Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Durham Bulls Return to Form

Game 26: Durham Bulls 10, Rochester Redwings 2
Season: 16-10
Wrap, Box

All it takes for a win is great pitching and timely hitting. If only it were that simple all the time.

Really nice to see the 2010 Durham Bulls back in form, though.

After the one-hitter we had against a knuckleballer in Buffalo, and then a three pop-up first inning against the Redwings knuckleballer Charlie Zink, the leadoff Redwing hit a home run. Things did not look good. But the Redwings didn’t score again until the 7th.

In the meantime, Fernando Perez hit a three-run homer to cap a five-run second inning. For the numbers-minded, that was Perez' first home run of the year, his 6th in two Triple A seasons, and he had 3 in his 23 games with the Rays in 2008. Elliot Johnson and Joe Dillon had good days as well. Elliot (playing short) was 2 for 4, with two doubles, a walk, 2 RBI, and he scored a run. Joe Dillon (playing second) was 2 for 3, with a home run, 2 walks, 1 RBI, and scored four runs.

The Bulls drew 6 walks last night. An interesting feature of this team is their plate discipline. The Bulls have drawn 111 walks this year and lead the International League in that category. That’s a lot of folks on the bases (and trying to steal in our case).

Jeremy Hellickson is really something. Sure hopes he stays with us for a few more months. We really need him. He pitches extremely well and gets deep into games (and efficiently, only 92 pitches in seven full innings last night). Unless or until the Rays get us at least one more starting pitcher, the more rest the bullpen has the better.

A look at the bench:

Angel Chavez (hamstring) is reported to be at 80%. The Bulls have Wednesday off, so he should be ready by Thursday morning’s game.

Desmond Jennings (shoulder) got a little bit of playing time in the 9th last night, but hasn’t had an at bat since April 22.

Justin Ruggiano had a twinge in his left bicep in an at bat in Sunday’s game. Out for an unknown, but probably short, period of time.

So, a young utility player from the Charlotte Stone Crabs named Omar Luna has joined the Bulls. I say “utility” since he’s seen time in left field, shortstop, second and third this year, although he seems to be mostly an infielder. Not stellar at the plate (1 for 18, .056). So obviously brought in for his defense. We may need that if anyone gets dinged today.

Carlos Hernandez is off to Hudson Valley, surely to return by his next turn in the rotation.

Tomorrow is the Bulls first day off of the season — 27 straight days of baseball. These kids work really, really hard.

Webworld: Stacy Long is doing a poll on who should get Rays minor league honors for April.

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