by Mike Potter
DBAP/DURHAM The Durham Bulls play their first game of the post-Desmond Jennings area tonight against the Toledo Mud Hens, with their three-game winning streak and first-place spot in the International League’s South Division on the line.
John Matulia (.192, 2 HR, 7 RBI in 9 games) has taken over for Jennings as the leadoff man in center field. Veteran Bulls shortstop and erstwhile crowd favorite Reid Brignac has yet to report, and by rule does not have to appear until the upcoming series with Gwinnett.
Everybody in the Bulls’ lineup contributes in a 9-2 win, giving Durham a one-game lead over second-place Gwinnett.
Toledo goes up 1-0 in the second inning, as Casper Wells launches a one-out, 1-0 pitch over the Blue Monster wall in right.
But the Bulls rally for two in the bottom of the frame. With one out, Leslie Anderson and Daniel Mayora stroke back-to-back singles before Ray Olmedo rips a two-run triple to right.
Toledo shortstop Argenis Diaz and manager Phil Nevin are ejected in the third inning after the Bulls turn a flashy 6-4-3 double play.
And Durham stretches it to 3-1 in the bottom of the frame as Brandon Guyer walks and scores on a passed ball.
Toledo halves the lead with two out in the sixth on Wells’ second homer.
But the Bulls put the game away with five runs in the seventh. Nevin Ashley hits a one-out single to chase Weber, and then J.J. Furmaniak greets Ryan Perry with another single. Matulia hits an RBI single before Guyer walks to chase
Perry and bring on Matt Hoffman. Felipe Lopez adds a two-run double, followed by a walk to Dan Johnson. Brendan Wise relieves Hoffman with two out, and then Mayora makes it 9-2 with a two-run single.
Matulia has three hits and an RBI for Durham, while Mayora adds the double and single with an RBI and Furmaniak two hits.
Torres gets the quality start, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing two runs on seven hits with five strikeouts against four walks.
Wells’ two homers and a single lead the Mud Hens.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “Torres pitched well and gave us a chance. Wells is just hot right now and you can tell by watching him. If he throws strikes he’s going to get people out because he’s got good stuff. Matulia is doing well — so far, so good. Olmedo is a good clubhouse guy, a big-league shortstop. He’s good around any team. He’s clutch, too.”
Torres: “I felt good out there. I thought I had good fastball command and my breaking pitches were working well when I needed them. I just tried not to think about the heat, and to be prepared for any situation. I was able to throw the strikes to get outs.”
Olmedo: “I need to do something, bro. I’ve got to help my team and I have about two months to get 20 RBI. Torres did a great job tonight. Sometimes he missed his spot, but that’s part of the game. You just have to throw strikes and that’s what the game is about.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls are dominating the Mud Hens pretty easily, and just need to keep their momentum up before Gwinnett comes to town on Tuesday.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Bulls lead 5-1.
Bulls: Won 4.
Toledo: Lost 2.
Bulls (Andy Sonnanstine 0-1, 4.50) vs. Toledo (Ni Fu-Te 5-0, 3.20)