Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thrills and a Win

Game 136, Tuesday, August 30, DBAP
Durham Bulls 4, Gwinnett Braves 3
Season: 78-58; Home Stand: 4-5; Games Left in Season: 6
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun, Examiner

Let's jump right to the thrills.

8th inning. Score tied 3-3. Right-hander Anthony Varvaro came in as the third Gwinnett pitcher of the night. Tim Beckham led off with his third hit, a double to right. Brandon Guyer sacrificed Beckham to third base. Justin Ruggiano struck out. Two outs. Gwinnett decided to give an intentional walk to the 2010 International League MVP, lefty Dan Johnson, who had had two singles (one RBI) and a long flyout so far in the evening. That brought up the 2011 International League MVP, righty Russ Canzler who had had a terrible night, three strikeouts. Canzler took a strike, looked at a ball, hit a foul. 1-2, two out. Single to right! Beckham scored. Johnson was thrown out trying to reach third, but the Bulls were ahead 4-3.

Rob Delaney came on for the 9th. The first Brave hit a foul ball deep to the left side of the outfield, but Canzler chased it down for the first out. Wilkin Ramirez singled. After a called strike to catcher J.C. Boscan, Gwinnett called a hit and run. Ramirez took off as Boscan slapped a low line drive to right. Matt Carson made a diving catch with Ramirez almost to third base. He tossed the ball to Dan Johnson at first. Double play. Game over. The Bulls are 3 1/2 games ahead of Gwinnett in the south.

How did the Bulls get to the 8th tied 3-3? To be honest, it was pretty ugly. Reliever Lance Cormier, not my favorite Bulls pitcher in any circumstance, got thrown into the breach when once again the Bulls can't find a fifth starter. Not sure what happened to Brian Baker or Andy Sonnanstine (maybe the double header messed with Sonnanstine's schedule), but we've all read about Dirk Hayhurst's release by now. Cormier started out with a walk and that runner scored soon after. The redeeming feature of the inning was the two K's with bases loaded to end the inning. The leadoff batter in the 2nd inning got a double and scored and that was it for Cormier, the first of five Bulls pitchers.

Jay Buente had three solid innings to get the Bulls to the 6th. In the meantime the Bulls scored in the first, and picked up two more in the 3rd. But Adam Russell had an ugly 6th (that could have been worse) that let another run in. The Bulls, on the other hand, went from the 4th through the 7th with just one hit.

So, a lot of ups and downs until the sustained thrills of the bottom of the 8th and the top of the 9th.

* * * * *

This was the last home game of the regular season. The Bulls are headed for Charlotte for two games, then over to Norfolk for four games. During that time the South Division championship will surely be decided, along with, very likely, a bunch of roster changes.

But let's savor the fireworks and the win. This was a big one.

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