlotte was going to get out the inning.
Not so fast. Charlotte's third baseman's throw on Johnny Field's ground ball bit the dirt, skipped past the first baseman, a run scored, and Bulls went on the second and third base. Things came undone. Two singles, two walks, and a double later, 6 runs had scored in the inning, Carroll had thrown 65 pitches, and he was out of there.
It could have been even worse. Of course, J.P. Arencibia was in the middle of it. On his second at-bat of the inning, he lofted a ball over the Blue Monster that the ump called a home run. That would have been three more runs. It was an obviously bad call to those of us on the first base side of the field (although we were not going to say anything!) and Charlotte players and their manager erupted and got an umps' conference. The umps reversed the call and Jared Sandberg jumped into it. He must've said something ugly, because he got tossed just as the Bulls baserunners were going back to their bases and Arencibia went back to bat. His objection and ejection were particularly silly on Sandberg's part. If anyone should have seen it was foul it would have been Sandberg from his 3B coaching position. What was there to argue about? By my count, that was the third time this season he's been tossed this year.
By the way, Arencibia drew a walk. Pitchers were changed. Luke Maile flew out to end the inning with the bases loaded. 12 Durham Bulls came to bat in the inning.
In the 3rd inning the Bulls added three more runs on a Jake Goebbert sac fly and a Richie Shaffer double. The rains were coming.
Austin Pruitt gets a "complete game" win out of the deal. And he did look just fine throughout.
This is a very odd circumstance. The Bulls were swept three games to Norfolk, the worst team in the International League. Then they win four in a row from the team that leads the IL South Division. Plus the Bulls move into second place in the division even though they are 7 games below .500.
Apparently, Shaffer's injury on Wednesday was not all that bad. Reportage on the radio said that when he hit the ground he felt an immediate numbness down his arm and side, something he'd never felt before and that's why he was taken out of the game. In his pregame interview, Sandberg did not sound concerned at all and Shaffer played just fine.
Outside the game —
- Two new Bulls were seen leaning on the dugout rail last night. One transaction has been announced. The other will probably come out today.
- Eury Perez was acquired from the Houston Astros. He's been playing in Fresno (How come the Astros AAA team is in Fresno, CA?). Looks to be our (or at least WDBB's) kind of guy — a speedy center fielder. Stats.
- Jacob Faria was also in the dugout. We are assuming he's coming up from Montgomery. The 22-year-old right-hander had a stunning 2015 at Port Charlotte and Montgomery. Less impressive this year with a 4.21 ERA in 83 innings. Still, a legit prospect who chose to go pro out of high school. Radio guys said he was going go into the rotation and that Eddie Gamboa was going back to the bullpen. Stats.
- Dr. Miraculous has posted his take on the Montgomery Biscuits season to date.