Saturday, April 24, 2010
Game 16: Durham Bulls 5, Gwinnett Braves 4
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun, Indy Week
That’s eight wins in a row. Can’t ask for more than that.
All the links lead with Jeremy Hellickson’s woes in his 3+ innings, so let’s skip that and jump right to Justin Ruggiano and the 7th inning. By that time the Bulls were behind 1 to 4. The Braves were on their third pitcher, Scott Proctor, and he’d gotten two quick outs before giving up a single to Elliot Johnson. By my count Ruggiano stood in for at least seven pitches, with Johnson stealing second base somewhere along the way. Then he whacked one off the pitch speed sign in left center. That two-run homer got us to 3-4 and cracked Procter. It was followed by a Blalock single, a Dan Johnson walk, a Joe Dillon single, and a RBI Chris Richard single. If Dan Johnson hadn’t tried to score, we might still be playing. But the game was tied. In the next inning Justin was back at bat with Alvin Colina and Elliot Johnson on base. A double scored Colina, and that was enough.
Did I mention Justin’s throw to the plate that cut off a run in the 3rd? Should have. Five Braves were put out after they got on base last night. In addition to Ruggiano’s peg, Colina threw out two who were trying to steal, one was called out on interference when he couldn’t dodge a ground ball, and a fifth over-ran second and was tagged out.
This is one tough team to beat. A truly awful start didn’t hurt the Bulls nearly as much as it could have because good defense kept us in the game. Then we got 4+ terrific innings from Brian Baker to keep the Braves in check. Finally we just hammered Scott Proctor in the 7th with some solid batting. Nevertheless, Gwinnett looks to be our competition in the Southern Division. I’m betting at the end of the season it will be the Braves and the Bulls who are in contention for the title.
Almost left out Joaquin Benoit and his save. His pitch speed was up to 94 and he looked really, really good. Possibly ready for prime time.