Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of a Beautiful Run

Game 131: Durham Bulls ; Norfolk Tides 6
Season: 83-48; Home Games Remaining: 8
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun, Triangle Offense

Well, all good things have to come to and end and the Bulls run against the Tides of six in a row came to an end last night.

Two of the new guys, Ramon Ortiz and Brian Shouse, made their first 2010 appearance with the Bulls at the DBAP. Mike Ekstrom was back from the Rays. The weather was not brutally hot.

But you have to think that the Bulls are really, really tired of playing this Norfolk team — seven games in a row! And three more next week! What could be worse? Well, maybe next year when the Bulls start the season with six away games (against Gwinnett and Charlotte) and finish the season with six away games (against Charlotte and Norfolk). Have to wonder if the Bulls front office gets any input into the schedule. Surely they don’t agree with something as stupid as the last couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, back at the game, new guy Ramon Ortiz had a nifty six pitch first inning, but things got ugly in the second — single, single, single, grand slam. “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?” Not bad. One run on a walk and a double in the next inning. Pretty clean through the 6th.

Mike Ekstrom came on in the 7th who was, in the immortal words of Bulls broadcaster Neil Solondz, “Perhaps a little bit inconsistent.” Walk, single, single (run scored), K, single, K, K. So he escaped a base-loaded situation and was actually looking a lot better at the end of it all.

Dioner Navarro’s two perfect throws to catch runners in the 6th inning (well, maybe Chavez’ tag of Davis was a bit late) brought him to my attention as I begin to speculate about what the Bulls will look like next week. Surely Navarro is a prime candidate to return to the Rays come September 1. For a lot of reasons.
  • He’s doing quite well these days: wOBA .371.
  • His average/OBP/Slugging is .288/.393/.400.
  • At 34%, his pegs to catch baserunners is running slightly above his major league average of 30%.
  • Yesterday Rays catcher John Jaso put in some time at first base (as well as catching) which, unless it was another instance of Maddon being quirky for the sake of being quirky, implies that the Rays wouldn’t mind having another catcher around.
How important is Navarro to the Bulls? That depends on how badly Jose Lobaton hurt himself in Norfolk a couple of days ago. I didn’t watch all that closely while he was warming up pitchers last night, but he was out there. So have to guess that he’s OK.

Craig Albernaz, one of my all-time favorite Bulls who only has one game with us this year, is down in Montgomery and, I assume, available for a call up. So we would probably be OK, although hard to tell how much our pitchers might miss the more experienced Navarro.

Which brings to mind seeing Michel Hernandez chatting with guys in our dugout on his way to the coach’s box last night. Sure liked watching him play for us and the Rays last year. Wonder if he might be available for our playoff run?

Lastly, I learned a new phrase last night, "sports turf manager". That means the guy who takes care of the field, in our case, Scott Strickland, who was recognized as being the best in the International League last night. Good work, Scott.


  1. Hats off to that Turf management guy

    Any game you go to hes always on the move working
    the grounds

    Surprised he doesn't have a head of grey hair...LOL

  2. In my opinion Dioner Navarro would be a real loss for the Bulls. Sorry I don't share your enthusiasm for Craig Albernaz. Every time I watch Navarro play I learn something new that a major league catcher should do. For example at Tuesday night's game there was a play at first. I forget the details, but basically a hit to third, throw from third to first for the out. Before I could even follow the throw from third, Navarro was there on the warning track backing up the first baseman. Dioner Navarro is a professional all the way.

  3. Hmmm. I see that I have yet again failed to make myself very clear. I got so focused on my judgment that Navarro would be leaving us that I did not comment on just how important he has been to the Bulls. Agree that he has been huge help to the Bulls and that, as much as I like Albernaz, Navarro is a much better catcher and hitter than Albie. I’d never seen Navarro at work (except a couple of times on TV) before he came here. He positions himself well and seems to work the pitchers well. (Loved the moment in last home stand when he popped out of his crouch and went out to talk to Jake McGee after McGee had shook off a couple of signs. Sure would have liked to have been in on that conversation.) Has a terrific and accurate arm.

    I’m just betting that he will be gone sometime next week.