Game 144: Durham Bulls 3, Norfolk Tides 4
Just looking down from the stands you knew this was going to be a different kind of game. Henry Mateo was playing first base. Chris Richard, Justin Ruggiano, and Joe Dillon weren’t in the game. Leaning up against the rail was Mitch Talbot, of all people. Last seen in Durham when he won a game against Rochester on May 27th, Mitch sort of disappeared into disabled list limbo after that. At the plate the Bulls were all using the same bat, reportedly one of Jon Weber’s that he left behind. They got two home runs off of it during the game (Johnson and Eldridge).
On the mound for the Bulls was Jason Cromer. He was followed by Calvin Medlock, Mike Wlodarczyk (in his first AAA appearance), Joe Bateman, Julio DePaula, and Joe Nelson. Obviously, Charlie Montoyo was giving his bullpen some exercise, but not too much.
Because it was the last game of the year, it looked like the players on both teams were pretty much swinging away. Very few base runners and no runs at all until Johnson’s homer in the 7th. Then Bateman (the first Joe) came on in the 8th. Unlike previous Bateman experiences, this did not work out well. Pop up, single, single, single, walk, walk, pitcher change, double play. Two runs and it was 1-2. But Eldridge hit a home run in the 8th to tie it. Joe Nelson (the second Joe) came on in the 10th and got two quick outs. But a home run, single, stolen base, and a double made it 2-4. In the bottom of the 10th we got one back, but the Bulls couldn’t pull off their usual comebacks.
Nevertheless, the Bulls have one of their best years ever. We go into the playoffs in pretty good shape if these young pitchers hold up.
The loss of Chris Richard will be important. He was put on a plane to New York immediately after today’s game to fill a hole created by a season-ending injury to Carlos Peña. Guess he didn’t get there in time for the second game of the Rays’ double-header with the Yankees since he didn’t appear in the lineup (8:00 pm).
The radio reported that Jeremy Hellickson will start Game 1 against the Bats and Mitch Talbot will start Game 2, Jason Cromer Game 3, and next, well who knows? Maybe we won't need a game 4. If Mitch is in shape, he could make all the difference.