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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Bulls (and Balls) Beat Bisons: Persistence and Luck

Posted By on Sun, May 31, 2009 at 11:40 PM

  DBAP/ DURHAM—Before the Bulls beat Buffalo today, 5-2, I had the opportunity to interview Chaim Bloom, the Tampa Bay Rays' Assistant Director of Minor League Operations. Bloom is here on his usual rounds of the Rays' farm teams and training complexes, checking up on the organization's players. He's a young, intelligent Yale alum who told me that he had always wanted to be in baseball operations. He wrote for the esteemed Baseball Prospectus Web site and did internships with a couple of teams before taking one with the Rays, and it didn't take long for him to land a...

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Bulls Braise Buffalo: Turning Japanese?

Posted By on Sun, May 31, 2009 at 11:04 AM

DBAP/ DURHAM---It's getting almost boring, reporting on Carlos Hernandez when he starts for the Bulls. He baffled the Bisons last night for eight innings---the longest start of the year by a Bulls pitcher---and his mates poured on the runs in the middle third of the game. Durham won, 10-2. The big blows were three-run homers by Jon Weber and Ray Sadler, which came three at-bats apart in a six-run sixth. Before I get to the game itself, yet another Bull on the move:...

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bisons Buffalo Bulls in Battle of Bovines

Posted By on Sat, May 30, 2009 at 11:51 AM

DBAP/ DURHAM---I wondered whether mentioning yesterday that Buffalo was the worst team in the league would jinx the Bulls when they returned home to host the Bisons. Sure enough, the visitors trounced the locals, 9-3, last night. The only drama was provided by a swath of dark, apocalyptic storm clouds that passed north of the DBAP during the middle innings and put on an "ooohh/aaahh!" light show. Pop flies gleamed in the stadium lights against this cinematic, final-scene-of-Ghostbusters backdrop. The postgame fireworks were thus anti-climactic for two reasons: first, we'd already gotten our pyrotechnics; second, the onfield excitement had been...

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Paladini is Italian for "champions"; RailHawks swipe victory in the 90th minute

Posted By on Sat, May 30, 2009 at 3:13 AM

WAKEMED SOCCER PARK/ CARY—Yep, I looked it up. Just as I suspected, the word "paladini" is the Italian plural for champion, for medieval hero, for defender of a cause. RailHawks midfielder Daniel Paladini is in brilliant form right now, and when his team needed a goal tonight, he delivered it. In the 90th minute of a 0-0 stalemate against a courageous, if overmatched, Cleveland side, Paladini lined up for a free kick from 30 yards out and to the left of the goal. Prior to taking it, he told center back and team captain Mark Schulte that he would...

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Friday, May 29, 2009

RailHawks to continue feasting at the bottom of the table?

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 2:33 AM

After two frustrating seasons, fans in WakeMed Soccer Park tonight will be excused for some hard-earned self-congratulation—and considering the woefulness of the opponent, the Cleveland City Stars, who are in 10th place with only two goals scored versus 12 allowed, they should expect to see three more points added to the Carolina RailHawks' points column....

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bulls Finish Road Trip on the Double

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 10:20 PM

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="358" caption="The Bulls have owned the Keystone Sack for the last two days."][/caption]The Bulls pounded six doubles today at Rochester to add to the eight they hit yesterday and held on to beat the Red Wings, 8-7. Those 14 doubles over two games represent almost 14% of the team's season total, and they lead the league in the category. They also lead in homers---although, amazingly, they hit none during their two-game doubles barrage---and are second in walks drawn. The win today finished off a 6-2 road trip. The Bulls are now 30-17 and trail Norfolk by 1.5...

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RailHawks roundup: Budnyy, Paladini and Low named to USL team of week

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 4:06 PM

We've been away from the first-place RailHawks for a bit (and away from the Triangle, actually). To put a finer point on it, we've been in New York, we've been in Brazil, we've been distracted by things like European Champions League football (Messi! Eto'o! Xavi! Iniesta! Puyol!).  But we're catching up in advance of Friday night's nationally televised engagement with the Cleveland City Stars at WakeMed Soccer Park. First, we learn, courtesy of Tim Candon, the RailHawks' official blogger, that their opponent in the first round of the U.S. Open Cup will be the USL-2 Richmond Kickers on Tuesday, June...

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It's A Good Thing The Bulls Read This Blog, Vol. 2

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Yesterday I was worrying about the potential suppressive effects of the rash of recent callups to Tampa and assorted injuries on the Bulls' hitting, especially down at the bottom of the order. Before that I had turned an eye to the remaining sluggers in the lineup, noting that they'd have to step it up in order to keep the team in runs. Apparently, the whole team gathered round the old laptop, because last night they pounded out a season-high 17 hits in routing Rochester, 13-2 at Frontier Field. Sure enough, remaining slugger Matt Joyce paced the attack with three doubles...

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Running with the Bulls is getting harder and harder

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Depletion showed its presence in the Bulls' 5-2 loss at Rochester yesterday. According to the Bulls' official game story, sent by broadcaster Neil Solondz when the team is on the road, only one reliever was available last night. Chad Orvella pitched three innings in relief of an inoffensive James Houser (five innings, four hits, three walks, two runs) and apparently faded in the last of them: He gave up a game-winning, three-run homer to the Red Wings' David Winfree. Normally, Orvella wouldn't have been out there for a third frame. Answering a general question I asked him during the last...

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Hurricanes' magical run is done

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 11:30 PM

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 -->   Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 The most unfortunate part of the Carolina Hurricanes' faceplant in the Eastern Conference Finals is that in the grand scheme of the 2009 playoffs, despite their fantastic comebacks and thrilling upset victories, the ‘Canes turned out to be nothing but a skid mark on the padded shorts of the Pittsburgh Penguins on the way to their second straight cup finals berth. But forget that. This postseason was better than Hurricane fans had any right to expect. Midway though the year, it looked as though...

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Pittsburgh completes sweep with 4-1 win over 'Canes

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 11:21 PM

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 --> RBC CENTER/ RALEIGH—Tonight, there was really only pride on the line. The last time a team came back from a 3-0 series deficit was in 1975, and that squad had it easy – no Malkin or Crosby. The ‘Canes played like a team that didn’t want to be swept, but as Maurice said, “it was that kind of night.” Eric Staal’s scoring slump has been one of the major reasons the Hurricanes found themselves in trouble, but it didn’t make a difference tonight. Staal put the ‘Canes on the board a minute...

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Fernando Perez faces the music

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 7:06 PM

Fernando Perez wrote an entertaining post on The New York Times blog about batters choosing their music to accompany their walk to the plate. Who knew Perez loved the theme from The Price Is Right? Or that Evan Longoria favored "Down and Out" by Tantric? Here are some Indy suggestions: Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" for the Rays' Carlos Peña, who ranks No. 2 in the AL with 35 walks this season. Metallica's "Enter Sandman" for San Diego's Brian Giles, who is batting .175. Outkast's "The Way You Move" for the Rays' Carl Crawford, Major League Baseball's leader in stolen bases...

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Oh, to be a Bull again!

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2009 at 11:36 AM

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="330" caption="Five recent Bulls helped the Rays implode last night."][/caption]Somehow the injury- and promotion-depleted Bulls managed to win again yesterday at Rochester, 3-2. John Jaso, Ray Olmedo and Chris Richard all sat with minor injuries (at least, I assume they're minor) so the lineup was once again rather lite---although .634-OPSing Chris Nowak made the difference with an eighth-inning single. Still, the Bulls are going to need more production from the lower third of its order. Without it (i.e. if the injured Jaso and Richard don't return soon), they'll struggle to score enough runs to keep winning at...

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Say goodbye to David Price

Posted By on Mon, May 25, 2009 at 3:07 PM

Thanks, Dave. It's been real. Good luck in Cleveland tonight. Press release here.  ...

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Bulls Beat IronPigs: Bye, Bye, Brignac?

Posted By on Mon, May 25, 2009 at 2:03 AM

The Bulls beat Lehigh Valley, 6-2, at Coca-Cola Field yesterday to take three of four from the IronPigs this weekend. That was also the score of the Bulls' win in the first game of the series, so the Bulls must be sleeping well in their motel rooms in Rochester, NY, content with their symmetrical victory. The Bulls play the Red Wings less than twelve hours from now in a Memorial Day afternoon tilt. Carlos Hernandez, coming off his best start of the year, takes the mound for Durham. If the Red Wings' rotation hasn't changed, the Bulls' hitters will enjoy...

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Richard the Lionhearted! (And More Bulls on the Move)

Posted By on Sun, May 24, 2009 at 3:04 PM

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="244" caption="From Bluefish to Bull: Henry Mateo was signed for today's game"][/caption]Somewhere around the bottom of the eighth inning last night in Allentown, PA, Chris Richard must have heard that Shelley Duncan had hit two more homers for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, raising his league-leading total to 14. Richard may also have been informed that the Bulls, playing by then in a patchwork state of astounding lineup weirdness, were trailing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs by a run. He may even have asked what an IronPig is, and received in return from his teammates blank and helpless stares. So Richard stepped...

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hurricanes blown away, 6-2, at home in Game 3

Posted By on Sat, May 23, 2009 at 11:26 PM

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 --> Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 RBC CENTER/RALEIGH—Home ice didn’t turn out quite the advantage the Hurricanes were hoping for, as they slid into a nearly insurmountable 3-0 series deficit. The Penguins exposed some wide and worrisome holes in the ‘Canes’ defense, easily outplaying the home team en route to a 6-2 win. Bates Battaglia manned the storm siren at the beginning of the game, which was a nice touch, and Hockey Night in Canada host Don Cherry, an icon north of the border, could be seen down on the ice...

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Bulls Fall to IronPigs; Price to Tampa?

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2009 at 11:55 PM

Other than Chris Richard's three-run home run, his 10th---he now has the second most in the International League---the Bulls hitters couldn't do much tonight, and Mitch Talbot got roughed up in a 5-3 loss at Lehigh Valley. Talbot permitted thirteen baserunners in five innings, and was probably fortunate that only a third of them scored. Ten IronPigs were left stranded, and not even Eumaeus could bring them home (there, I'm a book critic). With Reid Brignac gone to Tampa, Ray Olmedo played shortstop, and Joe Dillon took over at second base, a position he had previously played in 62 games...

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Bulls on the Move: Brignac, Thayer to Tampa

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2009 at 2:26 PM

This just in: Bulls' shortstop Reid Brignac and reliever Dale Thayer have been promoted to Tampa. These aren't the two players I might have guessed. The Rays' starting pitching has lately been, other than Matt Garza, awful, and Wade Davis seemed to be the likely candidate to move up with Andy Sonnanstine coming down to Durham (David Price's workload is still too heavily restricted for major-league action). Instead, Tampa chose bullpen help--a bit of a surprise, since Jason Isringhausen was just brought up from Durham--providing at least a circumstantial answer to the question I asked not long ago, "What does...

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Bulls Stick IronPigs, Keep Rolling

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Near the end of my last post I suggested that James Houser (pictured, left) was under a bit of pressure to rebound from his last start, in which he was thrashed by Louisville. He was also taking the hill after a string of four straight sterling starts (that was alliteration: there, I'm a book critic) by his cohort in the Durham Bulls rotation. Result? Houser threw four no-hit innings to start off the Bulls' 6-2 win at Lehigh Valley. The IronPigs play in Allentown, PA, that Billy Joel-famous Rust Belt town that is apparently still so diffident that it prefers...

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Penguins march to 7-4 win, 2-0 series lead

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 11:29 PM

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 --> VERSUS/TV—Cam Ward, who has become almost expected to backstop the ‘Canes to victory after each loss, was lit up for six goals and the ‘Canes went down in flames, 7-4, in Game 2. Each of the upcoming games in Raleigh on Saturday and Tuesday are now must-wins, as a loss would put the ‘Canes on the brink. Carolina picked up the pace in both previous Game 2’s, which were both preceded by blowouts. Perhaps fans should have wished for a 8-1 rout in Game 1, because in the latter two periods,...

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Cole, Ruutu "not likely" for Game 2

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2009 at 2:07 AM

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 --> Finally, some news regarding Carolina’s two hard-hitting wingers. Both players were injured during Game 1, with Ruutu hitting the ice hard after his legs were tangled up just over two minutes into the first period and Cole suffering a knee-on-knee collision in front of his own net in the third. Both were pegged with "lower body injuries" and didn't return. Paul Maurice told the press that Cole and Ruutu would be game time decisions for Game 2 in Pittsburgh, but GM Jim Rutherford was a bit more forthcoming. "It's not likely (Ruutu...

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Carlos, Charlie (and Bulls) in Charge

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 2:38 PM

When the Bulls arrived home on May 12th after a 3-3 road trip to Charlotte and Gwinnett, their record stood at 18-14. That left them just behind Norfolk for the International League South Division lead, but manager Charlie Montoyo's (pictured, left) team had gone just 12-14 since starting the season 6-0. They looked like a team that could go either way. The southpaw phenom David Price had been erratic, and his righty counterpart Wade Davis was having some control issues. The bullpen was superb but so overworked that fatigue threatened to catch up to them later. The hitting was decent...

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After impressive outing, Mudcats' Justin Mallett to Bats

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2009 at 10:15 AM

Mudcats' right-hander Justin Mallett shined on the mound Monday night, despite his team's loss to Jacksonville in the second game of a doubleheader. He looked confident over five innings, striking out six and walking just two. He also  proved he has excellent reflexes—or survival instincts—snagging a sharp line drive drilled back to the mound. Apparently the Reds' brass noticed, and now Mallett is headed upstairs to the Triple-A Louisville Bats, where he was assigned to begin this season. (Question for the Reds: How about giving a break to center fielder and leadoff batter Chris Heisey, the Southern League's No. 2...

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No joy in Mudcatville

Posted By on Tue, May 19, 2009 at 2:24 PM

I blame physics. Or meteorology. Or both. The Carolina Mudcats pounded the hell out of the ball Monday night, pummeling it down the first and third base lines, nailing line drives into fielders’ gloves that seemed to smoke from the friction, powering it deep into the warning track. But only one of the five hits sailed out of the park—Sean Henry’s homer in the bottom of the second—as the ball met some unseen force that felled it as if someone had shot it at skeet practice. The result of the invisible hand of physics: A 4-1 loss to the Jacksonville...

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