Thursday, September 12, 2013

Great Pitching; Aggressive Offense; Bulls Tie Series 1-1

Series: 1-1; Best of Five
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun, N&O, Pawtucket

This is how the Bulls have won games all year — exceptional pitching and exploitative offense. Make a mistake and these guys will kill you. And they did last night, the last game at the DBAP for 2013.

But first the pitching. J.D. Martin might have been missing his regular catcher, Chris Gimenez, but he and Craig Albernaz made one heck of a team through the first six innings. The IL’s best pitcher only allowed four hits and one run, although he had to leave the game with a no-decision. Martin is a seriously crafty guy that the PawSox found themselves unable to hit well all night. And then there were the two foul pops that Albernaz grabbed in the 6th to end Martin’s 104 pitch outing. And Albie's hard running to first that might have encouraged the PawSox's throwing error in the 7th.

Martin was followed by C.J. Riefenhauser who was absolutely in charge. He struck out the side in the 7th and had a 1-2-3 8th. Kirby Yates came on with a 2-1 lead and picked up his 3rd save of the playoffs (they’ve only played five games).

Meanwhile only two Bulls ever really touched the knuckleball of Pawtucket’s Steven Wright. Albernaz got a double in the 5th, but ended up stranded on third. Kevin Kiermaier got the other solid hit, a double in the 7th that scored Albernaz from second base. Video below of that key moment.

Of course, the Bulls weren’t the only ones who had trouble with the knuckleball. PawSox catcher Dan Butler had a few tough moments, including a passed ball that let Jason Bourgeois score the first run.

Both Bulls runs were unearned. But that’s what the Bulls do this year.

Nevertheless, these are two very well-matched and very good baseball teams. Pawtucket has a powerful middle of the order and for several weeks the core of the Bulls hitters (Belnome, Anderson, Duncan) have been cold, cold, cold. Have to guess that the next games will be more of the same.

Outside the game —
  • For reasons mysterious to me, today is a “travel day” for both teams. That’s the first time I’ve seen that in several years watching the International League. Just what kind of strings did the PawSox management have to pull to set up Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday games in Pawtucket?
  • 3,700 fans last night. Pretty good for a Wednesday and a playoff game. And they were, mostly, hard core Bulls fans. With a smattering of the Red Sox nation and I saw one Pawtucket Red Sox hat.
  • Curious about how catchers and pitchers work together? Take a look at Adam Sobsey’s interview with J.D. Martin and Chris Gimenez over at Bull City Summer.
  • Finally, was Nuke ever going to win a race? You’d think so. But when Annie body-blocked both Crash and Nuke and skipped to the finish, it was Crash who recovered first. Next year? Will there be a next year? We’ll have to see.

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