Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Best Team in AAA — Your Durham Bulls
Durham Bulls 5, Memphis Redbirds 4
I figure that almost anyone who reads this blog watched the game, so don’t expect anything new here. Still, a lot of things happened that deserve more than the cursory comment I was able to provide last night. And there are a few odds and ends certainly worth mentioning.
Jeremy Hellickson pitched a terrific five innings. He left the game with a decent 4-0 lead and I thought he was in line for the win. He was also, in spite of what I said last night, deserving of the MVP award.
Jason Cromer had a bad night. Joe Bateman wasn’t much better in his 1 ⅓ innings. If not for three spectacular catches of pitches behind the batters’ backs, it would have been worse. He left the bases loaded for Calvin Medlock and we were lucky to get away with a tie game. Calvin did fine through the 8th. Julio DePaula struck out the side in the 9th, but the 10th got really scary. Bases were loaded with one out when he got a dribbler right back to the mound that allowed him to start a 1-2-3 double play. Mitch Talbot slammed the door in the 11th, setting up the win.
Here’s a tidbit: Mitch Talbot got the first (April 9th) and last (September 22nd) wins of the season. He and I may have been the only guys who knew that before it went up here.
Offensively, the guy who stands out is the veteran Ray Olmedo. Two doubles his first two times at bat (one for a RBI). Two runs scored, the second being the hallmark of a veteran ballplayer and baserunner. Olmedo had doubled in Elliott Johnson and was on second base. Jennings beat out a bunt that moved Ray to third. The Memphis pitcher, who had made the play at first, had his back to the field and Ray (with Montoyo’s encouragement) took off for home.
In the end, Memphis’ manager allowed chaos to reign (or created it?). Michel Hernandez doubled, was pinch run for by Rashad Eldridge, who was then wild pitched to third. Ray Olmedo was intentionally walked, a new pitcher came in, and an outfielder was brought in to the infield to set up a five-man defense because there were no outs and not even a double play would save the game. But the pitcher hadn’t pitched in something like two weeks. The catcher had just come into the game. A wild pitch brought Eldridge home for the win.
Counting last night, the Bulls won five games in a row in the playoffs (and 7 for 9 overall). That’s pretty spectacular.
Six different pitchers won playoff games. Talbot, Hellickson, Cromer, Phillips, and Medlock each won a game. The winner of two games (are you ready for this?) was Joe Bateman.
Don’t know what you may have thought of it, but I thought the ESPN2 coverage of the game was pretty awful. Camera angles were poor; commentary, with a couple of exceptions, just didn’t say much. And Wool E. Bull got no camera time at all!
On the other hand, Neal Solondz and his counterpart from Memphis were doing the broadcast for 99.9 and that was terrific. Once I discovered them about the 5th inning I turned down the TV volume and had a decent night of it.
Other commentary on the game:
Indy Week was at Tyler’s Taproom. MiLB had this story. Marc Lancaster of The Tampa Tribune had this, with some Joe Maddon comments. And the AP, as reported by WRAL had a good story with some good quotes from Charlie Montoyo.
I’ll try to do a retrospective on the season soon. It was a great one. And it has been an enjoyable experience interacting with all the Bulls fans out there. Thanks for looking in, commenting, and keeping me honest (or at least trying to).