by Adam Sobsey
In Fort Mill, SC tonight, the Charlotte Knights broke open a close game late, scoring five runs in the seventh inning and adding another in the eighth to win 10-2 and split their two-game series (a de facto home-and-home four-gamer, really). All six of the late runs came off of Bulls' reliever Chad Orvella, a former N.C. State pitcher. Orvella has really struggled lately. Over his last seven innings, spanning four appearances, he has allowed 17 hits and 16 earned runs. His ERA has mushroomed to 8.35, worst on the team. Orvella has thrown 82 big-league innings for Tampa Bay, but missed all of last season after shoulder surgery, so it's tempting to speculate that something is amiss physically.
Starter David Price also struggled. He took the loss, allowing four runs on six hits and five walks -- with, alarmingly, no strikeouts -- in four innings. He threw 79 pitches, according to the official box score, only 39 for strikes. To go by the numbers alone, Price is simply struggling with his control. His season ERA now stands at 4.74. Presumably, he'll be working with Tampa coaches to work on his mechanics. I would be willing to guess that he feels a lot of pressure as the No. 1 pitching prospect in the minors, especially now that he's no longer able to be anonymous in the aftermath of his postseason performance for Tampa last October.
Craig Albernaz started at catcher again, and when he was pinch-hit for tonight, it was recently called-up Alex Jamieson who got the nod (Jamieson struck out). Bulls' frontline catcher John Jaso pinch-hit for Justin Ruggiano and struck out to end the game. Whatever injury Jaso is nursing, it must be something minor but bothersome enough to keep him from catching. Look for Jamieson to be demoted again once Jaso is healthy enough to catch.
The Bulls travel to Gwinnett (GA) to take on the Braves tomorrow. Wade Davis is on the mound for Durham.