Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Durham Bulls Offense Has Best Night of the Year

Game 52, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (New York Yankees): 3
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 5

Season: 21–31; Home Stand: 1–0
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun (No story on their website, guess they took Memorial Day off. Too bad. Missed a good game.)

So there I was grumbling to myself for most of the first 6 innings. The Bulls had wasted a one-out triple by Kyle Roller through awkward baserunning by Roller himself and a caught stealing of Dayron Varona. Starting pitcher Justin Marks was really working hard (he ended the game having thrown 103 pitches in just 3 ⅔ innings). And then in the 6th inning, after a leadoff home run by recently-returned Jake Goebbert, the Bulls left the bases loaded. Meanwhile, back in the 4th the RailRiders had put up three runs.

But then came the 7th as the Bulls got a run off a Jaff Decker sacrifice fly and then the 8th when the Bulls put finishing touches on their best hitting game this year, a one game OPS of 1.061 (see chart below)! A solo home run by Nick Franklin and a two-run homer by Dayron Varona were the innings’ highlights.

Meanwhile the bullpen crew of Markel, Wagner, Farquhar, and Floro, threw 5 innings of shutout ball, closing  down one of the best hitting teams in the International League.

Outside the game (sort of) —
  • As mentioned, Jake Goebbert passed through waivers and is back with the team.
  • Patrick Leonard got sent to the Montgomery Biscuits. Leonard played in 42 games so far this year as a 1st baseman, 3rd baseman, and outfielder. He was hitting just .198, well-below his last year’s performance with the Biscuits. Probably part of larger roster shuffling. Stats.
  • Johnny Field got promoted from Montgomery. Looks to be a pure outfielder and it looks like the 24 year-old has been having a pretty good year so far. Stats.
  • Cameron Seitzer, who has been with the Bulls all year, has been sent to “Extended Spring Training” (probably a paper move). The first baseman is not having a particularly good year with an OPS of just .464. Stats.
  • Early in the game new guy Johnny Field was coaching first base, which got me to wondering, just what is it that hitting coach does during a game? We see the manager and the pitching coach pretty regularly, but not Ozzie Timmons. But then he suddenly showed up, coaching first base. The first time I’ve noticed him there this year. Have I been missing something?
  • Remember Ryan Garton, who made 14 appearances for the Bulls before being called up a few days ago? Turns out he’s part of a new training experiment that the Rays are experimenting with, but also being very close-mouthed about. Something about varying the weights of balls thrown in training. Story here.
  • Dylan Floro got his third save in his third opportunity last night. Has he found his niche?
Here’s that chart I mentioned earlier. Game-by-game OPS scores for the last 15 games. Last night was the best this year.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls Vs. SWB RailRiders

The New York Yankees’ Triple A franchise is the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. The Durham Bulls face a formidable challenge over the next three days. The RailRiders are in first place in the International League North Division. They hit well, pitch well, and have committed only 30 errors this season compared to the Bulls’ 40.

And that’s before we consider the weather, which does not look good. Keep an eye on the stadium camera as the day goes by.

Road Trip Done; Bulls Back Home

Game 50, Huntington Park, Columbus, Ohio
Durham Bulls (Rays): 0
Columbus Clippers (Indians): 3
Wrap, Box

Game 51, Huntington Park, Columbus, Ohio
Durham Bulls: 1
Columbus Clippers: 2
Season: 20–31; Trip: 2–4
Wrap, Box

Three Bulls caught stealing (two as the result of pickoffs) is simply an awful bit of base-running performance by a team that can hardly afford to waste runners who get to base, although they were 0 for 7 for the runners who did get into scoring position.

Adam Wilk pitched a decent game, giving up just two runs and ending up with a nice Game Score of 63, but without run support he picked up his 6th loss.

At 11 games below .500, the Bulls are saved from ignominy only by the even worse won-loss record of the Norfolk Tides who are 16 games below .500. Standings.

Looking at the runs the Bulls score vs the runs they allow, the Bulls are cruising toward 2012 territory, a year the Bulls finished 15 games below .500 and third place in the IL.

Runs scored compared to runs allowed can also be cranked through the Pythagorean Expectation formula, but when you do that with this years' numbers (154 runs scored, 210 runs allowed) it shows that the “expectation” is even worse than the current 11 games below .500. It drops to an expectation of 18-33, 15 games below .500.

click on chart for larger view

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Shutout in Columbus

Game 49, Huntington Park, Columbus, Ohio
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay): 2
Columbus Clippers (Cleveland): 0
Wrap, Box

This was only the second shutout by Bulls pitching this year. The last came on April 13, the 8th game of this season. Jamie Schultz seemed to recover from the rough outing he had in his last game and pitched 6 shutout innings. Parker Markel got his first win as a Bull, in relief. Adam Kolarek faced just one batter in the 9th, gave up a hit, and was replaced by Dylan Floro, who appears to be the Bulls new closer. Floro got his second save of the season, and his career, with just 10 pitches. Shultz and Floro were both involved in the April 13 shutout, as was Tyler Sturdevant, who had a clean inning against the Yankees last night.

All of the Bulls' runs were scored off a Nick Franklin double that brought in pinch-running Patrick Leonard and Daniel Robertson. Tim Beckham had a nice day back at shortstop by starting a key double play in the 9th and fielding a grounder for the last out.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs. Columbus Clippers

The Cleveland Indians’ Triple A team is on a 3-game losing streak. On the other hand, they have the best record in the entire International League and are 2 games ahead of their nearest West Division rival, the Louisville Bats.

This is the team that the Bulls have often faced as their key West Division rival. Statistically, the Bulls do not match up well at all on the hitting side of things. Pitching a bit more even.

Three in Toledo; Roster Turnover

Game 46, May 24, Fifth Third Field, Toledo, Ohio
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 0 
Toledo Mud Hens (Detroit Tigers): 5 
Wrap, Box, Toledo Blade
Note: 8th shutout; RISP: 0 for 11

Game 47, May 25
Durham Bulls: 5 
Toledo Mud Hens: 3 
Wrap, Box

Game 48, May 26
Durham Bulls: 4 
Toledo Mud Hens: 5 
Wrap, Box
Season: 19–29; Trip: 1–2

Blake Snell bookended himself, giving up two runs after the first out of the first inning and then, after the game was tied, giving up two walks in the 6th, both of whom scored. Still, the game turned on all the runners left on base. Eight Bulls came to bat in the 4th inning, only two scored. In the 6th runners were left on second and third base. Newcomer Steve Geltz had a perfect inning.

  • Rehabbing Brad Boxberger moved on to Montgomery 
  • Bulls reliever Ryan Garton got put on the 40-man and called up. Congratulations! 
  • Infielder, and frequent Durham Bull in previous years, Tim Beckham, got sent down. Should show up soon. 
  • Jake Goebbert, who got off to a rough start this year, has been designated for assignment (he was on the disabled list).

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Matchup: Durham Bulls vs. Toledo Mud Hens

The Toledo Mud Hens are the second-most famous team in minor league baseball. That distinction may be fading as those of us who spent the 1970's watching M*A*S*H and Jamie Farr's character Max Klinger try to figure a way to get out of the Army while sometimes wearing Mud Hens gear pass on. Meanwhile folks are still watching Bull Durham. (At least I am. Don't you watch it at once a year?).

The Detroit Tigers AAA franchise is in last place in the International League West Division, 7.5 games behind the Columbus Clippers. Their stats reflect an early season oddity for numbers geeks. According to their Pythagorean Expectation, they "should" have a won-loss record of 22-20, much better than what they've got. The Bulls, by the way, "should" have a won-loss record much worse than what they've got, 16-29. Bottom line: the Mud Hens score a lot of runs. That, unfortunately, matches well with the Bulls tendency to allow a lot of runs.

Monday, May 23, 2016

9th Inning Loss

Game 45, May 22, Durham Bulls Athletic Park
Rochester Red Wings: 3
Durham Bulls: 2
Season: 18-27; Home Stand: 1-4
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Austin Pruitt pitched a terrific game. Too bad it dribbled away in the top of the 9th as the Bulls had yet another losing home stand. As noted in yesterday’s chart, the relief crew is a large part of the problem with this year’s Bulls.

J.P. Arencibia had his first game with the Bulls and looked fine. He even came through with an RBI single off the wall. His several visits to Neil Wagner in the 9th did not solve whatever the problem was.

Outside the game —
  • The Rays have their own problems in the bullpen with the result that they are swapping Steve Geltz for the Bulls’ Tyler Sturdevant.
  • We sure liked Geltz when he was with the Bulls in 2013 and 2014. He had stunning WHIPs of .881 and 1.056 in those seasons. He had a very good year with the Rays in 2015 and maybe their thinking is that he needs some time with the Bulls pitching coach to get back on track. Stats.
  • This will be Sturdevant’s first trip to the big leagues. Good Luck!
  • Pretty sure that the Rays will have to kick someone off their 40-man roster to make room for Sturdevant. No word that I’ve seen. The Bulls are short one player on their roster.
  • Interesting thinkpiece on the Tampa Bay Rays by Time Bay Times writer Mark Topkin.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

One-Man Home Run Show; Not a Bull

Mikie Mahtook, showing off Bull City Blue uniform before call-up.
Photo courtesy Durham Bulls

Game 44, May 21, DBAP
Rochester Red Wings: 12
Durham Bulls: 2
Season: 18-26; Home Stand: 1-2

First of all, let us stipulate that Rochester’s Adam Walker can hit a baseball, especially in the general direction of the Bull. He’s done so five times in the last three games, including three times last night. Yes, he does strike out a lot, but here in Durham he’s held that to just 4 times. The crowd even acknowledged his performance last night with a nice round of applause on his third home run.

Then, let us also note that Jamie Schultz had a horrible night. Schultz is having a decent season, but his 3⅓ last night was awful. (included two of the Walker homers). Brad Boxberger made a relief appearance (and gave up Walker’s third homer). 

The Bulls hitters were not a lot of help with their 17 K’s, their season-worst performance. About the only hitter to do well was outfielder Mikie Mahtook who was 2 for 2 until …

In our part of the stands a buzz started in about the 3rd inning. Former Bull Kevin Kiermaier, Tampa Bay’s spectacular center fielder, had broken his hand. Several folks were tapping away at their phones. I was regretting that the battery on my radio had died and I couldn’t follow Kinas’ commentary. But soon it became clear enough. In the top half of the inning Richie Shaffer, playing third base, came running toward the dugout asking for a different glove. He was handed one and headed out toward right field, sending Mikie Mahtook in. Here’s the neat part — a fair fraction of the fans knew what was happening — Mahtook was headed to the Rays and we were happy for him — a cheer went up as he went into the dugout. Juniel Querecuto took Shaffer’s place at third base and the game went on.

Outside the game — 
  • Misty rain through the first couple of innings and a nice rainbow stretched out through the eastern sky. 
  • For more on Kiermaier’s injury see the video at Rays Index and comments at the Rays site.
  • The Bulls introduced their fancy blue uniforms last night (see photo at top) and I have to admit that I like the look, with the exception of the slightly ugly awkward looking orange belts. And I have to point out that if you're going all "designer" on us, then the shade of blue on the batting helmet should match.
  • We left after the 5th inning and watched the end of the game on TV. Very pleased to see that the HD broadcast is in operation. Looks really good.
Pitching Update

The team ERA was improving until last night. Overall, however, we still see a big spread between the starters and relievers. The Bulls have two relievers on the DL and the help that’s come up from Montgomery hasn’t been. If Gamboa and Bellatti return; if after Boxberger finishes his rehab and goes to Tampa Bay; maybe then.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Snell Looks Good

Game 43, May 20, DBAP
Rochester Red Wings: 1
Durham Bulls: 4
Season: 18-25; Home Stand: 1-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Blake Snell had his best game of the year. He gave up only 3 hits, had 9 K’s, and made it through 6 innings. Kyle Roller had a homer; Daniel Robertson had a rare (for the Bulls this year) sacrifice fly; and third baseman Juniel Querecuto picked up the other two RBI.

The game was started early because of a threat of rainstorms. The rains actually didn’t arrive until later last night but it has been coming down ever since. As of right now (8:22) the tarp is on the field. For advice, check out our views on how to cope with rain, or click the link up at our favorite links list.

Outside the game—
  • J.P. Arencibia was in the locker room yesterday. We should not expect too much from him just yet since his playing time with the Iron Pigs was limited. Stats.
  • Brad Boxberger, a reliable presence in the Tampa Bay bullpen (69 appearances last year), has been rehabbing from a muscle tear all this year. He’s expected to show up in a Bulls uniform today for at least one rehab appearance. He was last with the Bulls for 6 games back in 2014.
Bag Rules

I was wrong. Although the rules have never previously been enforced, there they were on the back of my tickets: “Outside food and beverage prohibited.” I’m told they’ve been announcing at every game that they would start enforcing the rules at this home stand. Guess I wasn’t listening. That does not mean that I’m happy with the decision. I still think I ought to be able to bring in a thermos of coffee on a cold night. But there’s a lot about the 21st century that I don’t much like. Except for Taylor guitars. I like them a lot.

The Tampa Bay Rays are up in Detroit and just went over .500 for only the second time this season.

click for larger image 

Friday, May 20, 2016

J.P. Back to Bulls

J.P. Arencibia, a fun guy to watch last year, has been signed by the Rays and assigned to the Bulls. Carlos Corporan has been released. That means that, unlike last season, we can expect J.P. to be behind the plate a bit more. At least until he can work his way onto the 40-man.

Charlie Came Back; Congrats to #25

Charlie Montoyo, May 9, 2011, "Back to the DAP" night

Game 42, May 19, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina
Rochester Red Wings (Minneapolis Twins): 6
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 3
Season: 17-25; Home Stand: 0-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Charlie Montoyo was back in the park last night, and that was the best part of a mostly misty and cold evening. We liked everything about Charlie — how he managed the team, his success, his obvious devotion to his family and the game. So it was fun to see him recognized by induction to the International League Hall of Fame and, even better, to see his number 25 retired. More herehere, and here.

Later on he sat in with broadcaster Patrick Kinas during a couple of innings and that was fascinating as well.

The game? Well, this was the first time that I’d seen Justin Marks pitch for the Bulls. Until he served up the home run to the Red Wings’ Adam Walker in the 2nd inning on an 0-2 count I thought he looked OK. After that, not so much. In the 5th he gave up another home run to the same guy who’d tripled in the 1st, Max Kepler. So, certainly not the same as having Matt Andriese on the mound.

The Bulls did avoid another shut out with a very nice three run 8th inning.

Bag Rules!

Somehow the new “security initiatives for 2016” buried on the Bulls website eluded me. When the bag that I’ve been carrying to Bulls games for the last several years was searched I got a bit annoyed. Now that I have found the list, I’d suggest a bit more training for the folks on the gate: it doesn’t say a thing about a thermos of coffee (although the gate guard relented and didn’t make me pour it out). And there was certainly more than a hint that the purpose of the search had less to do with security and more to do with food and drink.

And I get that. I admit that the times we’ve brought in the hibachi and our own hot dogs and hamburgers and coolers of our own beer might have been a little over the top.

Still, very annoying, even as I reluctantly admit it was less so than the last time we went into the PNC Arena (or whatever its most recent name is) over in Raleigh.

Chris D said it best in a comment on this blog yesterday: “A solution in search of a problem.”

Outside the game —
  • J. P. Arencibia coming back to Durham? Mark Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times thinks so.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Durham Bulls Visiting Durham

Today the Bulls start a four-game stand against the Rochester Red Wings, the Minnesota Twins Triple A team. Then they get kicked out of the DBAP so a couple of local amateur teams can ring the rafters with their metal bats—Ding! Ding! Ding! That is, the ACC tournament guys get to chew up the turf.

Meanwhile the Bulls will be touring Ohio, first in Toledo against Detroit’s Mud Hens and then in Columbus against Cleveland’s Clippers. 

Rochester is having a decent year. They are just a ½ game out of first place in the North (Standings). They lead the Bulls in the categories listed here. But that doesn’t mean all that much — so does everyone else in the league. 

Charlie Montoyo’s back in town tonight, for his induction to the International League Hall of Fame. Come early to wish him well.

Otherwise, lots of stuff going on for the non-baseball fans in the park and even for the regulars with the Long Haul Bombers putting on a show Saturday.

Lastly, if you're unhappy with the Rays, you are not alone. Check out what a Biscuits blogger has to say about them.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Bulls Headed Back

Game 29, Coolray Field, Lawrenceburg, Geogia
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 1
Gwinnett Braves (Atlanta Braves): 4
Wrap, Box

Game 30, Coolray Field
Bulls: 5
Braves: 3
Wrap, Box, Gwinnett Daily Post

Game 31, Coolray Field
Bulls: 2
Braves: 4
Season: 17-24; Trip: 2-4
Wrap, Box

To call this a disappointing trip would be an understatement. Statistically the team showed very little improvement in any area. The Bulls are 13 of 14 on three key hitting stats (OBP, SLG, and OPS) and 14th on the other, batting average. They have committed more errors than any other team in the International league (38). Opponents have scored 23 unearned runs (2 today). The relievers as a crew are well-above league average ERA (not a good situation). Only the starters are looking OK, and there’s some work to be done there if the team is to improve.

The season is young, but at 41 games the 25% mark has been reached.

Plus, after leaving the Bulls alone for most of the season, the Rays are starting to play around with the roster. For example, Danny Farquar is back. But that wasn’t necessarily a good thing as he took the loss in game 39. Infielder Juniel Querecuto [stats] came up from Montgomery. He picked up his first error today and got a gift from the scorer yesterday when he dropped a ball but scorer didn't count it. Mayo Acosta was sent to Hudson Valley to make room. Probably a paper transaction.

Is there any good news out there? Well, baseball is back in Durham for a few days before taking off to Toledo. Maybe something will sort itself out.

We note that J.P. Arencibia has been released by the Phillies (looks like he had an opt-out). That would add some spice to either the Rays or the Bulls.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Roster Moves, a Couple of Losses, DJ Still in the Game

Game 36, May 13, BB&T Ballpark, Charlotte, North Carolina
Durham Bulls (Rays): 3
Charlotte Knights (White Sox): 8
Wrap, Box

Game 37, May 14, Charlotte
Bulls: 7
Knights: 4
Wrap, Box

Game 38, May 15, Charlotte
Knights: 5
12 innings
Season: 16-22; Trip: 1-2
Wrap, Box

After a brief Bulls 1-run lead in the 1st, Blake Snell gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the inning. He seemed OK for the rest of his 5 innings. Then the Bulls uncharacteristically had a comeback moment in the top of the 9th and went ahead 4-3. However, Mark Sappington walked two batters (he did have a K in there) for his part of the 9th. Manager Jared Sandberg wisely(?) replaced him with Tyler Sturdevant who got the second out before walking the next two batters force in the tying run (which was charged to Sappington).

We had to wait until the bottom of 12th inning for the game to be over, although there was a high /low point in the top of the 11th when pinch-runner Patrick Leonard got picked off first base. Nevertheless, in the 12th a single, sac bunt, stolen 3rd base, and wild pitch by Parker Markel ended it all.

Bulls are now in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where they will play the Gwinnett Braves tonight.

Outside the game (playing a little catchup) —

  • Jhan MariƱez won’t be coming back. After being DFA’d by the Rays, the Brewers picked him up. Bad news for the Bulls. He had a stellar 2015 for the team with an astonishing ERA of 1.92 in 61 innings, over 45 games. Good luck with Milwaukee!
  • Mikie Mahtook is off the disabled list (3 for 11 in last 3 games) and Jake Goebbert went on the disabled list.
  • Danny Farquar got called up, but was then Designated for Assignment (don’t ask me how that works).
  • RHP Neil Wagner, who started the season on the DL, got called up to Bulls after a few innings at Port Charlotte. 32 years old. Has not pitched regularly since 2013 (injured in 2014). Stats. He pitched 1⅓ innings on Saturday.
  • Taylor Motter was called up to the Rays on Saturday. Good luck!
  • Remember Dan Johnson? Well, he’s still playing baseball—a little bit of 1st base and he’s still working on his knuckleball — in an indy league. Good story about the impact of a torn fingernail on prowess of a knuckleballer. [Tnks to DRaysBay for pointing out the link.]
  • Blake Snell is the only healthy pitcher with the Bulls who is on the Rays 40-man.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Treading Water

Game 34, May 11, DBAP
Bisons: 2
Bulls: 3
Wrap, Box Herald-Sun

Game 35, May 12, DBAP
Bisons: 3
Bulls: 0
Season: 15-20; Home Stand: 3-4
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

A couple of days ago we pointed out that the Bulls had been shut out 4 of their last 8 games. Now it’s 5 of the last 10.

During the entire 7 game home stand the Bulls only scored 19 runs, which sounds OK until you realize that 13 of those runs were scored in two games. True, the Bulls opponents only scored 24 runs, so the Bulls were mostly competitive.

Of course, this sort of season is much tougher on the players than the fans, but it is hard to watch. Even the Herald-Sun sounds discouraged at the link above.

Outside the game —
  • Charlie Montoyo is coming back to the DBAP on May 19 for his recognition as new member of the International League Hall of fame.

Charlotte, the Bulls next opponent, has moved into first place in the IL South Division. Norfolk has had a 7-game losing streak, while Charlotte is on a 5 game winning streak. Standings.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Tale of Two Throws

Game 33, May 10, DBAP
Bisons: 2
Bulls: 1
Season: 14-19; Home Stand: 2-3
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Blake Snell gave up a home run on his third pitch of the game. The Bulls got the run back in the bottom of the inning. And that was about it until near the end of the game.

In the bottom of the 8th a perfect throw from Bison right fielder Domonic Brown caught Taylor Motter out at home for the third out of the inning.

In the top of the 9th a perfect throw from Bulls right fielder Richie Shaffer was a moment too late to catch the Bison’s Junior Lake as he scored what turned out to be the winning run.

We also got to see Lefty/Righty Pat Venditte pitching in relief, both left-handed and right-handed. We put up a couple of videos about him last year. Note at that link that back then Scott Diamond was pitching for the Bulls. Tonight Diamond is pitching for the Bisons.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shutouts: The 50% Line

Game 32, May 9, DBAP
Buffalo Bisons (Toronto Blue Jays): 3
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 0
Season: 14-18; Home Stand: 2-2
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

In the struggle to find something interesting to say about last night’s game, it turns out that the Bulls have been shut out in 4 of their last 8 games. That might be interesting, but not very rewarding.

But there is the performance by new guy Justin Marks, who actually did a very good job. He just let a couple of batters in the 1st inning get away from him. And he was certainly helped by some fine infield play, three double plays. Plus we got to see two nice plays on throws from the outfield. He was followed by Dylan Floro who had one of his best outings, and certainly better than the 5 run (3 home run), 1⅓  inning disaster from a couple of days ago.

But the hitting — not so good in this game (2) or in this season. The “Mendoza Line” is a tongue-in-cheek reference to below standard hitting, i.e., a batting average of .200. The Bulls have 4 players below the line and two right on it. Note that Mikie Mahtook has been on the DL for the last couple of weeks. Also note that the Rays have three hitters below the line and one on the edge.

Bulls Batting Averages

click on chart for larger view

Monday, May 9, 2016

Even More Baseball

Game 31, May 8, DBAP

Norfolk Tides: 1
Durham Bulls: 3

13 Innings
Season: 14-17; Home Stand: 2-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

The two hitters with the worst batting averages in the Bulls lineup, Jake Goebbert (.160) and Carlos Corporan (.180), each hit crucial home runs. And the Bulls seem to have fallen in love with the DBAP (at least they’re spending a lot of time there).

They played 10 innings on Friday, 11 innings on Saturday, and 13 last night. They have used 13 pitchers, including reserve catcher Mayo Acosta who got the win last night.

Until the Bulls got the win, the story line from last night was going to be how all the Norfolk runs were unearned. The error plague that has created problems for the Bulls all year was continuing. However, after the Tides got their 4th unearned run in the 11th, Goebbert contributed his first home run of the year to re-tie the game at 4-4. Having run out of pitchers, Mayo Acosta came on in the 13th and even got a K in his first appearance as a pitcher since 2014 when he put in 3 innings in similar circumstances. Then Carlos Corporan hit his first homer of the year to bring in Patrick Leonard for the walk-off win.

Parker Markel arrived from Montgomery just in time to put in three innings. Stats. That’s two new pitchers for the Bulls in the last two games.

After not calling for an intentional walk all year, Jared Sandberg has called for 3 over the last 5 games.

Outside the game —
  • Matt Andriese had a terrific winning start with the Rays. Wonder if he’s going to stick up there?
  • Which is a problem for the Bulls because backup starter Eddie Gamboa just went on the disabled list (did not hear why) and the reason Austin Pruitt only pitched three innings on Saturday was that he developed a blister on his finger.
  • Jhan Marinez has been Designated For Assignment by the Rays. Even if he isn’t claimed by somebody else, that takes a couple of days to sort itself out.
  • The Bulls TV schedule has been published. Based on my look at the streaming from other parks, the Post 50 crew is the best in the International League.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Lot of Baseball

Game 29, May 6, Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham, North Carolina
Norfolk Tides (Baltimore): 9
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay): 7
10 Innings
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

Game 30, May 7, DBAP
Norfolk Tides: 1
Durham Bulls: 2
11 innings
Season: 13-17: Home Stand: 1-1
Wrap, Box, Herald-Sun

A lot of baseball played over these two days, 21 innings worth.

After the complete collapse of the bullpen on Friday, last night the bullpen put in 8 full innings of scoreless ball until Dayron Varona got his walk-off double. In fact, much of the Bulls’ troubles over the last two weeks points back to the relief crew as the updated ERA chart shows.

The Bulls added another left-handed reliever for at least a couple of games. Adam Kolarek is up from Montgomery. Stats. He put in 2 1/3 scoreless innings last night.

Outside the game —
  • Matt Andriese has been called up to the Rays. Supposed to start today.

Nice to see the relief corps’ trend inch down. But it’s still running well-above the league average.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

21 Innings; Runs? Nope.

Game 27, May 3, Victory Field, Indianapolis, Indiana
Durham Bulls: 0
Indianapolis Indians: 1
12 innings
Wrap, Box

Game 28, May 4, Victory Field
Durham Bulls: 0
Indianapolis Indians: 6
Season: 12-16; Trip 2-3
Wrap, Box

The loss on the 27th obscured a terrific start by Matt Andriese, one of the best by any Bulls pitcher this year. Nevertheless, it was mostly an ugly trip after that ugly home stand. Three shutout losses drove the team batting stats down a bit as well.

Today is a day off. Maybe that will help.


An ugly trend. Hitting is said to be contagious. The Bulls need someone to get really sick.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

One to Fourteen

Game 25, May 1, Slugger Field, Louisville, Kentucky
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 0
Louisville Bats (Cincinnati Reds): 3
Wrap, Box, Courier-Journal

Game 26, May 2, Victory Field, Indianapolis, Indiana
Durham Bulls (Tampa Bay Rays): 9
Indianapolis Indians (Pittsburgh Pirates): 2
Season: 12-14; Trip: 2-1
Wrap, Box

Last night was a big change from being one-hit and shut out on Sunday to a 14-hit blowout on Monday. Daniel Robertson led the charge with walk, 2 singles, a double, and a triple (4 RBI). And several more had a multi-hit game: Taylor Motter, Richie Shaffer, and Jake Goebbert.  The only Bull who did not get a hit was returning catcher Luke Maile, who had his first game behind the plate since coming off the disabled list over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Adam Wilk, who had not previously gotten much in the way of run support, got his first win on the year in a 7 inning, 0 earned run outing.

Outside the game —
  • Andrew Bellatti went on the disabled list when Luke Maile came off. Mikie Mahtook remains on the list.
  • The Gwinnett Braves had their roster shredded with three players being called up (including former Bull Reid Brignac) and two or so Atlanta Braves being optioned down. Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

A Win!

Game 24, April 30, Louisville Slugger Field, Louisville, Kentucky
Durham Bulls: 3
Louisville Bats: 1
Season: 11-13; Trip: 1-0
Wrap, Box, Louisville Courier-Journal

Both the wrap and the Courier-Journal stories laud the performance of Durham Bulls outfielder Dayron Varona. Wish that I’d seen the plays. Worth a read.

Then there was Taylor Motter’s 4th home run (he playing third base for just the third time this season). And Kyle Roller’s 3rd homer. (Note that as early as we are in this season, five different players have begun a game at third base for the Bulls—basically every infielder on the roster.)

Jamie Schultz had a great start. His game score of 72 was the best of any Durham starting pitcher since his own 71 back on April 24th. He only let up 2 hits and threw 6 K’s over 6 innings.

Outside the game —
  • Guess we aren’t the only ones upset about home field losses. Check out the Courier-Journal link. Seems that the Bats aren’t doing good at home either.

I like the Game Score stat as a way of looking at starting pitchers and, in context, it gives some indication of the importance of starting pitching. Here are the scores of the last 15 games. The circled scores are the anomalies. They mark scores that were above average, yet the Bulls lost (4 of them) or below average, yet the Bulls won.