Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bulls Win; Pitchers at Bat

Game 108, July 30, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Louisville Bats (Reds): 5
Durham Bulls (Rays): 6
11 innings
Season: 50-58; Home Stand: 5-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Gamboa 58; Season Avg 53 (9 starts, 37.1 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .295; Season .301; Diff -.006

The end-of-game, bottom of the 11th, heroics began with Johnny Field's one out double and Eury Perez's ground-out that moved Fields to 3B. Then, when asked to intentionally walk Jake Hager, Louisville's Kevin Shackelford simply came unraveled. He nearly threw away the ball a couple of times. After that, he walked pinch-hitter Hank Conger (Conger pinch-hitting? More later), bringing Taylor Motter to bat with the bases loaded. I thought Motter was going to wait Shackelford out and he did watch the first pitch for a ball. But the next one he connected for a sharp hit to left field that brought in the winning run.

However, for baseball fans, the fascination with this game was the extreme oddity of 8 different players in the #2 spot in the batting order! That is very likely a first in Durham Bulls history. It all hinged on how the designated hitter rule works.

The game began with Jaff Decker, Jake Goebbert, and Hank Conger on the bench. In the 3rd inning, in his second at-bat, Daniel Robertson, the starting third baseman, drew a walk. He got spiked by the first baseman during a fouled-up pick-off throw. He went to 2B, but had to leave the game. Jaff Decker came in as a pinch runner (#2 player in that spot). Manager Jared Sandberg decided to "burn the DH". That is, to use Richie Shaffer, who'd started as the DH, at third base. In turn, that meant that the pitcher was required to bat in the #2 spot or be replaced with a pinch hitter. So, pitcher Eddie Gamboa moved into #2 spot in the batting order. In the 5th inning Gamboa, for the first time in his professional career, came to bat. You have to wonder if he even had a batting helmet or a bat. To great wonder and excitement, he got an infield single, moved to second base on a wild pitch, and scored on a J.P. Arencibia double, executing a nice slide across home plate. In the 7th inning, relief pitcher Dana Eveland moved into the slot. Eveland has time with two National League clubs. In 13 years in baseball, he'd had quite a few plate appearances, but none since 2014. He drew a walk, but never got past first base. The fifth player in the #2 slot was pitcher Ryan Stanek.
When he came to bat in the 9th,  Jake Goebbert came in to pinch hit (player #6 in the slot). Goebbert flew out the left field and reliever Danny Farquhar (#7) moved into the slot. When he came to bat, the last position player on the bench was weak-hitting catcher Hank Conger (#8). He was sent in to pinch-hit. As mentioned above, he drew a walk and set up Motter for the win.

Still with me? If not, that's OK. As regular readers know, we here at WDBB thrive on quirkiness. Keeps our interest up.

The Bulls remain in first place in the South (yahoo!) and have moved a game and a half ahead of the Gwinnett Braves. The Bulls go for six-in-a -row tonight.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

News From the Bulls' Boss

Season (and half-season) ticket holders just got a letter from Durham Bulls General Manager Mike Birling that had some interesting news that seems to me to deserve a wider audience.
  • Netting: Some folks don't like the new netting, but foul ball injuries are down 20% and, even more important, major injuries are down 75%. My take: Keep the netting. I prefer the netting to having to worry about the fans who seem to be oblivious to the game — and that used to worry me quite a bit.
  • Parking: Day game parking was a big problem last year. However, for season ticket holders the problem went away this year. Thanks, Mike. Otherwise, parking and traffic will always be an issue that has to be worked on every day. Comes with being a growing city and successful downtown. I've seen Mike out directing traffic before and after games, so you know he takes it seriously.
  • Fewer games in a season: Going down to 71 home games in 2017 and 70 home games in 2018. Not sure why it's being done and whether or not it will affect the overall length of the season. Hope it means that with fewer games the players will get a couple of extra days off.
  • Now if only Major League Baseball will take a cue. Season's much too long. Who wants to watch baseball in the snow?

Baserunning, Hot Bats, First Place

Game 107, July 29, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Louisville Bats (Reds): 1
Durham Bulls (Rays): 9
Season: 49-58; Home Stand: 4-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Pruitt 67; Season Avg 57 (21 starts, 120.1 innings)
Team wOBA: Game .438; Season .301; Diff +.137

Eury Perez came back to the Bulls last night when Nick Franklin was called up to the Rays. Batting ninth in the order he drew a walk to start off the 3rd inning with the Bulls trailing 1-0. The next batter, Jake Hager, struck out, but not before Perez stole second base. Jaff Decker flew out to center field for the second out. While Taylor Motter was at bat, Perez stole third base. Motter drew a walk, the fourth of nine the Bulls drew during the game. After Richie Shaffer came to bat, a couple of pitches in, Motter took off for second and Perez stole home for the run that tied the game. Gee, that was fun to watch. Here's a scoring puzzle, though. Does a guy who steals home get an RBI for himself? (Ans: No)

Then, remember Richie Shaffer's still at bat, a double by him brought home Taylor Motter from second base and the Bulls went ahead 2-1.

In the next inning, the game came unraveled (from the Bats point of view) or we could say that the Bulls bats came alive. In the middle of it? Eury Perez. Jake Goebbert drew a walk to start the inning, moved to third on a Johnny Field single. A Perez grounder towards second base started a double play effort, but Perez did get an RBI when Goebbert came home. Even better, the shortstop threw the ball away instead of finishing the double play and Perez ended up on second base. Jaff Decker picked up the Bulls' sixth walk of the game and Taylor Motter hit a very pretty home run over the Blue Monster. Bulls went ahead 7-2 on just 4 hits.

The Bulls picked up a couple more runs in the 6th. Austin Pruitt got his 6th win. All was right in the world.

Even better, up in Toledo, the Mud Hens were beating the Gwinnett Braves. That meant that the Bulls moved to sole possession of first place in the South Division. It's been a long time. To be specific, back on April 11th, the fifth game of the year, the Bulls went a half-game ahead of Gwinnett for the only other time this year that the Bulls have led in the South. (standings)

Outside the game —
  • If you're curious about all the "non-waiver trade deadline" talk. Here's the definition. Not saying it will help understand why folks are so obsessed with it. But maybe.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs Louisville Bats

In one of oddest of the many oddities of this season's schedule, the Louisville Bats are coming to town tonight. This is the first time in our memory that an out-of-division team has ever visited twice in a season. Not only that, although the Bulls will play the Bats eight times this year, six games will have been in Durham and only two in Louisville. The Bulls did not do well in the previous games, losing 4 of the 5.

The Louisville Bats, Triple-A team of the Cincinnati Reds, is in third place in the International League West. By the stats geeks Pythagorean Expectation formula, they "should" be doing much, much worse than they are. By PE their won-loss record should be 45-60, which would push them down into last place in the IL West, behind the Toledo Mud Hens, the team the Bulls just swept.

The Bulls offensive stats ticked up every so slightly this week. Here's hoping that continues.

Outside the game —
  • The Raleigh News & Observer has not entirely abandoned Bulls coverage this year, although the game stories are just a cut-and-paste from the Bulls "wrap" items. The paper has been doing occasional feature articles. Today they had one on Eddie Gamboa and his knuckleball. Pretty good. Have to wonder, though, why the photo is of Gamboa in a Mexican winter league team uniform not throwing a knuckleball.
  • More on Patrick Kinas' trip to the Summer Olympics here, with video. Sounds like a lot of work (and a lot of fun).

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Bulls Sweep Hens

Game 106, July 28, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit): 2
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay):5
Season: 48-58, Home Stand: 3-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Schultz 56; Schultz on season: Quality Start % .667
Tm wOBA: Game .320; Season .300, Diff +.020

This sweep of the Mud Hens is a big deal. Not that the Hens are all that good a team, but Bulls pitching and hitting showed some real improvement. In fact, the offensive trends are up since the All-Star break.

As an example, sacrifice flies are a rarity this year. The Bulls have only had 25 in the season and only in two games have they had two. Both of those games were in July. Both of them wins.

Last night Richie Shaffer and Jake Goebbert both had sac flies in the 4-run 6th inning that won the game.

Outside the game —
  • Patrick Kinas, the Bulls' superb broadcaster, is off to Rio to broadcast Olympic swimming. He will miss 22 Bulls games. In his absence we will be hearing quite an array of "voice talent". Check out the list at the link. 
  • If I heard right, there's a very good reason that Casey Coleman suddenly went on the disabled list — he had an emergency appendectomy a couple of days ago up in Pennsylvania. Why the Bulls, or, for that matter, reporters that cover the Bulls, don't pick up on human interest stories like this continues to surprise me. About the only way to get details about the Bulls is to listen to Kinas' pre-game interviews with manager Jared Sandberg, which the Bulls don't podcast. At any rate, we wish Coleman well. No idea how long his recovery will take.
  • Trade rumors are a'buzzin' [Rays Index]. Why should we care? Because the Rays could be trading for prospect talent and that talent could end up here, not to mention folks that might get called up to replace traded players.
  • The Bulls have a day off. The Louisville Bats come to town on Friday, 7 pm.
The Bulls remain in second place in the IL South. The Charlotte Knights have had an awful stretch. The Gwinnett Braves have bounced back from a big collapse.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

A 14 Inning Win

Game 105, July 27, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Toledo Mud Hens: 4
Durham Bulls: 5
14 innings
Season: 47-58; Home Stand: 2-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Marks 58; Season Avg 52 (16 starts, 91 innings, 50% "quality starts")
Tm wOBA: Game .281; Season .299; Diff -.018

The longest game of the year ended in a very satisfying victory with a clear-cut hero in Jaff Decker. First, his 3-run homer in the bottom of the 9th tied the game. Then he bunted for a single in the 14th. Got moved to second base on a Hank Conger sacrifice. Then scored for the walk-off win on a beautiful Daniel Robertson hit down the right field line. Robertson got the ice dump, as he should have.

Before that 9th inning home run, we were regretting the decision for Justin Marks to come out for the 7th inning. Up to that point, the Bulls were ahead 1-0. We did note, however, that the Mud Hens were hitting a lot of deep fly balls, 8 so far in the game. After a walk, a deep fly ball got over the wall and that put the Mud Hens ahead. It wasn't until then that the Bulls even had a reliever warming up.

Rhyne Stanek had his worst appearance of the year. Two runs were added. The rain started falling. I went home and turned on the TV in time to see Decker's heroics.

I'm liking young Casey Gillaspie more and more. It seems odd to me to find a player who plays only first base, but he does a good job of it and he gets on base, a lot. Given the differences in their appearances and games played, you have to think it's very odd that he and Jaff Decker lead in a lot of statistical categories. They are 1 and 2 for both on-base percentage and OPS. Decker's been in 72 games, Gillaspie in just 10. Gillaspie had a double and a walk last night. Richie Shaffer, by the way, had three walks in his 6 plate appearances.

Outside the game —
  • Ryan Garton came off the DL to pitch in last night's game.
  • Casey Coleman went on the DL.
  • Melvin (the shortstop formerly known as BJ) Upton is now with the Toronto Blue Jays and back in the American League East. Fondly remembered as "E6" for those of us who sat on the first base side of the field during the three years (2004-2006) he spent time with the Bulls. During those years he committed 111 errors, earning his nickname. On the other hand, he was also just about the most gifted pure athlete to wear a Bulls uniform for an extended period of time.
  • We mentioned all the trade talk. Here's an example from Rays Index. There's lots more.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Conger Has a Good Night

Game 104, July 25, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina
Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers): 2
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 8
Season: 46-58; Home Stand: 1-0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Faria 56; Season Avg 47 (6 starts, 26.2 innings)
Team OPS: Game .952; Season .668; Diff +.284
Team wOBA: Game .383; Season .300; Diff +.083

In yesterday's post, I complained about new guy Hank Conger who was not having a particularly good introduction to the Bulls, hitting just .130. Nor could I understand why he'd be put in a DH slot with that kind of record. And then there he was in the lineup as DH as I filled out my score card! I grumbled about that all through the first two innings, along with being appalled at the appearance of the turf. The outfield looks just awful.

I continued to be sure of my opinion even after Mr. Conger's single in the 3rd inning. After all, every one of the players on the bench, Jaff Decker, Richie Shaffer, or Daniel Robertson, had much better stats than him. But then he came to bat in the 4th. By that time the Bulls had scored a run off an Arencibia fielder's choice. Runners were on first and second with two outs. So what did he do? Batting left-handed (he's a switch-hitter), he chips one over the Blue Monster, bringing home 3 runs and putting the Bulls ahead, 4 to 2. Jake Goebbert hit a home run the next at bat to put the game away.

Bottom line: As much as it pains me to my soul to admit it, putting Hank Conger in the lineup in the DH slot was the right call last night.

Jacob Faria had a good night. It was particularly notable following his last two starts where he had Game Scores of -6(!) and 24.

But it was a hitters' game. J.P. Arencibia continued his hot streak with a single and 2 RBIs. Taylor Motter hit two doubles, scored 2 runs, and had an RBI. Dayron Varona had a double, walk, scored a run, and an RBI. We've already mentioned the homers by Conger and Goebbert.

Plus, we need to mention that twice the Mud Hens put a runner on third base with a triple and neither of them scored. Good defense, good pitching.

Outside the game —
  • The Montgomery Biscuits, Tampa Bays' AA team, is in first place in  their division in the Souther League. (standings)
  • The Bulls are 12 games below .500, but have moved into sole possession of second place in the South Division of the International League. (standings).
  • The web is abuzz with possible deals involving the Rays. Most of the speculation involves them trading off starting pitchers. If they are dealing pitchers for prospects, we can expect some roster turmoil here with the Bulls.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Matchup: Toledo Mud Hens vs. Durham Bulls

The second-most famous team in minor league baseball, the Toledo Mud Hens, arrives in Durham today. The Mud Hens are the Triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The Bulls lost 2 out of 3 up in Toledo at the end of May. The Mud Hens are last in the West Division and are not having a good year. And yet they lead the Bulls in essentially all statistical categories. The Bulls will have to continue their improvement to win this series.

On the other hand, baseball is finally back in Durham. It has been a long, long 14 days since the last game in the DBAP!

Long Trip; One-Run Losses

Game 101, July 22, PNC Field, Moosic, Pennsylvania
Durham Bulls: 5
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRaiders: 6
10 innings
Wrap, Box, Scranton Times-Tribune
Game Score: Schultz 42; Season Avg 54 (20 starts, 97 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .358; Season .298; Diff +.060

Game 102, July 23, PNC Field
Durham Bulls: 4
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: 5
Wrap, Box, Scranton Times-Tribune
Game Score: Pruitt 38; Season Avg 56 (20 starts, 114.1 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .363; Season .299; Diff +.064

Game 103, July 24, PNC Field
Durham Bull: 3
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders: 4
Season: 45-58; Trip: 5-6
Wrap, Box
Game Score: Gamboa 38; Season Avg 52 (8 starts, 30.2 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .270; Season .299; Diff -.029

After starting the post-All-Star trip with two losses in Syracuse, the Bulls then pulled off four wins in a row, wins that started with a spectacular no-hitter by Justin Marks and continued with decent hitting. The wins included two in extra innings. Two Durham Bulls, Marks and J.P. Arencibia, were named as IL Players of the Week.

Then we have these three one-run losses where three usually reliable starters aren't so reliable.

Oddly enough, for a day or so the Bulls were in first place in the IL South, tied with the Charlotte Knights. Today the Bulls are still tied with the Charlotte Knights but they are both in second place. The Gwinnett Braves have ridden a five-game winning streak into first place.

This has to have been the toughest road trip of the year for the Bulls and we can guess that they are looking forward to being back in Durham and Thursday's day off.

I have to mention my annoyance with one of the Bulls newest members, Hank Conger, a catcher who appears to bring nothing to the team (unless he is particularly good at handling pitchers). In his 6 games as a Bull he's had just 3 hits (.230/.167/.217), although he is fitting right in with his 8 strikeouts. Why would he DH with those kinds of stats? By the way, the Bulls lead the International League in K's with  887.

On the positive side, switch-hitting first baseman Casey Gillaspie is looking awfully good, as is J.P. Arencibia

If we aggregate the stats over the 11 games, we see a few ticks upward in hitting stats, a small improvement in the relief crew's work, and a worrisome drop in starting pitcher performance.

Lastly, continuing our look at a Bulls' "Road to .500" possibilities — steep road. The Bulls need to win 27 out of their next 41 games to get to .500 on the season.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Durham Bulls Tied for First

Game 100, July 21, PNC Field, Moosic, Pennsylvania
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 8
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (New York Yankees): 4
Season: 45-55; Trip: 5-3
Wrap, Box, Scranton Times-Tribune

Game Score: Marks 46; Season Avg 53 (15 starts, 84 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .415; Season .297; Diff +.118

The Bulls are in 1st place in the International League South Division! How weird is that? They are 10 games below .500 and yet they are tied with Charlotte for first place. Plus, they won a game from the best in the IL in a very impressive fashion. See the chart below.

At first, it looked as if Justin Marks, who threw a no-hitter his last time out, was going to have a very short outing. He got through the first inning OK, but the 2nd was a disaster. Then, the Bulls had a great top-of-the-3rd with Taylor Motter's 2-run homer a highlight and acting manager Ozzie Timmons left him in the game. A couple of double plays helped as he did a good job through the 5th.

Timmons and, very likely, pitching coach Kyle Snyder, had to make the decision because manager Jared Sandberg had gotten himself thrown out of the game in the 1st inning. By my count, this was the fourth ejection of the year (2 wins and 2 losses) and gets us wondering about his anger management skills. Did he have a legitimate beef? Probably. Nick Franklin had taken a pitch off his hand that was called a foul ball, not a hit-by-pitch. Franklin ended up leaving the game.

In the 4th Richie Shaffer hit a long home run to tie the game. Jaff Decker drew a walk and did some nice base running to get to 3B on a Daniel Robertson single. Decker came home on a Johnny Field sac fly. That put the Bulls ahead to stay. Speaking of Decker, in the 8th the accounts will show he hit a double, and that's fair. What they don't say is that the hit was a dribbler that barely made it past the infield and the RailRiders didn't expect Decker to even think about going to second base until they looked around and there he was standing on the bag. Decker came home for the Bulls' 8th run on a Johnny Field single.

Add in Daniel Robertson's 2-run homer in the 6th and you have the Bulls best day at bat in a long while.

Parker Markel came back from Hudson Valley to pitch the 6th inning. Ryan Garton has been put on the disabled list. [Note: I assume that most readers of WDBB understand that to/from Hudson Valley transactions are typically paper transactions. Markel, for example, has very likely been traveling with the team, just not wearing a game jersey.]

Kirby Yates, one of WDBB's all-time favorites (e.g., see a typical post here), came to the mound to pitch the 9th inning for the RailRiders. After coming up through the Rays system Yates started the season as a Yankee. He came down to the RailRiders at the end of June. Overall, he seems to be doing OK on the year even if he's back in Triple-A. J.P. Arencibia, who must have caught him a couple of times last year, seemed particularly amused during his at-bat, and he managed a single off of him.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Loss in Rochester; Off to Moosic

Game 99, July 20, Frontier Field, Rochester, New York
Durham Bulls: 2
Rochester Red Wings: 6
Season: 44-55; Trip: 4-3
Wrap, Box, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Game Score: Faria 24; Season Avg 45 (5 starts, 20.2 innings)
Team wOBA: Game .250; Season .296; Difference -.046

Morning did not suit the Bulls yesterday, especially young Jacob Faria. He will undoubtedly improve, but he's obviously having trouble adjusting to Triple-A hitters.

Nick Franklin is back with the Bulls and accounted for all of the game's RBIs. Dayron Varona continued his hot hitting. Richie Shaffer committed his 14th error. Hank Conger is still working toward his first hit as a Bull. Eury Perez was moved to the Sand Crabs to make room for Franklin.

Moving on down the road
After yesterday's game, the Bulls trekked on to Moosic, Pennsylvania to play the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Interesting site for a baseball field. (zoom in to see)


If this looks/sounds familiar, it is. I mistakenly put it up a couple of days ago when I misread the schedule. Updated.

The Bulls face their most formidable matchup of the year in these four games against the Yankees Triple-A franchise. Back at the end of May, the Bulls took two out of three. We could say that stats aren't everything, but...

Since then the RailRiders have gotten even better and the Bulls have remained in the cellar for offensive stats and middle of the road in pitching. As can be seen, the RailRiders lead not just the North Division, but the entire International League in all these key metrics.

They are 4th in errors committed, but the Bulls are 14th in that category, too.

The RailRiders are coming home from a 3-game series in Charlotte where they lost 2 of 3. However, they've won 7 of their last 10.

Gonna be a tough series.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Another Comeback Win

Game 98, July 19, Frontier Field, Rochester, New York
Durham Bulls: 7
Rochester Red Wings: 6
10 innings
Season: 44-54; Trip: 4-2
Wrap, Box, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Game Score: Gamboa 68; Season Avg 54 (7 starts, 26 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .289; Season .296; Diff -.007

Eddie Gamboa had his second terrific start in a row, thoroughly baffling the Red Wings lineup. Plus the offense put together 6 runs on mostly small ball. In the dugout after six innings, he should have been chalking up his sixth win. Dana Eveland had a nice, clean 7th inning. Then there was a truly awful beginning of the 8th. The Red Wings scored 5 runs off of Steve Geltz to tie it up.

No fan just watching from the stands or on TV can do anything more  than just speculate, but this is Mr. Geltz' second visit back from Tampa Bay and he's not doing well at all. On yesterday's 1/3 of an inning his ERA ballooned from 3.31 to 5.94. More than that, he just doesn't look confident on the mound.

New guy Casey Coleman came on to get out of that inning and the 9th. In the 10th a walk and a single (Casey Gillaspie and Richie Shaffer) led to a pitching change. After Jaff Decker K'd, a bit of shakiness on the part of the pitcher/catcher combination led to a passed ball and set up Dayron Varona's second RBI.

Then new guy Ryne Stanek simply blew away the Red Wings in the bottom of the 10th. The Red Wing announcers were called the fastball speeds and they were 97-98 mph most of the time and one was 100. A very impressive young man.

Outside the game —
  • Nick Franklin is coming back. In yet another example of how little I understand Rays' decision-making. Here's a guy who has played in 4 different positions for the Rays over 19 games and a holds a .836 OPS. And they are sending him back?  Happy to have him. But looks foolish on the Rays part. 
  • Early morning game today. 11:05.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Durham Bulls Take Advantage of Gifts

Game 97, July 18, Frontier Field, Rochester, New York
Durham Bulls (Rays): 9
Rochester Red Wings (Twins): 5
10 innings
Wrap, Box, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Game Score: Pruit 49; Season Avg 57 (19 starts, 108.1 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .316; Season .296; Diff +.020

The Rochester Red Wings have the best defense in the International League. The Durham Bulls have the worst. Did not work that way last night. Two errors from the Red Wings led to 8 unearned runs by the Bulls.

The big moment was Taylor Motter's grand slam in the 10th. Following as it did a throwing error, two walks, and a run-scoring, tie-breaking single, it was perhaps understandable that the Red Wings manager Mike Quade made some intemperate remarks directed at Motter. They were enough for him to get thrown out of the game.

The grand slam was needed. Bulls pitching gave up a lot of hits, 15 of them, including 3 home runs, one of them in the bottom of the 10th. A pitcher just back from Tampa Bay, Ryan Garton, was credited with both a blown save and a win after an ugly 9th inning.

Two newcomers were in the game. First baseman Casey Gillaspie, up from Montgomery, was in his third game as a Bull. He got his first hit, an RBI double. Catcher Hank Conger was in his second game since coming down from Tampa Bay. He has yet to get a hit. He did, however, catch Justin Marks' no-hitter the other day

Outside the game —
  • Durham Bulls players made a clean sweep of the Player of the Week honors in the International League. Justin Marks was named Pitcher of the Week and J.P. Arencibia was named Hitter of the Week. Congratulations!
  • Speaking no-hitters, we trolled back into the vast WDBB archives and found this account of the last time Bulls pitchers threw a no-hitter. 
  • Then there's this story from the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that digs into the possibility that the firing the Minnesota Twins General Manager could have an impact on who the Red Wings affiliation with the team. It turns out that the Red Wings, Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and Toledo Mud Hens have contracts that expire at the end of the season. 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Arencibia Rules!

Game 96, July 17, NBT Bank Stadium
Durham Bulls: 8
Syracuse Chiefs: 4
Season: 42-54; Trip: 2-2
Wrap, Box, Syracuse

Game Score: Schultz 49; Season Average 54 (19 starts, 93 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .392; Season .296; Difference +.096

Catcher J.P. Arencibia accounted for a big fraction of the runs yesterday, for both teams.

His solo home run in the 2nd inning started things off. Then a 2-RBI double in the 4th put the Bulls ahead 3 to 1. A bases-loaded passed ball let in a run for the Chiefs in the bottom of the 6th. Another solo home run in the 8th put the Bulls up 6-2.

Jamie Schultz is apparently on a very restricted pitch count, something like 75 pitches per game. He is up to 1,634 pitches on the year (19 starts), the most of any starter on the team. Perhaps because the Rays want him to be available in September?

At any rate, he did OK yesterday. Several of the newish guys followed, all except Danny Farquhar looked fine as well. Farquhar's stint was affected by yet another iron-handed play that led to two unearned runs.

Outside the game —
  • I'm puzzled by the Chiefs' dismal attendance, just 3,000 for a Sunday afternoon. I've never been to Syracuse, so all I've seen of the park is what shows on the MiLB-TV shots. All day yesterday the background visual was trains, noisy trains. From the satellite shot (below) the location appears to be industrial, very different from so many other minor league parks that are located in the middle of cities. 
  • Maybe it's their affiliation, they are far from Washington, DC.
  • On the TV broadcast during the Friday blowout the announcer made the comment that the IL South Division was, "an affront to organized baseball." And he regularly pointed out the Bulls' dismal stats, especially their strikeouts and batting average, both worst in the league. So it was satisfying to take these last two games. I do have to note that he was more than gracious when he called the final inning of Marks' no-hitter.
  • Nonetheless, it is a bit odd that the Bulls, who are 12 games below .500 are in second place in the South Division. [standings]

Sunday, July 17, 2016


Game 95, July 16, NBT Bank Stadium, Syracuse, New York
Durham Bulls: 2
Syracuse Chiefs: 0
Season: 41-54; Trip: 1-2
Wrap, Box, Syracuse, Play-by-Play, Gameday, MiLB

Game Score: Marks 97; Season Avg 52 (14 starts, 70 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .191; Season .294; Diff -.103

This was the first complete game no-hitter in Durham Bulls history! A very big deal. Justin Marks was not doing all that well this year, but now he's in the history books with a great game. 130 pitches, 2 walks, 1 hit batter, no hits, no runs.

Usually in minor league ball a pitcher never even gets a chance to finish a game even if he has a no-hitter going. This time, Justin Marks stayed in the game and set any number of personal and team records.

I listened/watched just the first couple of innings, so missed the whole game. Best stories are at the wrap link and at the MiLB link. Today's game starts at 1:35, so  I suggest listening in to Patrick Kinas' pre-game show that will likely start about 1:25. If the usual pattern follows, he will be interviewing manager Jared Sandberg. Kinas likely to provide more historical perspective.

Here's the last batter, called by the Chiefs' broadcaster.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

1 by 1; 2 by 11

Game 93, July 14, NBT Stadium, Syracuse, New York
Durham Bulls (Rays): 4
Syracuse Chiefs (Nationals): 5
Wrap, Box,

Game Score: Gamboa 62; Season Avg 52 (6 starts, 19.2 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .548; Season .656; Difference -.108
Tm wOBA: Game .248; Season .295; Difference -.047

Game 94, July 15, NBT Stadium
Durham Bulls: 1
Syracuse Chiefs: 12
Season: 40-54; Trip: 0-2
Wrap, Box

Game Score: Faria -6; Season 50 (4 starts, 15.2 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .659; Season .656; Diff .003
Tm wOBA: Game .262; Season .295; Diff -.033

The best thing that I can think of to say is that not very many people saw these games. I am sure there's a reason for the Chiefs' poor attendance, but they rank at the bottom of the International League. On a Friday night, they were credited with just 5,248 fans (and just 5,869 on Thursday). But that's above their season average of just 3,866, so perhaps the Bulls are a draw.

I don't want to write about these two games. The first was lost when Dayron Varona missed a fly ball in the 9th. But that was after Parker Markel gave up the Bulls lead in the 6th inning and J.P. Arencibia tied it up in the 9th.

Jacob Faria's 1st inning last night was as ugly an inning as you would ever want to see. Single, walk, walk, single, grand slam, single, single, K, Sac fly (second out), single.

But the pain kept up as the Bulls' iron hands committed two errors on one ball that let a run in, and then there was a triple before a K ended the inning.

14 Chiefs came to bat.

Quite possibly the worst 1st inning in Bulls history.

A slew of roster changes, and likely more coming:
  • Luke Maile got called up to Tampa Bay (and went 2 for 3 with a RBI)
  • Kyle Roller came off the disabled list, but was released.
  • Hank Conger, a catcher who has been with the Rays all season, is headed toward the Bulls. Stats.
  • Dana Eveland arrived from Tampa Bay and pitched on Thursday.
  • Kyle Winkler went back to Montgomery.
  • Johnny Field came off the disabled list and played Thursday and Friday.
  • Mayo Acosta is back from "Hudson Valley"; Cameron Seitzer is off to Hudson Valley. 
  • An infielder named Casey Gillaspie is coming up from Montgomery (stats).
  • Pitcher Ryan Garton is coming back from Tampa Bay.
  • Pitcher Tyler Sturdevant is coming back from Tampa Bay.
Got all that? Very likely even more changes coming. The team that comes back after this road trip is going to be quite different than the one that left.

Austin Pruitt got the win in the Triple-A All-Star game. Congrats.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Durham Bulls at the All Star Break - Part 3 - Pitchers and Hitters


The Bulls have seen 31 different players on the mound this season.  Three were position players. Several have been called up. Some have come back. Others have been released. They have 13 on the roster, but that's a moving target. We charted 12 of the current crew and included Adam Wilk, who is currently on the disabled list. Not included are Ryan Stanek, Casey Coleman, Kyle Winkler, and Dana Eveland because they have very few innings and/or their roster status isn't clear. Also note that Jacob Faria, who is on the chart, only has 15 innings in Triple-A. Overall, as was noted in our previous post, the pitching crew is doing OK.


The stats geeks don't like ERA for lots of reasons. So here's a chart with both ERA and FIP (Fielding Independent Percentage). In general, FIP seems better for a short-term look and ERA for a longer term. This chart is sorted by FIP. We have a sample size problem (few innings) with a couple of the guys. Nevertheless, the bottom four pitchers, which include a starter and three relievers, are not having good years, the rest are OK.

click on chart for larger view

Walks/Hits per Inning Pitched, interestingly, sorts out with the same four pitchers on the bottom.

Pitches per Out

This is a home-brewed stat that basically highlights just how hard a pitcher has to work to get an out. Again, the same four pitchers— Steve Geltz, Neil Wagner, Mark Sappington, and Justin Marks—are at the bottom.


Coming to the plate so far this year we've seen 21 different Durham Bulls. We've charted 14 of them, but admit that it could be a moving target. A catcher, Hank Conger, is on his way from Tampa Bay. Kyle Roller, who was in 50 games this year, has been released. Cameron Seitzer and Mayo Acosta are on and off the roster. Juniel Querecuto is with Montgomery at the moment.

This is not a very impressive crew this year. We pointed out the team stats in a previous post. The individual stats show only 4 with positive wRAAs and one of those, Johnny Field is on the disabled list. It's worth noting that all but two have now gotten above the "Mendoza Line" (.200) in their batting averages. However, when watching a game it's hard to get your hopes up when any of these guys come to the plate.

From a fan's perspective, we have to say that the players who have been the most fun to watch were Jaff Decker, Dayon Varona, and Taylor Motter. We have hopes that Jake Goebbert and J.P. Arencibia will catch some breaks. We think Luke Maile is breaking out, but he or J.P. Arencibia is likely to be called up today or tomorrow. Richie Shaffer is helping the team a lot, the best wRAA of them all. It just seems like he is working so hard, for less return than hoped for.

Jaff Decker
Johnny Field
Richie Shaffer
Dayron Varona
Daniel Robertson
Jake Goebbert
Luke Maile
Eury Perez
J.P. Arencibia
Jake Hager
Juniel Querecuto
Taylor Motter
Cameron Seitzer
Mayo Acosta

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Durham Bulls at the All Star Break - Part 2 - Pitching and Hitting


Bulls pitching has been just fine. The starters' collective ERA is 3.40, much better than the league average of 3.64. The relievers have not been doing nearly as well, but as a team, the pitching crew has been better than the league average.

Game Scores

The Game Scores chart reflects the starting crew's strengths and weaknesses. Adam Wilk is now on the disabled list and Eddie Gamboa had quite a stretch on the list as well. Clearly, Austin Pruitt is  the better of the crew that started the season and Jacob Faria's three games have been very promising. Note that a Game Score of 50 is considered average.


The fundamental problem with the 2016 Bulls is hitting. The team wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average) at the moment is .296. In general, .300 is considered "poor" and .290 is considered an "awful" wOBA. For the last month or so the wOBA has wavered between "awful" and "poor" with no real trend one way or another.

See Part 1 for charts on overall team performance. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Durham Bulls at the All-Star Break - Part 1

The best team in the International League South Division is the Charlotte Knights (White Sox). They are an ugly 8 games below .500. That leaves the Durham Bulls in the very odd position of being an even worse 12 games below .500 in the won-loss metric, but only 2 games behind in the division competition. [standings]

Click for larger image

This leads quite naturally to the speculation that if the Bulls could make a serious run at reaching just the .500 mark they'd have a chance at winning the division and making the playoffs (the wild card is obviously going to come from either the North or West Division). So here's a chart that tracks the Bulls' performance back to mid-season (72 games) and shows the path to .500. The Bulls need to win 32 out of the next 52 games to get there.

How did the Bulls descend to such levels? Well, their opponents scored more runs than they did. How's that for a blinding glimpse of the obvious? The Bulls' run differential seems to have stabilized over the last several games. Unfortunately, that stability has come at around the -60 mark. It could be worse. If you take the run differential and process it through the Pythagorean Expectation formula the Bulls "should" be at 38-54 instead of their actual 40-52. Small favors.

How does the current situation compare to previous years? Well, the Bulls are reaching down into 2012 territory, but that was between two Governors' Cup years. In 2012 the Bulls finished 66-78 and in third place in the South Division.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Ineptness Rules Last Game Before Break

Game 92, July 10, DBAP
Pawtucket Red Sox: 4
Durham Bulls: 1
Season: 40-52; Home Stand: 3-4
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: Marks 63; Season Avg 49 (13 starts, 70 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .214; Season .296; Diff -.082

Yes, the defense was the worst we've seen this season. Six errors. Everyone on the infield (less the catcher, but including the pitcher) committed an error. The second baseman made two. Nevertheless, the result was only two unearned runs.

Bulls pitching was, in fact, pretty good. Justin Marks yet again got scant run support. His Game Score of 63 was well above his season average. The relief crew wasn't spectacular, but did OK.

Look to the Pawsox pitcher for another explanation for the loss. Bulls hitters never figured out William Cuevas, and were certainly impatient. Cuevas only used 95 pitches to get through 8 full innings (it took him just 5 pitches to get through the 8th inning!). He was only touched once and that on a very awkward swing by Dayron Varona that put a ball over the Blue Monster.

Outside the game —
  • Here we are at the All-Star break. I'll post some of my charts over the next day or so.
  • Isn't this schedule weird? The Bulls aren't back in town until 25th of July. They get their All-Star break and then start an 11-game three city tour of the North. 
  • I once read that the IL schedule was done with pencil and paper by an old-time baseball guy in Norfolk. That must have changed last year or maybe there's another reason for what seems to be a bit of a mess. Anyhow, only 25 home games left. 
  • The upside may be that the turf gets a rest. The grass at the DBAP is about the worst I've ever seen. That's the one piece of the big renovation that does not seem to have worked all that well. Although I'd rather blame Duke, the ACC tournament, or both. 
  • Appropo of nothing particular: What happened to the Blue Monster? Moths get to his suit?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunshine Saturday

Game 90, July 8-9, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Pawtucket Red Sox: 0
Durham Bulls: 3
Game 1; Continuation of game suspended July 8

Game 91, July 9
Pawtucket Red Sox: 4
Durham Bulls: 5
7 Innings
Season: 40-51; Home Stand: 3-3
Wrap, Box 1, Box 2, Herald-Sun

Stats (Game 91):
Game Score: Shultz 44; Season Avg 54 (18 starts, 89.1 innings)
Tm wOBA: Game .437; Season .297; Diff +.140

The big deal, for me, in the 6 inning continuation of Friday's game, was to see Eddie Gamboa stretch out. This was the first time he'd reached 5 innings and he kept his pitch count (62) in a reasonable range. His best this year, a year I'd been hoping he'd break out as a knuckleballer. The other moment was Richie Shaffer's home run in 8th. Pretty shot.

In the 7-inning second game we saw something very unusual for this year's Bulls, sacrifice flies (by Dayron Varona and Daniel Robertson). The Bulls have only hit 19 of them this year and this was the first time with more than one in a game.

We're worried about Jamie Schultz. He seemed to be working really, really hard. It took him 65 pitches to get through 3 innings and he gave up a bunch of walks. When he left we got to see both of the new guys, Kyle Winkler and Casey Coleman. Winkler had a tough 4th inning that started out with Richie Shaffer's error in right field, but ended up with a bases-loaded flyout to left. Not particularly impressive. On the other hand, Casey Coleman looked very good allowing just one hit and striking out 4 in his second appearance as a Bull. Adam Kolarek was just a bit too exciting, thank you very much. He got two quick outs, then walked two batters before getting the last out.

Has Richie Shafer turned a corner? Maybe. He had a good night with a homer in the first game and two more hits in the second game.

I think, but am not sure, that it was the first time this year that every batter in the lineup (second game) was batting over .200. Taylor Motter broke through the Mendoza line by the time the game was out. Sad to say, but that's a big deal with the 2016 Durham Bulls.

Outside the game —
  • Juniel Querecuto was sent down to Montgomery to make room for Kyle Winkler.
  • Kyle Winkler was added and we saw him pitch. We saw him last year when he came up from the Biscuits at the end of the season, but it looks like he started this year in independent ball and did not join the Biscuits until after the season started. Good numbers with the Biscuits. Stats.
  • The Tampa Bay Rays descended into unchartered territory, 19 games below .500. Reflections by Tampa Bay Times reporter Marc Topkin here.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Pawsox Rain on Bulls; New Guy?

Game 89, July 7, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Pawtucket Red Sox (Boston): 9
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay): 1
Season: 38-51; Home Stand: 1-3
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game Score: NA (rain delay, game continued after 2-hour delay)
Tm wOBA: Game .162; Season .295; Diff -.133

The tarp was pulled when Jaff Decker was at bat in the bottom of the 1st. Then they took it off. Then they put it back on. After hanging out for 45 minutes or so, I gave up and went home. Two hours after the first pull the game restarted. By that time I was dried off and ensconced in front of my TV.

For the Bulls, Jaff Decker at DH drew a walk and then got caught trying to steal second base. After that, the Bulls were no-hit until the bottom of the 8th while the Pawsox feasted off five Bulls pitchers (including Decker who pitched the 9th).

Parker Markel just never got into any kind of groove seeming to alternate between K's and BB's. In the end, he took the loss. He gave up just 4 of the 16 hits the Pawsox put together.

We did get to see a new Durham Bull, right-hand reliever Casey Coleman. But broadcasters Kinas and Pose were too busy nattering on about video games from their childhood to tell us about him. Coleman does look to be an interesting guy. See links here and here. He opted out of his contract with the Mariners. He was having a decent season with Tacoma in the PCL.  Obviously, he did not do all that well last night, 3 runs on 4 hits and a hit batsman. Have to say I could care less about video arcades in the midwest in the 70's (80's?). I do care about learning at least a little bit about a new Durham Bull that the Rays signed a day ago, and why they signed him.

Note: Perhaps Coleman was introduced in the pre-game show. Not sure. I'm having difficulty getting my little radio to work inside the ballpark.

Final admission: I gave up with the Bulls behind 7-0, thoroughly annoyed with the broadcast crew and with the Bulls. I don't know any more about the last couple of innings than you do if you read the wrap or the Herald-Sun story.

Outside the game —
  • The Bulls are offering a ticket exchange for anyone who had a ticket last night. But — a big but — you have to go down to the ticket office to get the exchange. Good luck with that. Details at the wrap link.
  • The Gwinnett Braves have moved into first place in the South Division (standings) even though they are 8 games below .500. Everyone else, including the Bulls, are even worse.
  • With the new guy on board, Mayo Acosta has been assigned to Hudson Valley.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs. Pawtucket Red Sox

The Pawtucket Red Sox are the Triple-A team of the Boston Red Sox. In past years these have often been terrific, and very important, games for both teams. Doesn't look like it will work out that way this season, but maybe.

The PawSox are in 5th place in the six-team North Division of the IL, 9 games out of first place. They lead the Bulls in key hitting and pitching categories. They seem to be an impatient crew, drawing the fewest bases-on-balls of any team in the league. On the other hand, they don't strike out nearly as much as the Bulls. Pawsox hitters have only struck out 602 times this year. Bulls have struck out 760 times and lead the league in that category.

click on image for larger view

Luke Maile Coming Into His Own?

Luke Maile
Game 87, July 5, Goodman Field
Syracuse Chiefs: 6
Durham Bulls: 4
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun
Game Score: Marks 37; Season Avg 48 (12 starts, 53 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .816; Season .653; Diff +.163
Tm wOBA: Game .352; Season .294; Diff +.058

Game 88; July 6, Goodman Field, Durham, North Carolina
Syracuse Chiefs: 2
Durham Bulls: 11
Season: 38-50; Home Stand: 1-2
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

GSc: Faria 72; Season Avg 69 (3 starts, 15 innings)
Tm OPS: Game 1.072; Season .658; Diff +.414
Tm wOBA: Game .478; Season .296, Diff +.182

These are big hitting numbers to go along with a solid game, and first Triple-A win, by new guy Jacob Faria.

The guy I want to call attention to today is Luke Maile. Last night he had 2 doubles raising his total to 12 on the season and collected his 12th RBI. That doesn't sound all that special until we recognize he had a stretch of time early in the season on the disabled list and a not-very-successful early June. But in the last month, he's been hitting at a .309/.373/.471 pace, with 5 of his 12 doubles and 2 home runs (the only ones this year). He's started at catcher in 43 games this season, the rest of his games are as the designated hitter. Maile got a late call-up last year with the Rays and did OK behind the plate, not so good at bat. But lately, he's looking better, much better. He's on the 40-man and the Rays have catcher issues.

[Note: Former Bull  catcher Steven Vogt selected as All-Star. Surely one of the most egregious mistakes in Rays history to let him go off to Oakland.]

Meanwhile, recent returnees Jaff Decker and Taylor Motter picked up 4 RBIs between them and every Bull except Mayo Acosta got a hit (and Acosta got a sac fly RBI).

Outside the game —
  • Manager Jared Sandberg recently gave a talk to a Durham sports club. Some insights into his managing philosophy presented.
  • Dylan Floro got his first call-up to the major leagues. Likely to make his debut today. Good luck! Congrats!
  • To make room, Dana Eveland, who has three appearances with the Bulls this year, was DFA'd.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Fireworks (Not by Bulls) at the DBAP

Game 86, July 4, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham,North Carolina
Syracuse Chiefs (Washington Nationals): 9
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 2
Season: 37-49; Home Stand: 0-1
Wrap, Box, Herald Sun

Game Score: Shultz 56; Season Avg 55 (17 starts, 86.1 innings)
Tm OPS: Game .397; Season .651; Diff -.254
Tm wOBA: Game .193; Season .294; Diff -.101
[See note below]

Pretty ugly pitching and hitting, but the weather was fine and a big crowd saw the fireworks ... after the game.

Reliable Jamie Schultz did quite well. Mark Sappington and Neil Wagner were awful. After their appearances, the Bulls bullpen was essentially empty, although Parker Markel, Steve Geltz, and first baseman Cameron Seitzer filled in for a couple of innings.

The crew was limited to just three hits.

Outside the game —
  • Taylor Motter is back. He's a fun player to watch. Just wish his bat would come back to 2015 levels.
  • Starting pitcher Ryne Stanek is coming up from Montgomery. This will be his Triple-A debut, but the exact date hasn't been announced. Stats.
  • Tyler Sturdevant has been called back to Tampa Bay.
  • Outfielder Johnny Field has gone on the disabled list.
Note on Stats —
  • Game Score gives you a sense of how the starting pitcher did in a game. A game score of 50 is a "quality start". In this case, Jamie Schultz had a quality start and is having an above average season.
  • The Team OPS for this game was well below the team's season OPS, which is the worst in the International League. Not a good game at all.
  • The stats geeks think that wOBA is a much better measure of individual performance than OPS. I like it. But no site I've found tracks wOBA for either  a team or a league, so these are my computations. After 86 games the Bulls are just at .294. An individual player with a wOBA of .300 is considered a "poor" player. A .320 wOBA is considered average.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Bulls Win in Norfolk! Coming Home

Game 84, July 2, Harbor Park, Norfolk, Virginia
Durham Bulls: 0
Norfolk Tides: 1
12 innings
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot

Game 85, July 3, Harbor Park, Norfolk, Virginia
Durham Bulls: 4
Norfolk Tides: 1
Season: 37-48; Trip: 3-4
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot

After dropping three in a row in Norfolk, the last two at the very last moment, you have to understand how apprehensive we were in the 8th and 9th last night. Even with a three-run lead, the Bulls are completely snake-bitten in Harbor Park this year. They could easily lose this one. But they didn't. Nevertheless, Steve Geltz did start his appearance in the 8th with two walks before getting two K's.

Austin Pruitt had one of his best nights of the season. Certainly it was the most strenuous at 106 pitches. Jaff Decker announced his return with a home run. Jake Goebbert, at first base after a long stretch in left field, got his seventh. Mayo Acosta, he of the .098 batting average, dropped a single over second base and got his third RBI of the season.


The Bulls are coming back to face the Syracuse Chiefs, the Washington Nationals farm team. The Chiefs are in last place in the six-team North Division. [standings] This is just about as even a matchup as we've seen, not that it's a matchup of strengths. The Chiefs are 13th place in batting average and OPS. The Bulls are in 14th in both categories. The Bulls do have an edge in pitching, though, being right at the mid-point in the IL while the Chiefs are in 12th place.

click for larger view

Road to .500 Update

As mentioned a while back, given the way the South Division of the International League is shaking out, a team that can establish a .500 average has a shot at winning the division. Here's how the Bulls are doing on that path, using mid-season as a start point. They need to pick it up a bit. Sixty games are left on the schedule. The Bulls need to win 35 of those 60 games to get to .500.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Bulls 0-2 in Norfolk. Sigh! But Braves to Bragg

Game 82, June 30, Harbor Park, Norfolk, Virginia
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 4
Norfolk Tides (Baltimore Orioles): 5
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot

Game 83, July 1, Harbor Park
Durham Bulls: 1
Norfolk Tides: 2
Season: 36-47; Trip: 2-3
Wrap, Box, Virginian-Pilot

The Norfolk Tides may have the worst won-lost record in the International League, but they are a better team than the Bulls. Too bad that with this extremely bizarre schedule for 2016 the Bulls play them so many times.

Two painful losses. So let's talk about something else.

Outside the game —

  • Taylor Motter, who's been up with the Rays for a while, got into last night's game against Detroit — as a pitcher.
  • Jaff Decker cleared waivers and will be coming back to Bulls.
  • The Montgomery Biscuits get a lengthy article in the most recent issue of The Bitter Southerner. Interesting that, unless I missed something, not once in the entire article are the Tampa Bay Rays mentioned, nor is there any commentary whatsoever on baseball actually being played. Not sure how the author managed that.
  • Up in Washington, DC a bill has been introduced entitled, "The Saving America's Pastime Act." Turns out that, in some opinions, the whole purpose of the act is to keep minor league ballplayers in poverty.
  • Two women have signed professional baseball contracts. Co-ed baseball has arrived.
  • In a very big deal, a major league ballpark has arisen at Ft Bragg and the Braves and Marlins are scheduled to play tomorrow. A couple of links here and here.