Saturday, April 16, 2011

Jennings Breaks Out

Durham Bulls 8; Norfolk Tides 3
Season: 6-3; Streak: Won 4
Wrap, Box, Indy Week, Herald-Sun

Desmond Jennings is really looking good this year. Last night he got on base three out of four times (two walks, a hit by pitch, and a home run), scored two runs, and had 3 RBIs. You can’t ask for more from your leadoff batter. Oh yeah, he stole a base, too. On the year he is .345/.500/.586 with 2 home runs and 3 stolen bases. This is the first time in quite a while that the Bulls have had an exceptional leadoff man. Terrific fun to watch.

I was looking forward to watching Edgar Gonzalez pitch because he seems to be an interesting guy. Nothing special about his stats, so why is he here? Perhaps the two adjectives I'd use for last night would be sneaky and stubborn. He let a few guys on base, struck several out, and at the end of 5 innings nobody had scored. Not bad.

Later in the game Charlie Montoyo did something he rarely does, a situational pitching change. He’s never been much of a situational guy when it comes to using his relievers. However, in the 7th with two outs, a runner on first base, and a very familiar left-handed power hitter coming to bat (Ryan Hughes, a former Bull, now with Norfolk), he brought in our only lefty, R.J. Swindle. Swindle got Hughes to pop up on his second pitch. That was Swindle’s night — two pitches, one out, head for showers. I’m not criticizing the move, just noting that, in general, Charlie doesn’t seem to worry too much about reliever/batter matchups, but last night that’s what he did.

Speaking of pitching, and I know it’s early in the season, but the Bulls staff is really whiffing the opposition. In 9 games (84 innings) they’ve accumulated 94 strikeouts. Ten last night, fifteen the night before.

The rest of the position players:

Robinson Chirinos, catcher, batted 4th: tGt (see yesterday’s post). Comes to the Bulls with huge expectations both as a catcher and as a hitter. Off to a truly awful start (1 for 28), but undoubtedly has plenty of talent.
J.J. Furmaniak, infielder, batted 8th: We thought a lot of J.J. last year and we’re really happy to see him back. However, he is also off to a really rough start (2 for 28). He did get an infield hit last night and scored one of the Bulls’ runs.
Craig Albernaz, catcher: Has not gone to bat yet. Essentially a backup catcher who has spent time with the Bulls the last two seasons. However, most of his playing time has been with the Biscuits in Montgomery.


  1. The Chirinos situation is interesting. Clearly he has a lot of talent and had a great spring. We are getting to the point where we have to say that this slump is more than just due to the ups and downs of baseball. I wonder if all of the talk in the spring about him making the Rays got in his head a little. It will be nice when he gets things going.

  2. I wonder if the Swindle thing is because Tampa is looking for a lefty specialist.

  3. That's what Sobsey over at Indy Week seems to think. I'm about to do a rant one of these days about how the Rays have mistreated Jake McGee. So swapping out Swindle might make sense. Haven't followed the Rays closely enough to see if they really need him.

  4. Although they have generally done well this year, I think the overall feeling is that the Rays need anyone they can get in their bullpen. That said, McGee seems to be the only one off to a really bad start up there.

  5. I guess my concern is that the Rays are usually very, very smart in how they handle their young pitchers. Yet here McGee is with only a few innings in AAA, which were his first innings as a reliever. And now he's in the bigs. Think that he would have been better served here with the Bulls. And I think that's still going to happen. Have to think that Delaney, Wade, or Bootcheck are waiting to go back. Only Delaney on the 40-man though. And someone has to go when Howell comes off the DL. Maybe McGee.