by Mike Potter
They still have a 4 ½-game lead in the International League’s South Division, and are 11-7 on the season at home.
Saturday’s opponent is the Pawtucket Red Sox, who have traditionally been the Bulls’ worst tormentors.
The Bulls beat the PawSox in three straight games to win the Governors’ Cup in 2003, but
Pawtucket has the winningest record of any IL team against the Bulls. The PawSox are 55-40 all-time against Durham including a 30-19 record at DBAP.
My theory has always been that the Red Sox affiliates are built to play in a park containing something like Durham’s Blue Monster, 32 feet high at the 305 mark at the left-field foul pole.
Pawtucket hasn’t been on a roll lately either, coming into the current four-game set on a three-game losing streak. The PawSox’ left fielder is N.C. State alumnus Aaron Bates.
The rains apparently chased the Bulls down in Durham, but they may have washed away their offensive woes as well since the game is suspended with the home team up 5-0 and nobody out in the bottom of the second. And we move to Sunday, where things get much, much worse for the visitors as Durham wins 18-1. In the second game, three Pawtucket pitchers combine for a two-hitter as the visitors win 1-0.
Dan Johnson finishes with a grand slam, a two-run homer and a single among a park-record eight RBI for the Bulls in the opener, in which Durham oddly never sends more than nine men to the plate in one inning.
The Bulls outhit the visitors 17-7. Joe Dillon adds a pair of doubles and a single for three RBI, while Elliot Johnson chips in three hits including a double with an RBI.
Dusty Brown and Lars Anderson lead Pawtucket with a double and a single apiece.
Richard De Los Santos (3-2) is the winning pitcher for the Bulls with five solid relief innings. Boof Bonzer (0-2), who gives up seven earned runs in the first inning and takes the loss.
The second game is a “Negro League Night” promotion with the Bulls dressed in white and the PawSox in grey replicas of the old Negro American and Negro National Leagues and associated teams, giving the contest the appearance of an all-star game.
More rain comes, as there’s a 92-minute delay in the middle of the second with no score.
The PawSox take a 1-0 lead with two out in the fifth, as Gustavo Molina rips a 1-1 offering from R.J. Swindle over the “Blue Monster” wall in left for his team’s second hit of the game.
Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo is ejected at the end of the fifth inning following an animated discussion over balls and strikes.
And that’s where it ends as the Bulls leave runners stranded on first and second when Fernando Cabrera gets a called third strike on Jose Lobaton.
The Bulls finish with two hits and Pawtucket three in the regular game.
They said it …
Bulls skipper Charlie Montoyo: “The beauty of baseball is that you can score 17 or 18 runs
and only one in the next game. I’m kind of disappointed because we pitched very well. We’ve been too inconsistent with our hitting lately — hot, cold, hot, cold. We’ve not been getting enough good at-bats.
I’m happy we won the first game. We swung the bats great. But I’m disappointed in the second game. … Their pitchers did a good job. Give them credit.”.”
Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo: ““This is a quality ballclub we’re playing against, and we got muscled around and overmatched any way you want to look at it in the first game,” Pawtucket manager Torey Lovullo said. “For us to come back and win 1-0 against this kind of ball club when we were short on pitching, I’m really proud of these guys. It was a pretty special effort.”
Dan Johnson: “We had 17 hits in the first game, (and) then in the second game we got one of their bullpen guys and he was throwing really well. We couldn’t figure him out. It was a seven-inning game and that was another thing, which makes it a different style.”
What does it all mean?
That the teams are right back where they started at the beginning of the day, except that the Bulls lost have a game off their lead in the IL’s South Division.
Stars of the day
1. Dan Johnson.
Play of the day
Desmond Jennings’ leaping grab at the wall of Josh Reddick’s long fly ball with two out in the seventh inning of the opener.
Durham: Lost 1.
Pawtucket: Won 1.
Pawtucket at Bulls, 7:05 p.m.
Kris Johnson (L, 3-2, 5.03) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (R, 6-2, 2.34)