Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun
Season: 55-58; Home Stand: 3-5
This was possibly the best all-around Bulls game of the year. The run differential of 9 runs was, by a couple of runs, the biggest of the year. The 16 hits and 8 walks were part of a team OPS of 1.064, 300 points above the IL average of .717. Matt Moore and 3 relievers held the Bats to just 3 hits, 2 walks, and 1 run with 11 K’s.
It was a rainy night in Durham. I watched on TV and noticed all the fans huddled under their umbrellas. Ground balls in the outfield spun up rooster-tails as they ran over the grass. One long ball to the right field wall didn’t bounce, it just died on the warning track. Several times the grounds crew was out with Diamond-Dry for the mound and batter’s box (trivia question of the day: What is Diamond-Dry made from?). Batters were constantly wiping their bats down between pitches (How could that possibly do any good, I thought. Maybe?)
Every Bull got a hit, except for Hak-Ju Lee. However, Lee got an RBI on a bases-loaded walk in the the 1st inning. Mikie Mahtook is back and batted leadoff. He started with a single and followed up with a 3-run homer in the 6th. He looked more comfortable at the plate than I’ve seen him all year. New guy Joey Rickard is making the most of his time in AAA. He was 4 for 6 and is hitting .444 so far. Taylor Motter was 4 for 5 in one of his best games of the year. Luke Maile got back up above the Mendoza Line.
Meanwhile, the newest Bull is Rays star left-hander Matt Moore. He has been sent down to sort out his recovery from surgery and, after some real troubles with the Rays last month, he gave the Bats a tutorial on big league pitching. He may not yet be back to his best fastball, but his off-speed stuff was nasty. Indeed, he had four perfect innings before a couple of singles got through in the 5th. The rest of the inning was ground outs (with one walk), but a run got across. The 6th was 3 up, 3 drown.
He was followed by Andrew Bellatti, not seen for quite a while. He K’d the side. Then Bradin Hagens for his first appearance as a reliever in this trip to AAA. He gave up a single before getting the next three batter out. José Dominguez walked one, but he was double up and a ground out finished the game.
Bulls-Bats games over the years have often been fun to watch. The Reds have a good system and, usually, manage their guys well.