by Mike Potter
And despite the dropoff in attendance that’s certain to occur over the early weekdays, “Matsui mania” is still alive and well. Japanese slugger Hideki Matsui will be in his seventh game as a Bull after going 1-for-3 with a sac fly and a mad dash from first to score a run on Sunday against the Charlotte Knights..
Matsui’s entourage of 35 Japanese media is still in the house, and will be remaining as long as the one nicknamed “Godzilla” is still on the Bulls roster. He’s hitting .143 with three RBI but is still seeking his first homer for Durham.
Meanwhile the Knights roster has plenty of familiar faces, as Duke alum Jim Gallagher and former Bulls Hector Gimenez, Dan Johnson and Ray Olmedo are all in the lineup tonight.
The Bulls will send Lance Pendleton (1-1, 4.15) to the hill against Charlotte’s Charlie Leesman (3-4, 2.59).
Matsui gets his biggest hit as a Bull, driving home the winner with one out in the 10th as Durham prevails 3-2 in 10 innings.
Charlotte takes a 1-0 lead in the third as Gallagher walks and later scores on Dallas McPherson’s bases-loaded grounder to first.
The Bulls tie it in the fifth off Deunte Heath. Juan Miranda walks, then goes third when Cole Figueroa hits a bouncer to the mound and Heath fires the ball into center field. Jesus Feliciano’s one-out fly ball to left scores Miranda.
The Bulls score a go-ahead run in the eighth. With one out, Feliciano walks and takes second on Matt Mangini’s single to left center. Leslie Anderson then hit a grounder to second, with Mangini out before shortstop Olmedo fires the ball into the Bulls’ dugout to score Feliciano.
Charlotte ties it in the ninth off Brandon Gomes, as Jimenez walks with one out and scores on Jordan Danks’ double to right center.
Then the magic happens in the 10th. With Anthony Carter on the mound Feliciano doubles to right. After Mangini draws an intentional walk, Matsui comes up with one out and lines a solid single into right to score the speedy Feliciano.
Pendleton gets the quality start in the no-decision, going six innings and allowing one run on four hits with four strikeouts against three walks. Brandon Gomes (2-0) gets the victory along with the blown save.
In Bulls transactions Monday, the Tampa Bay Rays designated pitcher John Gaub for assignment and sent catcher Jose Lobaton to Durham on major league rehab.
They said it …
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “It was almost like perfect timing, and that was a beautiful line drive that he hit, yeah. I had that feeling and you’ve got to have some feelings in the game. After they walked Mangini, I figured with Anderson and Matsui coming up I liked our chances. Our pitching was great. Every time we win it seems like we got good pitching. We’re playing good, and it’s all because the pitching is giving us a chance. And Feliciano needs ink. That guy makes things happen.”
Matsui: “Given the circumstances we were in, I’m just happy I was able to get the hit and help the team win. Whenever one is in a situation like that, there’s sort of a natural excitement that raises you up. There’s a lot of young talent and a lot of potential. I’m honored to be part of this group here. Everybody has been really great. There are a bunch of good guys here.”
Pendleton: “I was in a better rhythm. My last outing wasn’t so good with six walks. I was happy to limit the damage in a couple of outings and tonight was better. Matsui has energized us just a little bit in a sense – not that he’s a big talker, but he’s a big leaguer and he’s down here with us in the trenches trying to get better. Having a real big leaguer on the team is fun.”
What does it all mean?
That the Bulls are on a roll at home and that maybe Matsui got the hit that gets his momentum going.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Matsui’s game-winning hit.
Bulls: Won 2.
Charlotte: Lost 2.
Knights lead 6-3.
Bulls (Jim Paduch 2-1, 2.74) vs. Charlotte (Terry Doyle 2-3, 3.66), Tuesday, 1:05 p.m.