On Sunday, Justin "The Roodge" Ruggiano picked up where he left off the game before, when he hit three home runs to lead the Bulls' 7-0 drubbing of the Gwinnett Braves. He hit a solo homer in the first inning of a game Durham went on to win, 4-3. Ray Olmedo's ninth-inning single scored Matt Joyce with the go-ahead run, making a winner of reliever Randy Choate (2-0), and Dale Thayer pitched around a one-out walk to pick up his fifth save of the year. Matt Joyce and Ray Sadler also homered for the Bulls; all three homers came off of Tommy Hanson, Atlanta's No. 1 prospect, whom the Bulls beat at the DBAP on April 14, although he allowed just one run in 5 2/3 innings that day. Today he was generally effective as well, allowing just the three solo homers in eight otherwise unblemished innings. That's usually good enough to win.
The Bulls will try to make it three of four at Gwinnett today, with a 2 p.m. getaway game before they return to Durham for an eight-game homestand against Louisville and Rochester.
A few notes:
* Other than homering, Ruggiano also struck out twice. He now owns second place in the International League with 32 Ks in 103 at-bats, to go with only 11 walks. If he rights his plate discipline, his home run power will force a major league team to take a look at him again.
* But will that team be the Rays? Matt Joyce is rapidly becoming the outfield prospect of choice in the Tampa system. Over the last 10 games, Joyce is on a tear, batting .410 with three homers, five doubles and six multi-hit games. His season average now stands at .330 with an OPS of .991.
* Dale Thayer's ERA has dropped to 0.56. That probably won't last, but he continues to roll for now. He got a game-ending double play yesterday, and all three balls hit in play off him were grounders.