by Mike Potter
DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK Saying the Durham Bulls have been going through hard times this season would be quite the understatement.
The five-time defending South Division champions are in last place in the International League, and it’s been a steady progression to get there.
Headed into Game 3 of their four-game home series with a decent Indianapolis Indians club, the Bulls have lost a club Triple-A record 12 straight games. And they’re one loss away from tying the all-time record – that’s going back to that primeval 1902 club, which ended its season a few months before the Wright boys from Ohio had that first successful plane flight down at Kitty Hawk. That ugly 13 was accomplished by that snakebitten 1995 Carolina League club that christened the new park.
Good news for the Bulls is that ostensible ace Alex Cobb (0-2, 4.09) is on the hill. But the bad news against the Durham lineup of eight left-handers is that southpaw Justin Wilson (1-3, 3.97) is pitching for the Indians.
And it turns out to be really bad news. Wilson is part of a combined no-hitter, the first no-no ever against the Bulls at DBAP as Indy wins 2-0 to extend that losing streak to 13.
Indy takes a 1-0 lead in the second as Jake Fox leads off with a double to left, takes third on Nick Evans’ single to right and scores on Jordy Mercer’s double-play ball to second.
The Tribe’s second run is noisier, as Starling Marte launches a one-out, 2-0 pitch over the Blue Monster wall in left.
Cobb is solid throughout his quality start, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on eight hits with five strikeouts and no walks.
Wilson leaves to a hearty round of boos after 7 1/3 shutout innings, having struck out nine against two walks. But the relievers get through it, as massive right-hander Jose Diaz gets the final two outs of the eighth before lefty
Doug Slaten pitches a perfect ninth for his second save in as many days.
Fox finishes with two doubles to aid the Tribe’s eight-hit attack.
Indianapolis manager Dean Trainor: “(The no-no) was a first for a lot of guys here, and you saw that reaction from everybody. We finished it off with a great play at second base. It was tough to go get (Wilson), but (taking him out after his 107th pitch) it was a decision for his future. He wasn’t going to see the ninth inning, so as soon as he walked that guy it was time to get him. I liked his attitude when I got out there. And it’s great to get booed on the road like that. You know you’re doing something good.”
Wilson: “This is my first (participation in a no-hitter) at any level. It was pretty awesome. It was great for ‘Jumbo’ to come in and not give up a hit, and Doug as well. Great defense all around and an outstanding play to end the game. And (catcher) Jose Morales was just outstanding tonight. We knew coming in here that they had a lot of lefties. We thought we’d see a couple more righties in there, but it works for us.”
What does it all mean?
That as far as pure baseball numbers are concerned, this is an historic low point for a franchise that has been one of the most successful in IL history.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Second baseman Anderson Hernandez’ charge of Reid Brignac’s grounder to throw him out and finish the game.
Indianapolis leads 3-0.
Bulls: Lost 13.
Indianapolis: Won 5.
Bulls (Matt Torra 1-2, 6.85) vs. Indianapolis (Jeff Locke 2-1, 3.86), Monday, 1:05 p.m.