Game 99: Durham Bulls (Rays) 5; Syracuse Chiefs (Nationals) 4
Season: 59-40; Home Stand: 3-2
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun
First off, we need to mention that the time for Sunday’s game has been changed from 5 o’clock to 7 o’clock. Why? The Heat!
I’m something of an agnostic on the issue of global warming; however, on the issue of local warming I think that I, and my fellow fans, are becoming expert. It’s hot out there! And if it’s hot in the stands, think about what it must be like on the field.
So let’s lift our glasses of iced tea (sweetened, of course, this is Nawth Car’lina after all) to the Bulls and the Chiefs. And if the Bulls broadcaster once again tells us how much cooler he is in the press box than we are in the stands, the fan who chunks a water balloon through his window will receive our gratitude.
How hot was it? By one measure (mine of course), the heat index at the start of the game was 108° — right warmish.
And yet the baseball was interesting enough to keep us outdoors. Brian Baker, this year’s pitching equivalent of a utility infielder, got another spot start. This time for Carlos Hernandez who is on the disabled list, again. Mr. Baker did a simply terrific job through 6 innings. He had a season-high eight strikeouts, walked two, and only gave up one run on two hits. Mr. Baker’s overall numbers (FIP, for example) are better than three of our starters, Phillips, Hernandez, and Vasquez. So, I guess we are looking to the Rays’ future, not the Bulls. However, I’m OK with that. I like watching him pitch and he’s winning games for us in a lot of different ways.
After Dan Johnson came to the plate in the 1st and, what else, whacked a ball over the fence, the game moved briskly along until the 8th inning, with the Bulls coming into the 8th ahead only 3-1, but looking very comfortable.
Joe Bateman had had a really ugly 7th, but got out of it with a strikeout. In the 8th, however, things did not improve and the first two batters walked. Dale Thayer came in and struck out his first batter, but gave up a three run homer, so Bulls are now behind 4-3. J. J. Furmaniak, playing second base, saved the day with a brilliant play to end the inning, a grand leaping catch and desperate throw to first. If he doesn’t make the play, the Chiefs score at least one more run.
In the 8th inning, it was the Chief’s pitchers turn to have problems. After striking out Desmond Jennings, the Chief’s Ron Villone walked Elliot Johnson, was caught out by a nifty bunt single by Justin Ruggiano, walked Dan Johnson to load the bases, then hit Dioner Navarro to force in the tying run. The Chiefs sent in Josh Wilkie to get a handle on things and he got two quick strikes on Joe Dillon. Not enough. He could not close the deal. Ten pitches later Dillon put a soft hit just over the shortstop’s glove and the go ahead run scored. Brilliant at bat. So much so that the fans didn’t even whimper when Jose Lobaton grounded into a double play to end the inning (well, most of the fans didn’t whimper).
The stage was set for Winston Abreu and he did his thing. Included were some late inning histrionics by Chiefs shortstop Pete Orr who got tossed from the game arguing a called third strike with umpire Damien Beal. As an aside, Beal really wasn’t sharp last night. I guess the heat affects us all. At any rate, a K, ground out, and another K and we could either stay for fireworks or head for air conditioning. I headed for air conditioning.
Alvin Colina is on the disabled list with a knee injury. More info after an MRI today. Omar Luna activated from DL. Seen last night nervously trying to warm up Winston Abreu.
And here’s an oddity. In an item datelined St. Petersburg, Florida, minor league baseball announced the Durham Athletic Park’s website. A bit odd, but here’s the site. Now you can get the t-shirt.