Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday at the Park with the Bulls

Games 133 & 134, Sunday, August 28, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Durham Bulls 4, Charlotte Knights 3 (8 innings)
Durham Bulls 3, Charlotte Knights 0 (7 innings)

Season: 77-57; Home Stand: 3-4; Home Games Remaining: 2
Wrap, Box (133), Box (134), Herald-Sun, Indy Week

The sky was a brilliant blue. Inside the park all evidence of the storm was gone. With the win on Saturday the Bulls seemed to be themselves again. If there was a wisp of a cloud on the horizon it came in the 2nd when Matt Moore gave up a rare walk. He would end up giving up four of them during his six innings, adding to the worrisome 36 issued by Bulls pitching since this home stand began.

When Moore left after six innings, the Bulls were down 3 to 1. But a Ray Olmedo single and a Justin Ruggiano home run in the bottom of the 6th set things right. J.J. Furmaniak came in to run for Dan Johnson in the 7th, but that tactical move of Charlie Montoyo's didn't pay off ... then. The payoff came in the extra-inning 8th when the game was still tied and Brandon Guyer was on third after a triple. Justin Ruggiano drew a walk. J.J., the Bulls best bunter, came to bat with one out. Guyer was off on Furmaniak's hard bunt past the pitcher in the direction of the second baseman. He was past the Charlotte catcher and the game was won.

Interlude watching the grounds crew put things right. Diligent restoration of both sides of the batter's box. Refilling of the holes dug by pitchers out on the mound. Brushing and smoothing and redrawing the lines. After 10 minutes the eye is treated to a fresh baseball field just waiting for new teams to emerge from the dugouts.

First there was the presentation of this year's Goodmon Awards: Team Spirit — Ray Olmedo; Pitcher — Rob Delaney; Community Service/Fan Favorite — Russ Canzler. Great choices, congratulations, well-done Ray, Rob, and Russ.

The Bulls came on the field and we got to watch a superb performance by Matt Torra. Mr. Torra has quietly established himself as a key Bulls pitcher. His ERA has been steadily declining since his not very auspicious arrival in early July. He has won four out of his last five starts. By my little "efficiency" measure (pitches per out), he is the most efficient pitcher on the team. He only needed 69 pitches to get through six innings last night (Moore threw 99). You could make the argument that he should have stayed in for the 7th since Delaney made things a bit more exciting than they needed to be with a one out walk followed by a single. But he did close things down, he got a save, and the Bulls had their shutout.

Brandon Guyer led of the game with a home run over the Monster. In the 3rd Guyer singled, stole second, went to third on a Stephen Vogt fly ball, and came home on a Dan Johnson single. A Russ Canzler double was enough to bring Johnson all the way around — although I'd have to say that Charlie Montoyo's arms windmilling to send D.J. home were moving faster than Dan's feet. That was enough.

Out on the web these two curious entries from Dirk Hayhurst, last seen leaning on the dugout railing. The first complains about Durham drivers (not very good, that's a surprise?) and the second is an odd little piece reflecting on expectations of a professional athlete. He seems to think that fans will be disappointed that he doesn't play for the "love of the game." As far as I can tell, that isn't the average fan's expectation, certainly not today. Must be something about the folks he encounters out there in the bullpen.


  1. Dirk needs to take a drive up in Boston

  2. Hayhurst just released (from his twitter posts). Sad to see him go.

  3. Agree. Really wanted to see him get back on the mound. Nothing showing anywhere else yet. Rumors about September callups starting in St. Pete Times, though.

    Among all that I don't understand about baseball, add to it just how injury/health issues are handled. Maybe Dirk will add it to his next book.

  4. Kinda grumpy about tonight's game, but maybe I'll feel better about it when I start writing tomorrow. This home stand has been a mess. Rugg, in spite of his home run, isn't helping as far as I can tell. Couple of plays this Spring's Ruggiano would have made he didn't tonight ... at least that's how it looked to me. And why can't he pull his stockings up like everyone else? Be part of the team?

  5. Speculation that Dirk was released so he can find another team that might call him up.

    I fear Sept. callups sink this team. I could see the following going up:
    Dan Johnson (although he's not on the 40 man, so who knows)
    Justin Ruggiano
    Mike Ekstrom
    Rob Delaney
    Andy Sonnanstine (especially if they decide to sit Hellickson)

    I figure Guyer, Beckham, Moore stay down because they can get regular work in the playoffs (if we make it) and they're prospects. But the group above aren't going to be on Tampa next year, so may as well use them up now.