Durham Bulls 4, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees 1
Bulls lead Governor’s Cup 2-0
The night was ugly, but the baseball was pretty. A little over two thousand of us (2,480 to be exact) came early and stayed through the light rain that came down all night. Some broke out their umbrellas, some just moved back underneath the roof. Plenty of room.
Unlike most nights, everyone there seemed to understand the larger goings on — no need to explain who Rashad Eldridge was or why Mitch Talbot was only going to pitch a couple of innings. If you made a comment — such as one I heard at the top of the 4th inning when Desmond Jennings got a leadoff single, “About time the leadoff man got on base.” — folks around you nodded their heads. They all knew that Jennings’ playoff performance has been below par. Little bits of game trivia got passed around — “Ray Olmedo is the only Bull who doesn’t have a strike out.” “Bateman got the win when he came in for Talbot in the first game of the Louisville series.” “Damn, that’s three games in a row for DePaula, but he did have a day off.” “Did you know that’s only the second home run in the entire playoff series for the Bulls?”
Everyone knew that this was the last home game of the season. Even if the weather was crummy, we were all going to stay, because this is a really good team this year and they are capable of playing really good baseball. Which is what they did last night.
I have to admit that the Bulls had some good fortune at the front end of the game because the Yankees’ re-habbing Ian Kennedy was on a low pitch count. It was three-up and three-down for three innings (six strikeouts). But he had to leave and Kei Igawa came in. Now, I don’t want to say that the Bulls have got Igawa’s number, but back on August 15th we touched him up for five runs in one inning. Not quite the same last night, but when Igawa came on in the 4th Desmond Jennings got a single and Rashad Eldridge doubled him home to tie the game. It would be another couple of innings before Eldridge’s homer in the 6th put us ahead.
Good pitching and solid defense kept us in the game. A simply brilliant Johnson-Rodriguez-Dillon double play in the 2nd abruptly shut down a serious Yankees threat. If you weren’t there (even if you were) you need to see that play. Click over to the Bulls website and then click on the video highlights box and watch it. Back up and watch it again. Maybe again. Johnson flips ball with his glove behind his back to Rodriguez who barehands it and chunks it to Joe Dillon. Pretty, pretty, pretty. OK, watch it again.
Two more double plays ended the 4th and the 8th innings, although I guess the one in the 4th wasn’t exactly a double play. It was an out and an interference call for the second out. At any rate, the Yankees rarely got anyone into scoring position and when they did only once did they get home.
Julio DePaula and Winston Abreu have become one heck of a tag team. In the first game against Louisville DePaula came on in the 8th and held them, Abreu came on in the 9th and closed it out (no save, we were ahead by a good bit). In the third game, Julio came on with two outs in the 7th and a one run lead, kept things quiet through the 8th, and Abreu slammed the door in the 9th. In the deciding fifth game against Louisville, Julio came on with two outs in the 6th, handed it off to Winston with one out in the 8th, and Abreu got a save. Against the Yankees the night before last DePaula came on with two outs in the 7th and handed it over the Abreu to close out the 9th. And then last night Julio came on the in the 8th, ground out, single, double play. Abreu came on in the 9th, K, single, K, K.
Here’s the thing: Every win in the playoffs has been a DePaula/Abreu show at the end. But tonight my man Jason Cromer is on the mound and Julio/Winston may not be available (although I wouldn’t put it past Charlie if he needs them). I would really like to hear that we finished the Yankees off. So here’s hoping the rest of the bullpen gets a chance to show their stuff (assuming Jason needs it). Let’s wrap this up Bulls!
In the meantime, it has been a great year at the DBAP. They showed a fan appreciation video which, if they get it up on YouTube as they usually do, I’ll link to it. Nicely done and fun to watch on the way out of the park last night. It’s been great. Hope to see all of you again next year when the Bulls open their season by beating the Tampa Bay Rays.