Monday, September 18, 2017

Bulls v Redbirds Matchup

The St Louis Cardinals AAA team, the Memphis Redbirds won the Pacific Coast League championship (story here). So they are going to show up for tomorrow's AAA championship game up in Moosic, Pennsylvania at the home field of the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, the place where the Bulls just won the International League Governors' Cup.

Just to establish a modest amount of credibility up front — the idea of a one-game "national championship" makes no sense at all. That said, if the Bulls win, I'll wear the T-shirt.

These numbers are the end-of-season stats for the Bulls and the Redbirds. The teams are pretty close, but the Memphis crew has a substantial edge in hitting, while the Bulls pitching looks pretty good.



But that's at the end of the season. Now both teams have two rounds of playoffs behind them and they both won their championship in hostile territory.

So intangibles will rule.
  • Which starting pitcher will do best after the longest rest period either of them will have had all year? Same goes for the relievers. 
  • Are any of the players looking for a call-up? The Cardinals are 4½ back in the NL wild card; the Rays are 5½ back. Maybe not.
  • The Bulls have been hanging out in Scranton for several days; perhaps taking bp and working out every day. The Redbirds possibly went back to Memphis enroute to Moosic.
  • Which manager will make the best calls and the best moments? 
For us, we all need to hope that the TV broadcast crew is better than the last time. For that game, they went off into off-topic story-telling and completely ignored events on the field. Have not heard if Patrick Kinas will be broadcasting on the radio. Hope so. If he does, that will be the place to find out how these teams match up.

By the way, back in 2009 the Bulls played this same team for the AAA National Championship.
And we wrote about it. The Bulls won. In the 11th inning. Check out the box score for a trip down memory lane. Elliot Johnson, Justin Ruggiano, Ray Olmedo, Joe Dillon, Desmond Jennings, Jeremy Hellickson, Joe Bateman, Mitch Talbot. Quite a crew.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Durham Bulls Win Governors' Cup



Durham Bulls: 6; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: 4
Box, Wrap (Durham), Wrap (SWB), Wrap (MiLB), Scranton Times-Tribune, Durham Herald-Sun

At the beginning it looked like the Bulls were going to run away with this game, but the RailRiders kept coming back. In the end, however, the Bulls prevailed.

This is a very good team and I want to thank them for all the thrills they've given us this year. It's been a lot of fun.

I would be remiss if, in WDBB tradition, if I didn't point out a few oddities of this last game.

The pitching crew was not (mostly) the crew that got the Bulls into the playoffs.
  • Starting pitcher, Burch Smith, only had three regular season appearances for the Bulls and had pitched just 16⅓ innings. 
  • He was followed by Adam Kolarek, who was an exception. Kolarek had 41 regular season appearances with the Bulls for 43⅔ innings. He had three post-season appearances.
  • Hunter Wood was also an exception. Wood made 19 regular season appearances (including 6 starts) for 53⅓ innings. In post-season he had 3 appearances and got the win last night.
  • Jonny Venters had 1 appearance for 1 inning in the regular season, but 3 in the post-season.
  • Mike Broadway had 6 appearances for 15 innings in the regular season and 3 post-season appearances. 
  • Diego Casillo, who got the save, came up in June and was a stalwart of the regular season with 30 appearances for 42⅔ innings. He had three appearances with 2 saves in the post-season.
On the other hand, the offense were mostly team regulars.
  • Daniel Robertson, who got the big hits of the night (4 RBI) was an exception since he only had 11 regular season games (but he had 116 in 2016).
  • Kean Wong, Jake Bauers (who got the Governors' Cup MVP award), Shane Peterson, and Justin O'Conner all got hits and scored runs.
My understanding is that the Bulls are going to hang out in the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area until Tuesday, waiting for the winner of the Pacific Coast League Championship to show up for the Triple-A National Championship game to show up.

Regarding that:

El Paso Chihuahuas: 2; Memphis Redbirds: 0
Box, Wrap
Redbirds lead series 2-1.

Note: 2017 Governors' Cup T-Shirts are in the Ballpark store.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Bulls Win; Lead Series 2-1

Durham Bulls: 6; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: 2
Wrap(D), Wrap (SWB), MiLB.com, Scranton Times-Tribune, Box

Brent Honeywell looked really, really good (even when his infield got sloppy), Shane Peterson crushed one over the center field wall, Patrick Leonard made a perfect throw from left field to home (video at the MiLB link), and the Bulls are one game away from the Governors' Cup.

Meanwhile ...

Memphis Redbirds: 2; El Paso Chihuahuas: 0
Wrap, Box

Memphis won in extra innings and is heading to El Paso with a 2-0 lead in the PCL Championship.

Notes:
  • Whoever plays in the "Triple-A National Championship" to be held in Moosic next week can only hope that the TV crew gets a serious upgrade. Guess we are spoiled by the quality of the setup at the DBAP, but the folks up there need some help to improve the shot angles, on-screen graphics, and more.
  • I think I heard Patrick Kinas say that if the Bulls win, they are just going to stay up in  Pennsylvania until Tuesday's game.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bulls-RailRiders Split Shutouts; Off to Moosic

Durham Bulls: 6; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: 0
Wrap (D), Wrap (SWB),  Box

Ryan Yarborough's shaky start redeemed by double play and the Bulls never looked back.

Durham Bulls: 0; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: 4
Wrap (D), Wrap (MiLB), Box

I suppose you could complain about the Rays dumping two (count 'em, TWO!) rehabbing pitchers into the Bulls lineup in a playoff game. But Nathan Eovaldi and Xavier Cedeno weren't why the Bulls lost the second game. The Bulls lost to an exceptional pitching performance by the RailRiders Domingo German who only allowed one hit of seven innings.

I've made a bit of fun about how the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders do not play in either Scranton or Wilkes-Barre. They play in Moosic. Here's why and it actually makes a bit of sense (even if the name of the team does not). Click "view larger map" for context.



Meanwhile, over in Memphis the Redbirds won against the Chihuahuas 6 to 4. That would be the St Louis Cardinals AAA team the Memphis Redbirds and the San Diego Padres AAA team the El Paso Chihuahuas. Weather is giving the PCL championships fits, so they play at noon today and head off to El Paso.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Bulls v RailRiders in Governors' Cup Finals

This is the matchup that seemed to be coming all year. The RailRiders went through the season with an exceptional won-loss record, although they stumbled just a little bit near the end. Nevertheless, they ended the year leading the entire International League in almost every statistical category.

The Bulls played the RailRiders seven times this year, all in August. In the four games at the DPAC, the Bulls split 2-2. Up in Moosic (the Scranton/Wilks-Barre team plays in neither Scranton nor Wilkes-Barre), the Bulls won 2 of 3. In other words, they are 4-3 on the season. The RailRiders are the defending Governors' Cup champions, which might give them a slight edge.

The biggest intangibles are the impact of September transactions, management skills, sheer luck ... and IRMA, whose impact may delay things tomorrow.



Bulls are working out today. Game time tomorrow is 6:35.

Here's the hit that won Saturday's game.



Sunday, September 10, 2017

Bulls Win Game #4; First Round of Governors' Cup

Durham Bulls: 4; Indianapolis Indians: 3
Wrap, Indianapolis Wrap, Box

The Bulls won game 4 to win the first round of the International League Governors' Cup series. Now they come home to face either the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders or the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (SWB leads 2-1).

Durham relievers made all the difference after Justin O'Conner's single drove in two runs in the 8th. Hunter Wood got the first out of the 8th; Adam Kolarek got the second; Diego Castillo got the third. Then Castillo went on to get the save in the 9th.

Up in Moosic ...

Lehigh Valley IronPigs: 1; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: 6
Wrap, Box, Scranton Times

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Bulls Shut Out in Game #3

Durham Bulls: 0; Indianapolis Indians: 5
Indy Wrap, IL WrapBox

We haven't seen a "wrap" from the Bulls this morning, but listening to parts of the game it was clear that the Indian's pitching was dominant. I have to say that I was a bit puzzled by Sandberg's use of two pitchers in the 6th inning, followed by letting newcomer Brandon Lawson twist in the wind through the 7th and 8th. Another difference last night was some  minor roster shuffling with Jake Hager playing at 2B and Michael McKenry catching.

Brent Honeywell is scheduled to start tonight. He has not pitched since Sep 3 when he put in a fine outing down at Gwinnett. So he should be rested.

In the North:

Lehigh Valley IronPigs: 2; Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: 4
Wrap, Box, Times-Leader

They are tied 1-1 now and move to Moosic, PA to wind up their series.