Game 143: Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays) 6; Norfolk Tides (Baltimore Orioles) 5 (12 Innings)
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun, Triangle Offense
Another great day for baseball at the DBAP and appropriately a nail-biter to end the season. The Bulls attendance pushed over 500,000 on the year which surely makes the front office happy (locally, both teams had good years, and a good Labor Day turnout).
In the stands we were expecting a swift-moving, swing-away sort of game. That’s pretty much what it was — only two walks were awarded on the day. It just went on much longer than we expected.
We were treated to a couple of very nice plays, especially in the rough 4th inning. Bases were loaded on Bulls pitcher Bobby Livingston when he awkwardly flipped a comebacker to catcher Kyle Holloway at home plate. Holloway made the play, saving a run. The bases were still loaded when the next batter singled home a run, but a perfect throw from Leslie Anderson in left to home caught the next runner and ended the inning.
As on the day prior, Omar Luna was a vacuum cleaner, this time at second base. Best of all, Mr. Luna got his first home run of the year (he only has four in his three-year professional career). A fitting exclamation point to a very fine year by this young ball player.
And then there was Paul Phillips. Most of the crowd would not have known that he was just arriving from Jacksonville, Florida where the Biscuits finished their season. And surely Phillips himself would not have expected to go out and spend six innings on the mound. But that’s what happened. His first inning, the 7th, was a bit (well, to be honest, a lot) shaky. And at the top of the 8th Tide (and former Bull) Ryan Hughes tied the game with a home run. After that Phillips did not let another man on base until the top of the 12th, and that guy got stranded. Very impressive performance.
Out in the West Division, Louisville won their last game and Columbus lost theirs, putting the Bats into the championship slot. That means that the Bulls will be playing the Bats in the first round of the playoffs in what has become a routine matchup of the best managers in Triple A baseball.
This should be an interesting series. The Bulls are actually in pretty good shape. We don’t know all that much about the reinforcements from Montgomery, but neither will the Bats. We’ve got some solid veterans — Chris Richard, Elliot Johnson, Justin Ruggiano, Joe Dillon, Angel Chavez, Fernando Perez. Just looking at that list gives me great confidence.