Season: 39-27; Trip: 4-1
With last night’s win the Durham Bulls went 12 games above .500, the best so far this year. Mid-season is only 6 games away (AAA only plays 144 games) and we have to say that the team’s record is terrific.
One reason is that they are getting good pitching from odd places. Last night reliever Jordan Norberto got his second start in a row and lasted even longer than last time. He essentially set the stage for Jim Miller, who got a win even though his stint was not impressive. Then the new guys, Robert Zarate and Kyle Winkler, pitched one inning each of shut out ball and semi-new guy Preston Guilmet (he seems to spend a lot of time on the Rays-Bulls shuttle) got his second save.
Another reason is youngster Richie Shaffer is just pounding the ball. I saw his shot last night and he just crushed a ball in that oddly shaped stadium. At the DBAP it might have gone over the Bull.
Maybe, just maybe, Alan Dykstra is coming out of his season-long slump. He was 3 for 4 last night and made his way above the Mendoza Line to .210. And there’s Cory Brown, who was named the International League Hitter of the Week yesterday. He had a very timely triple in the 6th that won the game for the Bulls.
For oddity, how about this? The home plate umpire threw out three Indians last night, all for grousing about balls and strikes. First it was hitting coach Butch Wynegar in the 3rd. Then in the 9th it was catcher Tony Sanchez, followed by manager Dean Treanor. The Bulls have seen a lot of this particular umpiring crew, 16 games this season. Last night it was a four-man version. It strikes me as particularly stupid for a catcher to argue balls and strikes on the first game of a three-game series.
- Two Bulls pitchers had Jun 15th opt-out clauses in their contracts: Matt Buschmann and Ronald Belisario. Just what circumstances were involved in the clauses aren’t clear (typically assignment to the 25-man active squad). Nevertheless, according to Broadcaster Patrick Kinas, both have exercised their options. That means the Rays have 48 hours to do some kind of deal or both players are gone. No matter what happens, it would seem that neither player will be back in a Bulls uniform. Also according to Kinas, both players were still with the team last night as they wait for decisions down in St. Petersburg.
- Too bad for the Bulls. Buschmann was the front end and Belisario was the back end of quite a few Bulls wins this year. Belisario is probably the best closer in the International League and Buschmann, while he’s never made it to the major leagues, is certainly an above average pitcher.
- Meanwhile, catcher Bobby Wilson, the Rays backup catcher all this year, has accepted an assignment to the Bulls and should show up in a couple of days. That could add a lot of experience and depth to the team. Stats.
- And then there’s Grady Sizemore, who was signed yesterday by the Rays. He’ll probably show up with the Bulls after spending some time with the Stone Crabs. Not sure about that one. Stats.
- Additional commentary here and here,