Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pretty Night, Pretty Game

Wool E. Bull helps the Army celebrate its birthday

Jeff Neimann, back in town for a brief visit, warms up

Game 65, June 14, DBAP
Durham Bulls 1, Norfolk Tides 0
Season: 35-30; Home Stand: 2-2; Streak: W2
Wrap, Box, Herald-SunIndy Week

There was a lot to like about Tuesday night’s game. Jeff Niemann’s pitching in his rehab start was good enough, even if he did let six runners on base over the five innings he pitched. Nevertheless, no runs were scored and he left probably thinking that he was on his way back to St. Petersburg. No reason not to, I’d guess. And, to be honest, I’d rather have Alex Cobb back.

What I really liked, though, was Brandon Guyer showing off his speed again. That was mentioned yesterday and when he was given a chance in the 4th inning he put on another show. With two outs, the otherwise brilliant Tides pitcher, Mitch Atkins, hit Guyer, who became the first Bulls baserunner of the game. Guyer stole second and then his speed was enough to get him home on a Dan Johnson single (the first Bulls hit of the game) to the DBAP’s shallow left field. That was enough to win it for the Bulls.

Also very likable were the two double plays, always welcome.

Then there was Charlie Montoyo playing around with his bullpen. When Niemann hit his pitch count in the 5th, R.J. Swindle came in for two batters, one to finish the 5th, another to start the 6th. Then Dane De La Rosa saw four more to get through the 7th. Brandon Gomes came in (second night in a row) for the 8th to strike out the side. Jake McGee, also doing a two-in-a-row thing, came on in the 9th and, in a replay of Monday night, gave up two singles to put runners on first and second (on Monday the runners reached on errors). Catcher Jose Lobaton then made what had to be the key play of the game by pouncing on a bunt attempt and throwing out the runner trying to advance from second to third. Dan Johnson was playing third base last night and he did his first baseman thing by stretching for the throw. Very, very pretty. McGee then proceeded to strike out the next two batters. Game over.

The Bulls have a day off before heading to Gwinnett. That will be interesting. The Braves caught up with the Bulls for the lead of the South Division last Thursday and the two teams have been tied for first ever since.

Can’t let this series go by without mentioning how much fun it was to listen to Scott Pose work with Neil Solondz in the broadcast booth. For those who don’t know, Pose has a lot of experience as a professional ballplayer with some time in the majors and several years in AAA as an outfielder. He knows the game. More important, he can talk about it and help listeners see the game. Even more important, he is an alum of the University of Arkansas, as am I, which of course does not influence these comments in the least.


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