by Adam Sobsey
The Bulls beat Lehigh Valley, 6-2, at Coca-Cola Field yesterday to take three of four from the IronPigs this weekend. That was also the score of the Bulls' win in the first game of the series, so the Bulls must be sleeping well in their motel rooms in Rochester, NY, content with their symmetrical victory. The Bulls play the Red Wings less than twelve hours from now in a Memorial Day afternoon tilt. Carlos Hernandez, coming off his best start of the year, takes the mound for Durham. If the Red Wings' rotation hasn't changed, the Bulls' hitters will enjoy seeing Jason Jones again today. They teed off on him last Tuesday afternoon at the DBAP.
It's remarkable that the Bulls put up six runs against Lehigh Valley yesterday. With Reid Brignac up in Tampa (more on that below) and Chris Richard getting a much-needed day off---one assumes it was scheduled and not injury-related---Durham fielded perhaps its lightest-hitting lineup. The 6-9 hitters are now hitting a combined .216 with a collective OBP under .300 and a combined SLG of .324.
So Charlie Montoyo needed a couple of his boppers to show up, and they did. Justin Ruggiano---OK, we'll call him the Roodge today, despite two more strikeouts---hit a solo home run, and Jon Weber added a three-run job in the top of the ninth to put it away and secure Wade Davis's fifth win. Davis pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed only a single unearned run, although it came via his own error on a pickoff throw. He struck out two and walked two while lowering his ERA to 2.66. Relievers Randy Choate and Joe Bateman decided to make things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with no outs, but despite walking two batters Bateman wriggled out of the jam with just one run scoring.
Newly-acquired infielder Henry Mateo played shortstop and batted second, just as Brignac had been doing before his promotion. Mateo went 0-5 with three strikeouts. Ray Sadler whiffed three times, too. The Bulls fanned 12 times.
Perhaps the biggest Bulls news today came from Florida. Tampa second baseman Akinori Iwamura suffered an apparently severe knee injury when he was taken out by a hard slide while trying to turn a double play against the Marlins. If Iwamura is gone for a while, which seems almost certain, then Brignac will probably stay in Tampa as a reserve infielder unless the Rays decide to go out and get a veteran (do you think they wish they hadn't traded Adam Kennedy?). Brignac had been keeping Pat Burrell's place warm, but with Iwamura out, another Bull may get promoted---probably Matt Joyce or Ruggiano. That promotion, unlike Brignac's, should be a very short one unless yet another Ray is injured. In any case, look for more changes soon in Durham.