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Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm in Durham as Mudcats back into first-place tie

Posted by on Fri, Jun 19, 2009 at 8:59 PM

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Now this is weird.

I'm blogging about the Carolina Mudcats and where do I sit? Durham Bulls Athletic Park, where I used to come about 72 times a year for 14 ½ seasons when I used to cover the home team for The Incredible Shrinking Herald-Sun.

Don't worry, I'm not lost.

I'm also covering the visiting Pawtucket Red Sox for the Providence Journal in the opener of a four-game series. Tonight in the box we have barbecue with all the trimmings - baked beans, slaw, banana puddin' and what have you.

Blogging from DBAP. That's something Bulls publicist Matt DeMargel long dreamed that I would do, and now it's actually happening.

Adam is actually covering the game for Triangle Offense, so I'll shut up about the Bulls now. Their game turns out to be a nightmare anyway.

Spoiler alert: Mudcats lose once (here's the box), but Huntsville loses twice and they're all tied up atop the Southern League's North Division.  And Miami alumnus Yonder Alonso (pictured) is on the disabled list.

Time to watch the scoreboards, where the Mudcats are about to start their road game with the Tennessee Smokies. At the same time, the Huntsville Stars have already started their road doubleheader with their archrivals and arch nemeses, the Birmingham Barons.

At first pitch the Stars lead the Southern League's North Division by a scant half-game over Carolina, while Birmingham ran away with the South long ago.

And the Mudcats already have some bad news in the training room department, as uberprospect Alonso is out of the lineup. The first baseman is on the seven-day disabled list with a broken hamate bone in his right hand, suffered on a swing in the second game of Thursday night's doubleheader against the Smokies.

Alonso's replacement is outfielder Denis Phipps, called up from Sarasota of the Florida State League after hitting .269 with five homers and 34 RBI for the S-Reds.

Huntsville collapses in its opening game, as the Barons score two in the fifth and two in the ninth to win a scheduled seven-inning game 4-2.

And then it's the Mudcats' turn to fall apart.

Carolina breaks a tie in the ninth when Juan Francisco, Zack Cozart and pinch-hitter Shaun Cumberland hit consecutive two-out singles to make it 7-6. However, the Smokies aren't done. Tony Thomas gets an RBI double with one out, followed by Mark Reed's sacrifice fly to give the hosts an 8-7 victory.

But don't fret, Mudcats fans. Birmingham puts one serious Alabama butt-whipping on Huntsville in the nightcap, winning 11-0.

So Carolina and Huntsville are dead even with each having two games to play in the first half.

The same teams keep playing at the same sites. Right-hander Dallas Buck (2-1, 3.42) will start for the Mudcats against lefty Jeremy Papelbon (1-3, 3.97) in tonight's 7:15 contest at Smokies Park.

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