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Friday, May 22, 2009

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 to call its baseball team by another name.

Houser collapsed in the fifth inning, loading the bases with one out, but he got out of it with just two IronPigs scoring (or whatever it is that IronPigs do). After his very Bullsian start, Houser turned the keys over to the bullpen, who did the usual Bullsian bullpenning and, uh, demagnetized the IronPigs by holding them scoreless for the final four innings (Dewon Day, 2-0, picked up the win in relief). Houser walked four in his five innings, but he also struck out seven. You'll take a line of 5 3 2 2 4 7 from your fifth starter anytime.

Bat-wise, Matt Joyce went 3-5 with two doubles and two RBIs to pace a 13-hit attack. Reid Brignac was 3-3 and Joe Dillon hit his first home run in a Bulls uniform. It was also nice to see Chris Nowak hit another double; he's showing small signs of coming alive down there near the bottom of the order.

Ray Olmedo was caught stealing in the first inning, his second CS in three games. Olmedo would perhaps have eventually scored had he stayed put (Brignac singled, Ruggiano flied out to right, which could have sacrificed Olmedo home depending on the exact scenario). He's now 1-7 in stolen base attempts. How many more times will he be allowed to run himself into outs before he's asked to stop?

Off the field, a mysterious set of runes on the Bulls' Twitter feed late last night went like this:

+@#" and *#@+;! just got called up to the bigs.

I'm trying to get word from the Bulls about whether this is true (Hey! Matt?) and if so, who the lucky fellas are. I will let you know as soon as I know... although Chris Wise over at Watching Durham Bulls Baseball often beats me to the punch on this stuff. Chris also has a shot of Coca-Cola field, where the IronPigs play, and a bunch of other cool stuff on his site. Check it out.

Before I sign off--and while we're talking about Rust-Belt baseball--it's worth taking a moment to note that an Akron Aeros pitcher with the truly awesome name of Jeanmar Gomez threw a perfect game last night, mowing down all 27 Trenton Thunder(s? Claps? No, never mind) he faced. He lowered his ERA to the truly awesome mark of 0.31. Akron is in the Double-A Eastern League; let's hope Gomez jumps straight to the majors so the Bulls never have to face him. And lest you think this story has no real Bulls connection, old-timers will appreciate that Akron's manager from 2003-2005 was none other than former Bull--and 1981 Carolina League MVP--Brad Komminsk.

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