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Friday, May 1, 2009

Bulls bats awaken, but scoring is a struggle in 6-3 victory

Posted by on Fri, May 1, 2009 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Bull star of the game, John Jaso
  • Bull star of the game, John Jaso

DBAP/ DURHAM—In the young season, on of the main storylines out of Durham has been the Bulls' silent bats. In 19 games the Bulls have averaged 3.74 runs, relying on solid but brief starting pitching and a workhorse bullpen to win games.

On Thursday, the Bulls' offense awoke as they tallied 10 hits, six walks and a total of 18 baserunners. However, the Bulls discovered that while getting runners on base is one thing, scoring runs is another.

The Clippers struck first, in the top of the first, as Bulls pitcher James Houser allowed a leadoff double to center fielder Michael Brantley. Brantley was sacrificed to third on a ground ball and home on a fly ball.

In the bottom of the first the Bulls countered with three singles, three walks and a double to take a 3-1 lead. Columbus starting pitcher Jack Cassel threw pitches as the Bulls batted through their entire lineup.

The Bulls' starting pitcher, Houser, continued to scatter hits. In the second, he put men on first and second with one out before retiring the side. Then Houser allowed the Clippers to plate a run in the top of the fourth after he walked two of the first three batters he faced. In the sixth Bulls' reliever Dewon Day allowed a double and single with two outs to tie the game 3-3.

The Bulls threatened in the sixth, putting runners on first and third with one out, but John Weber got caught stealing just before Ray Sadler grounded out to end the inning.

Getting Bulls on base without scoring runs was a disturbing trend, especially for a team with the offensive problems Durham has been having. In the seventh, the Bulls loaded the bases with nobody out.

It looked as if the Bulls would waste another opportunity as Adam Kennedy hit a hard liner right at the second baseman, giving Clippers' pitcher Zach Johnson the potential to end the inning on a double play.

However, the Bulls' offense stepped up. Outfielder Chris Nowak drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly to deep right field. The Bulls' star of the game, catcher John Jaso, then singled in two runs for a 6-3 lead.

Winston Abreu notched the save, his second of the season. Abreu pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings allowing only one hit. The Durham bullpen was called on yet again, pitching five innings allowing only one run on three hits, with two strikeout and no walks.

Notes:

-Ray Sadler needs to learn his home ballpark. On a hard hit ball off the left field wall, the "Blue Monster", Sadler tried to take two bases. He was immediately chastised in the press box and thrown out by six or eight feet on the field. In most ballparks a ball hit that well nets a double or home run, but a well-played bounce at the DBAP would only prove enough for a single.

-Jason Isringhausen didn't get a chance to make his Durham debut, despite promises that he would see his first action with the club. Isringhausen, or "Izzy", is a former All-Star closer looking to prove he is healthy enough to contribute to a major league bullpen.

-While batting in the bottom of the eighth, Jon Weber fouled a ball off his foot. He was replaced by a pinch-hitter, recent call-up Craig Albernaz, and will likely sit tomorrow out.

-Left fielder Matt LaPorta, one of the Indians' most prized prospects, went 0-3 on the night, with one walk. He showed great patience at the plate, seeing at least five pitches in each of his at bats. He's currently batting .368 and slugging .706, with five home runs and 14 runs batted in, so it is unlikely he'll go 0-3 again Friday or Saturday.

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