DURHAM BULLS ATHLETIC PARK In the 20th season of the Bull City's downtown baseball jewel, we're finally having a Triple-A All-Star Game.
On Wednesday night Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo, who needs seven victories to surpass former skipper Bill Evers and become the club's winningest ever, will direct the International League's best against the Pacific Coast League. Montoyo is managing in an all-star game for the third time, the second time as the IL's boss.
Buffalo's Liam Hedricks (7-1, 2.19) will take on New Orleans' Elih Villanueva (8-6, 3.92) in the 7 p.m. contest to be shown on MLB Network .
The IL leads the all-time series, which began in 1988, 9 wins to 7. Before 1998, the Bulls' first year in the league, there were three Triple-A circuits including the old American Association and the game matched players from American and National League affiliates.
Four current Bulls - outfielder Mikie Mahtook, infielder Wilson Betemit, and pitchers Merrill Kelly and Mike Montgomery - dot the IL roster, something that makes a lot of sense since the club is comfortably in first place. Former Carolina Mudcats outfielder Felix Perez of the Louisville Bats is also on the IL squad, while former Bull infielder Shawn O'Malley - now with the Salt Lake Buzz - is suited up for the PCL.
Mahtook, who is in his third straight all-star game, is one of six players competing in the Home Run Derby that is the centerpiece of tonight's festivities.
The other competitors are Columbus' Jesus Aguilar and Indianapolis' Matt Hague for the IL and Las Vegas' Allan Dykstra, Reno's Mike Jacobs and Omaha's Francisco Pena.
Mahtook and Jacobs are eliminated in the first round, Hague and Aguilar in the second.
For the finale, Josh Hamilton's personal Home Run Derby pitcher Clay Council comes on to pitch to Pena and Dykstra. The Wake Forest alumnus Dykstra's sole homer in that round wins it.
Attendance is 10,160 before the rains come.
They said it ...
Montoyo: "I played in four all-star games (in the minors) and every time you think about not getting an All-Star Break, but as soon as you get there it's awesome. And having my family here makes it easier. ... I don't look at the standings, but I know we're in first. Our pitching is giving us a chance and our bullpen is very good. We've got guys with good arms, and as they get better it's going to help us finish the year on a good note."
Mahtook: "I was excited when I found out I was going to this game. Every year you try to play the best you can and hope you get honored for it. Participating in an all-star game is always a huge honor and I look forward to it. ... It's great being around this (Bulls club) and this organization and around our manager is just a great experience."
Triple-A All-Star Game at DBAP, Wednesday, 7 p.m. PCL (Elih Villanueva 8-6, 3.92) vs. IL (Liam Hendriks 7-1, 2.19).