Sunday, May 8, 2011

Beautiful Extra-Inning Win, With Puzzles

Game 29: Durham Bulls 3; Syracuse Chiefs 1
Wrap, Box, Indy Week,Herald-Sun

Game 30: Durham Bulls 6; Syracuse Chiefs 5 (11 innings)
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun
Season: 18-12; Streak: 4-0

Justin Ruggiano had yet another amazing game Saturday night. In fact he sort of had to win it twice. In the 10th with the score tied 2-2, Ray Olmedo tried to score on Ruggiano's single to center field, but he was thrown out. So when Rugg came to bat in the 11th with the bases loaded and the score tied 5-5 [Ooops! Thanks, Chris D] Chiefs 5, Bulls 4, it was naturally assumed that he would hit in the winning runs — and he did with a single to center.

The win kept the Bulls two games in front of the Gwinnett Braves and its spectacular nature obscured a couple of oddities and issues that are worth mentioning.

What we witnessed for 6 innings was a superb scoreless pitchers' duel between the Bulls Alex Torres and the Chiefs Yuneska Maya. All of these games with the Chiefs have shown them to have a fine crowd of starting pitchers. But (who else) Justin Ruggiano broke the tie with a RBI double and Russ Canzler hit him in. That certainly looked good enough.

But then in a puzzling move, after J.P. Howell did his rehab inning, Chris Bootcheck came in, walked the Chief's #9 batter, and was pulled for Jake McGee. McGee got a ground out fielder's choice then gave up a home run that tied the game. My question is, why was Bootcheck pulled? He's just off the DL and did give up a walk, but something could have been wrong. And why McGee back-to-back? He pitched part of an inning on Friday and was back for this session.

Then there was the 11th. New guy Ryan Reid got a ground out and gave up a walk. R.J. Swindle came in to give up three runs with a homer, single, double and hit batter. Not good. In fact, this is not a good year for R.J. This was his first time on the mound since April 30th (2/3 inning). He's being hit hard. In 11 innings he has given up 5 home runs, 11 earned runs, 16 hits. His signature slow curve has disappeared. As a final peculiarity, after giving up 3 runs in the top of the 11th last night, when the Bulls came back with 4 in the bottom of the inning, Swindle got the win! Overall, I'm beginning to think that R.J. may not be long for the Bulls. That's too bad, because he was a key figure in last year's championship team.

We saw Felipe Lopez for the first time. He did a fine job at third base, where he was quite busy early in the game. On the other hand, he left Ruggiano hanging out in scoring position three different times.

Meanwhile, for Rays' futurists, the Montgomery Biscuits have been over in Zebulon and won one last night as well.

Our guys up with the Rays: Brandon Guyer did not get into the Rays' 8-2 win over Baltimore, but Brandon Gomes pitched a scoreless 9th (1 BB, 2 K's).

1 comment:

  1. Not to nitpick, but to add to Ruggiano's legend, it was actually 5-4 in the 11th, not 5-5. We weren't playing any more unless Justin comes through.

    And yeah, RJ is really broken. Sad to see...