Norfolk Tides 17, Durham Bulls 2
Season: 48-40; Last 10: 5-5
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun
From time to time Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo will throw a pitcher(s) under the bus, let one twist in the breeze, hang one out to dry, etc. Pick your metaphor. You get the idea. I've never quite figured out the rationale behind it, except to note that they are never prospects. The pitcher, of course, has little choice but to suck it up, with the exception of a memorable moment some years ago when the pitcher got thrown out of the game for hitting a batter.
Last night we had an example. As I was getting out of my car they were pulling the tarp on to the field. After a half-hour or so they pulled the tarp off the field. We then suffered through an execrable rendition of the National Anthem before Brian Baker began to throw. He looked awkward from his first moment. Norfolk's lead off batter, center fielder Matt Angle, who has been giving the Bulls fits all through this series, got a walk, stole a base, moved to third on a ground out, and scored on a sac fly. The 2nd inning began with another walk, then a home run, and after two outs were recorded, Angle got on base on an error and stole second base again. He didn't score, however. The Tides put across two more runs in the 3rd inning. By this time 17 batters had come to the plate and Baker had given up 5 runs on 3 hits, 3 walks, and 1 error.
With JJ Furmaniak at bat in the bottom of the 3rd, a nearby lightning strike brought out the tarp. When this happens you can be sure that the delay will be the duration of the rainstorm plus 30-45 minutes to pull the tarp and prep the field. I closed up my scorebook, packed my bag to leave, and turned to say goodbye to the usuals around me. They'd already gone. Smart folks.
I was home and had the TV on before the tarp came off the field. JJ came back up to the plate and a new Norfolk pitcher was on the mound. The Bulls didn't do much.
But here's where my lead comes in, Brian Baker was still in the game. This after an crummy three innings before the rain when he's already given up five runs. By the time he finally did leave the game in the 5th, after 104 pitches to 24 batters, the Bulls were down 7-0.
Remember the adage, be careful what you wish for? That also played a part in this game. Yesterday I made a plea for Craig Albernaz to get some playing time while he had a place of the Bulls roster. I was very happy to see him behind the plate in the 6th even if Mike Ekstrom was having trouble and gave up two more runs (that's 9-0).
Rob Delaney came in and got through the 8th and the Bulls avoided the skunk by getting two runs in the bottom of the inning on two singles and a Dan Johnson double.
In another move that made little sense to me, Montoyo put Albernaz on the mound to pitch the 9th inning. Why Delaney couldn't go another inning I don't know. It did take him a bunch of pitches to get through the 8th (26 of them), but why not give him a shot? At a guess it was something of a cruel bit of humor. In the event, it was awful, awful, awful. Not helped by two errors that would have ended the inning much earlier, Albernaz gave up 8 runs (only 3 earned) on three homers and a bunch of base hits.
As if to twist the knife, here's what Montoyo had to say about Baker after the game (as reported in the Herald-Sun):
"He needs to locate better," Montoyo said. "He didn't pitch well, and he paid for it."
Talk about tough love.
Well, no baseball at the DBAP for the next thirteen days. Have I mentioned that the 2011 schedule is absurd?
Two games in Norfolk (Charlie Montoyo will be off coaching in the Futures Game). Then there's the Triple A All-Star game on July 13th. Brandon Guyer and Russ Canzler are on the team. So is Desmond Jennings, but he won't be making the trip because of his "contusion" (that's a bruise to us less formal folks) to his finger.