Friday, July 23, 2010

’Till September?

Game 98: Durham Bulls 4, Columbus Clippers 2
Season: 58-40; Home Stand: 2-2
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun, Indy Week

Columbus Clipper right-hander Josh Tomlin had a terrific five innings. In that time he faced just 21 batters, struck out nine, only walked two, and gave up three hits, all singles. But then came the 6th inning. By the end of it the Bulls had tied the game at two-all after a walk, double, and bases-clearing single.

On the other side of the scoresheet, Durham Bulls left-hander Heath Phillips was having one of his better outings. True, he gave up solo home runs in the 2nd and the 4th, but that’s what Mr. Phillips does. He’s given up 20 of them this year. Nevertheless, he was well into the 8th inning before he got into anything like serious trouble and that was only after a rare error by J.J. Furmaniak put runners on first and second with two outs. R.J. Swindle came in to solve that problem.

But let’s rewind to the Bulls half of the 7th, because that’s where they won the game. At that time the score was 2-2 and the Clipper’s right-hander Shane Lindsay was making his Triple-A debut. Fernando Perez drew a walk, but was out on a fielder’s choice that put J.J. Furmaniak on first. Elliot Johnson walked, putting men on first and second. Justin Ruggiano struck out (his third of the night) for the second out.

On the last pitch of Ruggiano's at bat, Montoyo called the key play of the game, a double steal. And it worked, with J.J. Furmaniak ending up on third and Elliot Johnson on second. You have to wonder at the Clippers decision to then pitch to Dan Johnson. But they did, and Mr. Johnson did what he does so well, hitting a line drive that just blew between the center and right fielders to the wall. Two runs scored. Between them Mr. Phillips and Mr. Swindle, who picked up three more K’s in the 9th, finished things off.

Unfortunately, we could have some serious people problems in tonight’s lineup.

In the 6th inning Desmond Jennings (who was getting a day off) pinch hit for Angel Chavez. Jennings had a key double that got the Bulls back into the game. But our concern is why Chavez came out of the game. Reports are that the problem is his shoulder. We are hoping that the problem is short-lived. Jennings stayed in the game, going to left field, while Dan Johnson, who started in left, came in to cover third.

Also in the 6th inning, Alvin Colina, batting as the designated hitter with one out and Jose Lobaton on first, hit a grounder to third. He really pushed himself to get to first to prevent the double play, and succeeded when the throw got past the first baseman. But that’s when things went very wrong. Just past first base Colina fell to the ground, curled up, and was still for quite a while as trainers and others hovered over him. The Clipper first baseman picked up the ball, tagged the curled up Colina, and trotted off the field with the rest of the team, to a chorus of boos. Broadcaster Solondz said he was puzzled at the boos. Well, it had to do with essentially kicking a guy while he’s down. Colina had to be helped off the field and was in obvious pain (ankle, knee?). So, at a guess he may be out for a while. Dioner Navarro took his place in the lineup for the rest of the evening. Joe Dillon put on catcher’s gear to warm up, briefly, Darin Downs, and then R.J. Swindle.

So, if Dillon stays out (he’s had some kind of illness), Chavez is out, and Colina is out, we have precisely nine batters/ballplayers to put in the lineup tonight. Do we have a pitcher who can actually play baseball? And bat? We just might have to find out.

Looking to September, if the Bulls win the South Division and Columbus wins the West Division the Clippers will be back in the DBAP on 10th of September for the third game of the Governors’ Cup playoffs. Really, really want to see that game. The team will likely be quite different. Nevertheless, we are 4-4 so far this year, so what could be a better match up than to extend the series into Cup competition?

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