Thursday, September 11, 2014

Game 2 to the Durham Bulls; Greatest Game of the Year?

Wrap, Box, Providence Journal, International League (video)

This should go down as one of the great games in Bulls history, certainly one of the greatest this season.

It started off, however, even worse than Tuesday’s loss when Alex Colome began the 1st inning by giving up a single and two walks to load the bases. Only one run scored, though. But then the leadoff batter in the 2nd inning hit a triple and that was followed by a home run. Colome did get a K, but then walked the next batter. That would be 3 hits (single, triple, and homer), 3 walks, 3 runs, on 54 pitches in 1⅓ innings. Jake Thompson came on and got the Bulls out of the inning stranding two runners.

That was the Bulls pitching story for the rest of the night. Durham relievers Thompson, Merrill Kelly, C.J. Riefenhauser, Josh Lueke, and Adam Liberatore dominated the Red Sox. They did let a few on base, but some heads up baseball kept any more runs from scoring.

Nevertheless, into the 9th inning the game was creepily similar to Tuesday. The Pawsox were still up by a run and Bulls were rarely even getting on base after Justin Christian singled in the 3rd and was brought home by Mikie Mahtook’s home run. In fact, until the 9th, Mahtook had the only RBIs of the Governors’ Cup series.

The fun (for Bulls fans) began in the 9th with Vince Belnome’s home run to tie the game. What a thrill to see him come through after all his struggles this year.

Both managers went into playoff mode. Wilson Betemit came in as a pinch-hitter, Pawtucket switched out pitchers, etc. But in the bottom of the 9th Josh Lueke, who’d come on in the 8th, managed to keep things under control. Lueke stayed on until after the first out of the 10th when Adam Liberatore came on.

So there we were in the 11th. Essentially out of pitchers (more about that later) and only six hits in the entire previous 10 innings. Vince Belnome drew a walk. Ali Solis gets on base on a catcher interference call (good call, you could see the dust come off the catcher’s mitt on TV). And Mike Fontenot singled Belnome home.

Adam Liberatore, who’s most difficult game this year only went 33 pitches, dug in and threw 44 in this outing to close things out and earn, really earn, the win.

But that’s the 2014 Bulls. Solid relief pitching, solid defense, and occasional clutch hits.

Outside the game —

  • About that 11th inning. The last man standing in the bullpen was Cory Burns, who’d pitched 2 innings on Tuesday. What about some of the other pitchers (e.g., Bryce Stowell or Andrew Bellatti) whom we saw around last week? Well, in their wisdom the Rays are bringing up Nathan Karns, but have not put him on their roster yet, so the Bulls could only use 24 of the 25 players allowed on their roster. Why would the Rays do that when they’ve got 40 spots available? No excuse, it seems to me. It’s cold comfort that the Boston Red Sox are treating their AAA team even worse. Take a look at the comments buried in the Providence Journal link above. 
  • Numbers: Believe it or not, the attendance numbers up in Providence at 3,600 for Tuesday and 4,100 for Wednesday (the last home game of the season for the Pawsox) are pretty good. Unlike the majors, minor league playoff baseball just doesn’t give the marketers enough time to sell the games. 
  • I’m worried about the weather. Tonight looks marginal. Tomorrow and the rest of the week looks very tricky. I have no idea what the rules are regarding this. If anyone does know, please chime in.


  1. A few years back, the Governor's Cup finals were finished in a double header. I assume they'll do everything they can to get the game in today. If they can't finish, I'd expect that the game would be resumed tomorrow and a 7 inning 4th game would be played. Basically they have to get in 1 complete game between today and tomorrow I'd assume. If they do that, then there's a lot of flexibility on Saturday even with the predicted rain because you basically have the whole day. No idea if it were to go beyond that.

  2. Makes sense to me. Also some more flexibility in terms of marketing as well since a few thousand is the best you can hope for under any circumstance.