Thursday, August 22, 2019

Durham Bulls Season — 11 Games Left — End of the Road?

Yesterday's Games

Charlotte Knights 3, Durham Bulls 0

Gwinnett Braves 6; Norfolk Tides 2



I'm not sure I can continue with this daily update. I confess that what I had hoped, and expected, to do was chronicle the Durham Bulls' rise into the lead of the South Division. Instead, what we've seen is a continuance of the Rays' callous regard for the Bulls and a slide into near-oblivion. These four games against the Knights was their chance, but a team with the 13th worst ERA in the International League has beaten them three games in a row. IL Standings.

It seems to me that the Rays gave up on the Bulls' potential as a team around mid-July. We talked about some of that here. But it has not let up, 15 transactions in the last week.

As a last sad comment, we talked about the importance of run differentials a while ago.

Here's the trend:


By the way, interesting end-of-season race going on the the International League North.


Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Durham Bulls — 12 Games Left


  • Bulls lose 6 of last 7 games. 
  • Sliding out of contention for anything.
  • Opening pitcher goes to 1-5 with an ERA of 8.12. Why is he at AAA?
  • Rehabbing Rays go 0 for 8 at bat
August 20 Results

Charlotte Knights 9; Durham Bulls 3

Gwinnett Braves 1; Norfolk Tides 5


Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Durham Bulls — 13 Games Left

  • Drop a full game in wild card
  • 3½ behind Gwinnett
  • 10 games to go at the DBAP
August 19 Results

Charlotte Knights 13; Durham Bulls 11 — Box

Gwinnett Stripers 5; Norfolk Tides 6


Monday, August 19, 2019

Durham Bulls — 14 Games Left in Season

  • Still tied with Charlotte for the wild card spot.
  • 3½ games behind Gwinnett. 
  • All games till end of season against either Charlotte or Gwinnett
  • 11 games at the DBAP (4 v Charlotte, 7 v Gwinnett)
  • Start with 7 home games, 4 v Charlotte, 3 v Gwinnett
  • Bulls' fate is in their hands.
August 18 Results

Durham Bulls 10; Buffalo Bisons 7 — Box

Scranton/WB 9; Gwinnett Stripers 3
Columbus Clippers 2; Charlotte Knights 2


Note that the IL North race has suddenly gotten competitive. Standings.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Durham Bulls — 15 Games Left

  • Bulls fall into tie for wild card lead. 
  • Last time they were just 12 games above .500 was on June 11, more than 2 months ago. 
  • Team has given up 6 unearned runs in the last two games. 
  • And lost 4 out of 5 on this road trip.
August 17 Results

Durham Bulls 2; Buffalo Bisons 9 — Box

Columbus Clippers 6; Charlotte Knights 7
Charlotte Knights 2; Columbus Clippers 2
Scranton/WB RailRiders 7; Gwinnett Braves 8


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Durham Bulls — 16 Games Left

August 16 Results

Durham Bulls 3; Buffalo Bisons 7

Columbus Clippers 5; Charlotte Knights 4

Scranton/WB RailRiders 2; Gwinnett Stripers 5




Gwinnett increased its lead over Bulls and Knights: Standings

Today: Durham @ Buffalo

Friday, August 16, 2019

Durham Bulls — 17 Games Left

August 15 Results

Durham Bulls 3; Syracuse Mets 5 Box

Columbus Clippers 5; Gwinnett Stripers 2 (7 innings)
Columbus Clippers 5; Gwinnett Stripers 3 (7 innings)
Scranton/WB RailRiders 5; Charlotte Knights 7



Bulls just hanging out, waiting for Knights to catch up.

Today: Durham @ Buffalo

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

End of Season Run: August 13, 2019

Going to start tracking this on a regular basis. See http://www.watchingdurhambullsbaseball.com/2019/08/one-team-will-not-go-to-playoffs.html



1½ game spread. This morning.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Tampa Bay Rays/Durham Bulls and the Failure (Unwillingness?) to Make Memories

A guest post by WDBB friend Chris D ... I completely agree ...

Last week I got to watch the Durham Bulls throw a combined no-hitter. It was their 6th no-hitter in AAA history and no matter what happens from here this season or next, I'll be able to say I was there when it happened. Whatever the win/loss total or playoff results, I have a fun memory from the season.

Fast forward to last night when the Rays were having a fantastic outing from Ryan Yarborough versus the Mariners. As it was an away game, the best the Rays fans could do was watch or listen. As the inning went on and it became apparent that Yarborough might be able to do something a Rays' pitcher hadn't done since 2016, throw a complete game, and a shutout at that. It wasn't a no-hitter, but the sudden excitement of counting down outs was on. When he came out to start the 9th with less than 100 pitches thrown, it looked like it was going to happen.

And then, with 2 outs in the 9th and no one on base, and still not having thrown 100 pitches, the Rays lifted Yarborough for Pagan. He got the final out and the Rays won the game. Looking at some stat sites, the Rays' playoff chances (and let's be realistic it's a wild card chance) moved up from 70% to 72%. The analytical team used analytics to make "the best move". But the fans were left feeling empty.

Shortly after that game ended, I was listening to Patrick Kinas retell the story about when Mike Montgomery was bringing a no-hitter into the 9th inning of a Bulls start back in 2014. Apparently, he ignored his manager, who intended to replace him, and ran back on to the field in the 9th. He got the 1st out and then was promptly removed from the game. Brad Boxberger finished the no-hitter off, but the fans were again left wanting. Kinas continued the story, telling us how this was the "beginning of the end of Montgomery's career in the Rays' system."

As a fan, I just want to put it out there that while I understand winning is the ultimate goal, sometimes the obsession with doing everything the numbers tell you to do, no matter of circumstance, really robs the fun from the game. If the Rays miss the playoffs by 1 game this year instead of 2 or if they lose the 1-game wildcard playoff, I'll have forgotten that in 5 years. If they let Yarborough throw a rare CGS or Montgomery throw a single pitcher no-hitter, I'd remember those for much longer. Maybe it'd pay for management to remember that there are things other than winning that bring fans to the ballpark.

   Chris D

Monday, August 12, 2019

One Team Will Not Go to the Playoffs

Durham – Charlotte – Gwinnett

The Durham Bulls play 20 more games and then the regular season is over. Fourteen of those games are against the Gwinnett Strippers (7, all at the DBAP) and the Charlotte Knights (4 home, 3 away). After today, the Bulls have only one more off day (Aug 29).

Here's how they stand in the International League South. Charlotte has made one heck of a run in recent days, Gwinnett and the Bulls have been pretty static since a run by Gwinnett took them out of first place a couple of weeks ago. A lot can happen over the next three weeks, but it's safe to say that one of these teams is going to win the IL South and go to the playoffs. The South Division winner plays the winner of the West Division. The Wild Card winner plays the winner of the North Division.




The Wild Card, at the moment, is dominated by Charlotte and Durham.



How could this play out?

Obviously, any one of these three teams could make a run. All of them have had big runs this year — the Bulls have had a couple of them.

The big variable affecting each team is how their parent club will be approaching the end of their season.

The Braves (Gwinnett) have a decent lead in the NL East, but you can bet they will do anything to maintain it. Ten players on the Knight's current roster are on the Atlanta 40-man (9 pitchers, 1 catcher).

The White Sox are 12 games below .500 in the AL Central and are well back of the Indians and Twins. The Knights have 9 players on the White Sox 40-man (4 pitchers, 2 catchers (!), and 3 other position players).

The Rays are in an intense fight for an American League Wild Card spot that has a long way to go. The Bulls only have 7 players on the Tampa Bay 40-man, including a couple on rehab/IL (5 pitchers, 1 catcher, 2 position players). However, the Rays are famous for their manipulation of the 40-man. In the short term, after the chaos of the last couple of weeks, things could be quiet. But as we get near the end of the month and September call-up time approaches, expect the Rays to fiddle with the 40-man list (Anthony Banda being a poster child for that situation). The Rays have 8 players (5 pitchers) included on the 40-man in some kind of injured status. That adds to the potential for turmoil on the Bulls' roster as their status changes.

Wish I could say that anyone in the baseball world, other than Patrick Kinas, is keeping us up-to-date on this stuff. But the best we can do is tune in early prior to the game and listen to his update.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

No-Hitter!

Durham Bulls 2, Syracuse Mets 1
Box, Play-by-Play

An exciting game at the DBAP last night. Just looking at the box score does not really give you the flavor of the game. But at the top of the 9th all of us there (smallish crowd — 4,700 paid, maybe 3500 in the stands) knew what was going on pitch-by-pitch. With side-armer Toby Milner striking out the first batter, getting a pop-out to short [edited: thanks Chris], the Syracuse Mets sent in their moose, Travis Taijeron, to pinch-hit (he has 24 home runs this year, the Mets were only one run back). Milner struck him out. Fans cheer on.

But the entire game was much more of a contest that it seems in the stats. Syracuse's Corey Oswalt pitched a brilliant game. Just two pitches got away from him, to Kean Wong in the 1st inning and, a bit later in the 3rd, to Nate Lowe. The Bulls put a fair number of runners on base after that, but none of them scored.

Meanwhile, we saw one of the most unusual defensive alignments of the year. Catcher Mac James was at first, First  baseman Nate Lowe played third base. third Baseman Kevin Padlo played second base, and infielder Kean Wong was in left field. But it all worked out. No errors.

Exciting? Well, in the 5th inning Ricardo Pinto (who got the win) got the first out on a fly ball, then walked Trever Blanco. After getting a K, he then hit Ali Sanchez. Then he balked moving the runners to second and third. All was well, however, when he K'd Braxton Lee.

In the 8th inning, Pinto walked the first batter (Rymer Liriano) and hit the next batter (Ali Sanchez). A sacrifice bunt by Braxton Lee put runners on 2nd and 3rd with just one out. A ground out to short (infield was not drawn in) scored a run. So we had a runner on third and two outs. Rehabbing José Alvarado was called in to pitch to Danny Espinoza. One pitch, grounder to short, inning over. No hits recorded.

In addition to no hits, this had to be one of the most efficient games in recent memory. Starter Arturo Reyes: 3 innings, 36 pitches; Ricardo Pinto: 4⅔ innings, 62 pitches;   José Alvarado: ⅓ inning, 1 pitch (!); Hoby Milner: 1 inning, 14 pitches. Overall pitches per out: 4.18. That's very efficient.

[Note: This is very weird: I seem to be unable to respond to comments on my own blog. Working on it. Chris W]

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Banda Better

Only fair to note that Anthony Banda, mentioned in a recent post, went 4 shutout innings last night, and improved his ERA from 8.68 to 6.08. And the Bulls won!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Ugly Road Trip; Will Turmoil Ever Stop?

We had some fairly negative things to say as the Durham Bulls hit the road last week. The situation has not improved. If anything, it may have gotten worse.

On the road, the Bulls had 4 losses and just two wins, plus a rainout that cannot be made up. All games were against the other three International League South teams. The Bulls left home 1½ games back, they returned home 2½ games back.

The reasons why are pretty obvious.

First would be the sheer turmoil. Remember, this is a team traveling around — to Gwinnett, to Charlotte, and to Norfolk. In the last six days the Bulls have had 17 roster changes. And there's reason to expect more before tomorrow's game.

Then there were some pretty ugly moments. Two starting pitchers didn't make it out of the 1st inning: Rehabbing Anthony Banda gave up 4 runs on 4 hits and two walks in the first ⅔ of the 1st inning against Gwinnett on July 30th (the Bulls lost 6–7) and new guy Peter Fairbanks gave up 3 runs on 2 hits and 3 walks in ⅔ of the 1st inning against Norfolk on August 3rd (the Bulls lost 2–3).

Another newish pitcher, Sam McWilliams, he of a 7.46 ERA, made it through 6 innings, but he also gave up 5 (4 earned) runs on 8 hits and 4 walks. The Bulls lost that game (August 2) as well.

To my surprise, we did not see much of an increase in unearned runs, and the Bulls' batting average didn't change much at all. New guy Kevin Padlo is having a terrific start as a Bull. The Bulls' hole in center field, made when Andrew Velazquez got pushed off the bus, has still not been filled.

By the way, Valazquez is playing with the division-leading Columbus Clippers along with Jake Bauers and Dioner Navarro.

About the only thing good to report is that the Bulls are leading in the wild card, but just by 3½ games over Charlotte.