Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fourteen Innings, Five Hours, Seven Pitchers, First Place

Game 135: Bulls 10, Braves 9
Season: 77-58
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.


  1. Regarding roster moves, I think we are getting a couple pitchers from Montgomery. RHP Rayner Oliveros (bullpen, I think) and RHP Heath Rollins (starter, I think). I don't know anything else about them.

    Bizarre game last night. Ray deserves a lot of credit for his pitching. Hopefully he doesn't have to go again tonight.

  2. Hmm... maybe I got that backwards. Oliveros is a starter and Rollins a bullpen arm. I think. Maybe.

  3. We left sometime in the 8th inning because clearly the game was lost, the game was progressing at a glacial pace, we had to stop down at the office to pick up a prize possession from the jersey auction (thanks, Dave), and we figured we could beat the rush of cars exiting as the stands were still packed.

    We listened to the game on the radio and shouted ourselves silly. Talk about a heart attack... this was it.

    I think I'm in love with Jon Weber. Don't tell my husband. Or his wife. What an asset for the team. A genuine leader for the team, a good sportsman, a blast to watch, and often the key to a win. I will miss him. We'll all miss him. A lot.

    Pitching is likely to be our Achilles heel over the next few days, though.

    Onward to the playoffs, Bulls!

  4. Tried to chase down Oliveros and Rollins. They've been both starters and relievers this year. My guess is that Charlie will do whatever Tampa Bay tells him to do with them -- and that looks like Oliveros starting and Rollins relieving. Good to have them with us, though.

  5. Def an "It ain't over til its over game"

    Listened to it on the radio and ran out of steam at 11PM


  6. Amazing game to see! We were joking last night that Wool E. might have to come in for some relief. Wouldn't be surprised to see him in there today!

  7. In regards to a DH ..... I think I've figured out how Perez played in the outfield an inning and a half after he "pinch-ran". But can a pitcher be his own designated hitter? If not, how could Ray come to bat in the 14th?

    202M5&6 (a.k.a. Richard)

  8. My understanding is that, with the various moves, the Bulls forfeited their DH. So Ray was batting as the pitcher, not as the DH.

  9. Here’s the way I think it works:

    In the 10th Perez pinch ran for Riggans and stayed in the game as the DH (he struck out in the 12th). In the 13th when Olmedo was called in to pitch I think you’re right, you lose the DH. What Montoyo did, probably looking at the battting order for the next inning, was move Dillon to third, put Richard in for Matt Joyce but playing at first, and Perez in the field for Joyce.

    No near-term benefit, since Richard had a fly-out in 13th, and Perez struck out in the 14th. Olmedo kept his spot in the batting order and got one of the key hits of the 14th.

    Fun to read through the log (click on the recap link on box score page) of the game. Can't imagine trying to keep my scorecard up to date on this one (I quit in 6th).