Thursday, September 10, 2009

Durham Bulls Win Game One of Playoffs

Durham Bulls 8, Louisville Bats 4
Wrap, Box

The leadoff batter for first game of the AAA International League Playoffs last night was the AA Southern League MVP (Desmond Jennings). The starting pitcher for the Louisville Bats was the Southern League Pitcher of the Year (Travis Wood).

Checking out the lineups I realized the Governor’s Cup teams are the best of our respective prospects who played in AA this year and our AAA veterans. Not that we don’t have a few left who could go up this year or even today (e.g., Matt Joyce). These are the lineups we’re both very likely to see next year in the regular season. Welcome to 2010!

The official attendance was 1,809, quite possibly the smallest of the year. That seems to be typical for a playoff game, certainly for the last three years. Not quite sure why, since the crowd was smaller that even the usual mid-week game. My guess is that it has something to do with marketing, or lack thereof, and the dismal state of affairs of sports coverage in the Triangle in general. But at least those who were there were definitely into the game. Even heard a few Louisville fans cheering over by their dugout.

But, what about the game? Pretty good. Jeremy Hellickson only gave up three hits, unfortunately two of them were home runs. He was throwing a lot of pitches and really working hard. By the 6th inning he was near 100 pitches and when the leadoff batter reached on Sean Rodriguez’s third error, he walked the next batter. He then made a play to disrupt a sacrifice attempt, struck out a batter, and left the game at 109 pitches with two outs, men on first and second and the score tied at 3-3. Twelve strikeouts and three walks showed that he’s is very much the real thing. He’ll be the Wade Davis of 2010 for sure.

Travis Wood, the Bats starting pitcher, pretty much gave his own game away with two throwing errors in the 5th that led to three runs and a tie. The next inning the Bulls' aggressiveness paid off with five runs being scored after two outs were on the board.

New Bull Sean Rodriguez was at second base last night and truly snake-bit. Although none of his errors led to runs, they had a lot to do with Hellickson’s pitch count being driven up so high so early.

Ray Olmedo was a star with three hits, as was Matt Joyce with three singles and two RBIs. Sean Rodriguez’s two RBIs somewhat made up for his mistakes. Joe Dillon had two RBIs on a double and Wood's error.

The third time was the charm for Justin Ruggiano. In the 4th he came up with Matt Joyce on second and Rodriguez on first, and struck out. In the 5th he came up with Joyce and Rodriguez on base, and struck out. In the 6th he came up with Rodriguez on first. Rodriguez stole second and Ruggiano hit an RBI single.

Bateman, DePaula, and Abreu looked just fine in closing things out.


  1. I'd say the attendance is certainly affected by the fact that kids are back in school. In the seats around me, I saw only two fans of high school age or under.

    But as the usher said to our section, "Only the true fans are out tonight!" Go Bulls!


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