The Bulls showed no signs of rust after two days off, one scheduled and one the result of yesterday's rainout at the DBAP. Joe Dillon began the Bulls' first five-spot with an innocent Texas-league single into the no-man's land of shallow center field, and newly promoted outfielder Leslie Anderson followed with a stinging single up the middle. Dioner Navarro tried to sacrifice the runners over, failed to get a bunt down, and then drilled a two-run double into the right-center field gap. That result only adds ammo to my war against sacrifice bunts.
After Jose Lobaton grounded out, Lincoln walked Angel Chavez and then allowed two singles and a double to Desmond Jennings, Elliot Johnson and Justin Ruggiano, seriatim. 5-0, Bulls. In a seven-inning game (the truncation is pro forma for minor-league doubleheader games), it was pretty much over at that point. The second five-run outburst only put it to bed.
Meanwhile, Richard De Los Santos was cruising. Through five innings, he allowed five hits and one walk, picked off a runner, and struck out three batters. His own wild pitch scored the lone Indianapolis run in the top of the sixth inning (and ended his outing at 85 pitches), but De Los Santos was effective enough to pick up his 11th win of the season. That's second on the Bulls, right behind Jeremy Hellickson's 12, and in fact second in the entire International League. Wouldn't have predicted that in April, as De Los Santos struggled to an early 6.00 ERA. But if you keep the ball down and throw strikes, good things happen.
Only about 15 minutes remain until game two begins—Jake McGee has just been activated, taking the place of Dale Thayer, who was promoted to Tampa earlier today (I guess they heard me going on about their thin bullpen yesterday)—but after the jump are some initial thoughts about Leslie Anderson. Hey, if you're reading this, you've still got time to catch most of the second game of the doubleheader. See you on the other side—of the jump, or of the twinbill.
Leslie Anderson started in left field in game one, a rather tough assignment for a newbie, what with the insoluble menace of the Blue Monster looming behind him. And events conspired to make Anderson work almost immediately. Iin the top of the second inning, Mitch Jones drove a liner to the wall down the line. Anderson played the carom expertly, wheeled, and fired to second to throw out Jones trying to stretch the hit into a double. (A couple of innings later, Anderson showed off his impressive arm again, although his throw to second base was too late.) Rangy and athletic, Anderson looks like the real deal at first glance. His two singles were hard hit, the second a smash hit on a hop right at the second baseman, but so hard that it ate up Brian Friday and caromed off his glove into right field. Anderson also struck out twice, once looking at a curveball and once swinging at high heat from the Pirates' lefty reliever Daniel Moskos. He is slated to play first base in the nightcap.
A quick word about Elliot Johnson: he was 2-3 with a triple in game one. On a current 10-game tear (.351, 1.053 OPS), he's now leading the Bulls in hitting with a .308 average. I remind myself that he's still just 26 years old. He looks much more settled and confident at the plate these days, and I dare say Johnson could help the Rays with his versatility after rosters expand on Sept. 1.
Well, kids, game two is already underway, and with a bang: the Indians' Kevin Melillo led off by blasting a solo home run off the Triangle Orthopedic Associates sign, the one that registers the speed of Virgil Vasquez's pitches, out in left-centerfield. And after doubles by Ryan Doumit and John Bowker (Bowker's was a pop fly that would have been the third out of the inning in almost any other ballpark), it's already 2-0, Indianapolis. I better start paying attention. I'll be back atcha late tonight with more.