by Mike Potter
Charlie Montoyo’s club goes into Wednesday’s contest with a three-game lead in the International League’s South Division, but is also currently on a four-game losing streak.
Responsible for half of that is tonight’s opponent, the Toledo Mud Hens, who not only spoiled the “Return to the DAP” game Monday night but also Game 2 in the series here last night.
It’s mostly cloudy at first pitch, as Richard De Los Santos takes the hill against the Mud Hens’ Enrique Gonzalez. De Los Santos is solid for 5 1/3 innings and the Bulls outhit the visitors 13-8 en route to a 5-2 win.
There’s an odd incident in the bottom of the first inning, as the Mud Hens fire a gaggle of water balloons at Wool E. Bull, which cause the mascot to take an awkward fall and injure his left knee.
Sources say that leads to a retaliation from Bulls management, which had ordered a large quantity of complementary steaks for the Mud Hens club house to atone for Monday night’s snafu which had left the team waiting in its DBAP clubhouse for its ride to historic Durham Athletic Park and delayed the start of the game. The free steaks are delivered to the Bulls’ clubhouse instead.
The Bulls take the lead in the first, as Elliot Johnson reaches on a one-out bunt single, moves over on a Joe Dillon single to left and scores on Hank Blalock’s single to left.
Toledo ties it in the third as Maxwell Leon singles with two out and later scores on Jeff Larish’s single to center.
But the Bulls get a big inning in the fourth. Dan Johnson leads off with a double to right, and then Ryan Shealy follows by blasting a 1-0 offering onto the berm in center. Chris Richard continues the rally with a single to left center and scores on Angel Chavez’ double to center that makes it 4-1.
The Mud Hens get a leadoff homer from Jeff Frazier in the sixth, but the Bulls take the lead back to three when Chavez blasts a two-out, 2-0 pitch into the seats in right.
De Los Santos allows just two runs on five hits with five strikeouts against two walks in his stint.
They said it …
Bulls skipper Charlie Montoyo: “Wool E.’s going on the D.L. He’s day-to-day. We’ll see how long it takes him to get back. Our pitching was great tonight. For the first time in a while we had the lead. De Los Santos did an outstanding job. He’s keeping everything down and keeping the hitters off-balance. He’s earned a spot in the rotation. I thought we swung the bats good. And they’ve got good pitching — it seems like everybody out of their bullpen throws 90-something.”
Shealy: “I got a 1-1 curveball. I was trying to hit something hard to the right side to get Dan over to third, and it worked out great for everybody. (Gonzalez) had some real good stuff early, but he just started leaving the ball over the plate and we got to him a little bit. We definitely needed to get back on track tonight and it was good to have a full team effort. De Los Santos gave us a great start.
De Los Santos: “My outing was good. I had a good two-seamer. I love starting. I was really comfortable. We needed the win. I like starting because it gives me more chances to develop as a pitcher.”
What does it all mean?
That at least for one night the Bulls seem to have their mojo back.
Stars of the game
1. De Los Santos.
Play of the game
Toledo leads 2-1.
Durham: Won 1.
Toledo: Lost 1.
Durham: RHP Jeff Bennett released.
Toledo: IF Ryan Raburn assigned from Detroit. RHP Alfredo Figaro promoted to Detroit.
Toledo at Bulls, 7:05 p.m.
TBA vs. Carlos Hernandez (L, 2-1, 2.73)