Monday, April 28, 2014

Pretty Sunday


Season: 17-8; Home Stand:2-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun, SWB RailRiders

An interesting game, but let’s lead off with the quirky stuff (with thanks to broadcaster Kinas for mentioning it).

Last Sunday, April 20th, reliever C.J. Riefenhauser was wearing a Tampa Bay Rays uniform. In the 12th inning of a game against the New York Yankees he was called in for just his second appearance as a major leaguer with a runner on first and no outs. A little bit later there are runners on first and third with two outs and he was instructed to walk the batter (Jacoby Ellsbury) in order to get to left-handed, weak hitting shortstop Dean Anna. Riefenhauser walked Anna on a disputed call at 3-2 and the run that came in turned to be the winning run. Rays manager Joe Maddon had lots to say about the call(s).

Fast forward to last night, top of the 8th inning, the Bulls have just gone ahead 5-4. Mr. Riefenhauser, now wearing a Durham Bulls uniform, is on the mound and the leadoff batter is … shortstop Dean Anna, now wearing a RailRiders uniform. Anna pops up to 3B Cole Figueroa, the next two batters line out to left field, the Bulls score an insurance run in the bottom of the inning, Kirby Yates does his thing, and C.J. Riefenhauser has his first win of the year. Gotta love Triple A baseball.

Now, what about the rest of the game?

Merrill Kelly gave up two home runs and Bulls pitchers hit a season high number of opposing batters (3), and yet Jerry Sands and company kept the runs coming across until Sands’ last hit, a single in the 8th created an insurmountable lead.

If that’s a clue regarding how much we are coming to admire Mr. Sands, it should be. He is having a career year with the Bulls. The fact that he is a local lad (Clayton) and out of Catawba College in Salisbury just adds to his stature. His swing has been a beauty to watch, but last night what was most impressive was his bat handling. Of course there was the home run in the 2nd inning. But what about the two opposite field RBIs: A sacrifice fly in the 5th and a single in the 8th? Now that was professional hitting.

Last night was the first time I’ve been able to watch Hak-Ju Lee on the field since his return. He made several nice plays, including participating in a twisting 1-6-3 double play. At bat he has a long way to go, but he did draw a couple of walks.

Yet another oddity of last night was seeing Ray Olmedo out in left field. It’s not that he doesn’t have any experience there. But it’s been a while, 2 games in 2012 and another few games in 2010 (this is a guy who has 1425 professional minor league games under his belt). Kevin Kiermaier is reportedly day-to-day with a hamstring concern and I’m guessing it was Mickie Mahtook’s time to have a day off.

Outside the game —




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