Friday, May 6, 2011

9th Inning Thrills

Game 28: Durham Bulls (Rays) 4; Syracuse Chiefs (Nationals) 3
Season: 16-12; Streak: 2-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Ballgames in May at the DBAP can be miserable. Last night it was cold. I kept adding layers and fortunately the wind wasn’t blowing. Still, the stands were getting empty by the bottom of the 8th.

Up until then, the evening’s story was Syracuse’s pitcher Tom Milone, who was giving a clinic on careful, precision pitching. His 11 K’s were the most of any single pitcher against the Bulls this year. Meanwhile the Bulls’ Edgar Gonzalez, who is emerging as the key man of the Bulls rotation, kept things in check for a solid six innings.

J.P. Howell got in one inning. He is reportedly on a 1-inning, 25-pitch, whichever comes first, limitation. After giving up a walk, he did just fine, especially his pickoff of a Chief runner on 2nd base. Last seen in Durham in 2007, Howell is working his way back after missing 2010 recuperating from surgery.

Milone finally left the game after 7 brilliant innings and Chiefs reliever Adam Carr gave up a double to Desmond Jennings and zinged a couple of inside pitches before Justin Ruggiano really crushed one to deep center field. Ruggiano is up to 22 RBIs now. That homer, with Jennings on base, tied the game.

If you were among the few left, you got to see a really thrilling walk off bottom of the 9th. Walk, pinch runner, sac bunt, broken bat popup up over the pitcher but at shortstop’s feet put runners on first and third, and Jennings’ single won the game. Video on Bulls’ website pretty well sums it up.

* * * * *

But there was more than just a game going on last night.

  • Dane De La Rosa is on a four-game suspension for his part in the exchange of inside pitches up in Indianapolis the other day. The pitcher who initiated the exchange, Rudy Owens, only got three days. Owens is a starter, so he is essentially unpunished. De La Rosa is a reliever, so the Bulls will miss him for a couple more days.
  • Felípe López, who probably exemplifies the term “veteran infielder”, should be in Durham today. Lopez started the year on the Bulls roster, but was called up to the Rays before the Bulls season started when Even Longoria went on the disabled list. To be honest, I’m surprised he made it through waivers, but here he is. He hasn't played minor league ball since 2004. That makes him look a bit like this year's Hank Blalock. I think he’s going to give Russ Canzler a run for his money when it comes to playing time at third, but there’s going to be so much shuffling the next couple of days it’s hard to tell. Stats here and here.
  • Outfielder Brandon Guyer got called up to Tampa Bay last night and is off to Baltimore. Why? That should become clear later in the day with the Rays also in a bit of lineup turmoil. My guess is that the Rays think that B.J. Upton is about to be suspended after a spectacular balls and strikes rant/tossed from the game episode the other night. Why not Jennings? Because it could be just a sit on the bench visit. The Rays have other outfielders, but they want to keep their roster full.
  • What does it all mean for the Bulls? Not too much. Chris Carter or Leslie Anderson in the outfield. Canzler on first, probably. Or Canzler DHing. Guyer’s been hot, though, we’re going to miss that.
  • If Upton is suspended, the possibility still exists for the Rays to pull a pitcher from the Bulls, because their Jeff Neimann just went on the DL.


  1. Lordy, I hope Canzler does better on first than he did on third last night. He missed some crucial opportunities. Very disappointing performance.

  2. I have to say, I was wishing that someone would have claimed Felipe Lopez when the Rays demoted him. He has the skills to help the Bulls on the field, but he isn't a guy that I like being in our locker room. He seems to wear out his welcome where ever he goes, but hopefully we can avoid major issues here.

  3. Shouldn't the season record be 18-12? Or am I hallucinating again?


  4. Well, it is now — but this entry was two days ago! Just got up post for last two days. Watched Friday from home, on HD TV, but didn't have anything interesting to say about the game.