Game 135: Bulls 10, Braves 9
Games Left in Season: 9; Home Games: 6
Wrap, Box, Indy Week
A baseball player’s (and fan’s) dream moment: Two runs down, two outs, bases-loaded, bottom of the last inning, three balls, two strikes. Young guy on the mound, experienced guy at the plate. About midnight last night that’s what happened in the bottom of the 14th. Jon Weber hit a double to deep right-center field, cleared the bases, and three runs scored. The Durham Bulls won their sixth straight game and took over first place in the South Division of the International League.
To be honest, except for two moments, it really was a very tedious game. So tedious that the first 6 innings took well over two hours to play. At the end of the 6th Gwinnett was up 6-2 and we were into our third pitcher of the night. I was writing a rant in my head about how Tampa Bay had really done a number on us by pulling Andy Sonnanstine out of his rotation here to have him ready for a game in their jukebox in St Pete next week. We’ve only got four starters as it is, and they just pulled one of those so we’re going to eat up the bullpen, again. Halama, the Braves starter, is not only old (37) he’s slow, and crafty to boot. The game was just creeping along.
So we left and listened to the game on the radio on the way home. Got home, turned on the TV just to watch the 9th and refine my rant against the Tampa Bay Rays. But then one of the two actual exciting moments of the game occurred (the first being the Weber double already recounted): Reid Brignac homered off of the Braves fifth pitcher and closer Luis Valdez to tie the game at 7-all. By this time we’ve gone through four pitchers: Joe Bateman, Julio DePaula, Joe Nelson, and Dale Thayer. Winston Abreu pitched the 10th and 11th. Jason Childers pitched the 12th. Shutout ball, but we’re out of pitchers.
Third baseman Ray Olmedo takes the mound for the 13th inning. What an odd sight to see a guy with a dirty uniform and a glove that looked like it had actually been used out there on the mound. Imagine that, a baseball player pitching! Not only that, he gets a ground out, walks a guy (X. comes out to talk, I think maybe to tell Ray how to pitch from a stretch.), and the next guy gets handled by a nifty double play initiated by Chris Richard at first. The 14th inning doesn’t go as well for Ray with a homer, double, and a combination sac fly and error, scoring two runs.
But Ray gets to be part of the drama in the 14th by following Reid Brignac’s single with a single of his own, followed by a walk to Michel Hernandez. An earlier out by Fernando Perez and a strikeout by Elliot Johnson set the stage for Jon Weber’s heroics.
Click on the video box on the Bulls website to see the key plays (and listen to Neil Solondz go nuts).
By the way, the big deal announced through the Bulls tweet was something of a big deal, but it had to do with 2010 and beyond. I was expecting something about players and roster changes, so it took me a while to adjust. The press release is here, and Adam Sobsey gives a good account here. To summarize, the 2010 schedule is out; the Bulls will play the Rays in an exhibition game in early April in the DBAP (that should be cool, and we’ll get a Bulls roster early); the Bulls will play the Mud Hens in the refurbished DAP for one game; and the Bulls extended their affiliation with the Rays for a bunch more years.
Regarding roster changes: other than gutting our starting rotation as mentioned above, no news on that front.
I’m hoping our guys can recover from last night and that Hellickson can go a lot of innings this evening. In the meantime, we’re in first place, all is right with the world.