by Adam Sobsey
The Durham Bulls had such a miserable home losing streak not long ago that for a few days it seemed like they'd never win again. They would, of course, and did, but it's still something of a surprise that, with Tuesday's 4-3 win over Columbus, the Bulls have now won four games in a row. It was the 10th Bulls game in the last 11 decided by two runs or fewer. They maintained their one-game lead over second-place Norfolk.
This was another strong start for Wade Davis, who tossed six solid innings. He allowed all three Columbus runs, but one was unearned thanks to the effects of the second error of the game by first baseman Rhyne Hughes. Hughes also struck out three times, but he did make a savvy play in the last of the sixth, cutting off Matt Joyce's throw after an RBI single to right field by Wyatt Torregas and gunning down Andy Marte trying to advance to third on the hit. That ended the inning and Davis's night. Calvin Medlock threw two scoreless innings and Dale Thayer followed with one of his own to earn his 11th save. All in all, it was an old-fashioned ballgame: timely hitting, good pitching and, except for Hughes, good fielding. And in the usual Durham fashion, another close game. Apparently the Bulls find blowouts boring.
The hitting star of the night was Reid Brignac, who had three doubles (one of which was an end-of-the-bat, opposite-field cheapie). It was Brignac's third straight three-hit game, and it raised his batting average to .302, the highest it's been since May 6. During that time, his average hasn't fallen below .274 and has hovered generally in the .280s; Brignac's consistency has been his best quality. Meanwhile, his on-base average has steadily crept up, and seems to be leveling off at around the .350 mark. If he can keep hitting doubles and mix in the occasional home run, he'll have major-league-ready numbers. While he's in Durham though, his week-to-week steadiness makes him an ideal No. 2 hitter: you always know what you can expect from him.
Matt Joyce added a two-run homer, his eighth. It appears that Joyce is coming out of his post-demotion funk. If that's the case, the Bulls will be an immeasurably more dangerous club. Apparently, though, they're already (still?) formidable. Amazingly, after last night's win, the Bulls find themselves in precisely the same position they were in when they returned home from their last road trip, which preceded a disastrous 1-7 homestand: no matter what happens in Tueday's series-ending, adios-Ohio ballgame at Columbus, they'll come back to the DBAP and start July in no worse than a tie for first place. It's almost as if the season is starting all over again. Here's to new beginnings, and more streaking.