FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Back again with the Carolina Mudcats, who are desperately needing to mix in a win.
The Carolina League’s last-place team will take a five-game overall losing streak and eight-game overall losing streak into tonight’s contest with the Salem Red Sox.
Salem, incidentally, has been in the CL since 1955 and is the league’s most-renamed team. The franchise has been the Avalanche, Buccaneers and Redbirds during my time covering the league and the Pirates and Rebels before that.
Salem’s pitching coach is Nelson Paulino, whose local claim to fame is that he played for the 1994 Durham Bulls, the last Bulls club to call Durham Athletic Park home.
Jacob Lee (0-3, 5.91) will take on the Sox’ William Cuevas (1-4, 6.66).
This loss is painful, as the Red Sox rally for four runs in the seventh against a tired Lee and escape with a 5-4 win to clinch the series.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats will finish their series with the Lynchburg Hillcats on an unseasonably cold evening.
And right now it’s about turning around the momentum.
The Mudcats are in last place in the Carolina League’s Southern Division, 10 games behind first place Myrtle Beach with 34 games left in the half. So for the team, it’s all about getting the momentum headed in the right direction.
The visiting Atlanta Braves’ affiliates will look for a sweep of the four-game series.
Nick Pasquale (0-0, 2.19 at Lake County) will make his Mudcats debut against Navery Moore (2-4, 6.69).
Things don’t go Carolina’s way after the first few innings, as they fall 7-4 and are victims of a four-game sweep in Zebulon for the first time since joining the CL last spring.
On a perfect night for baseball, with temperatures in the mid 60s, the Durham Bulls defeated the Syracuse Chiefs, 4-2, in its only win of the four-game home stand.
The crowd on hand, 8,227, at Durham Bulls Athletic Park was electric all night and even sustained “the wave” for almost the entirety of the eighth inning.
Bulls fans had plenty to cheer about early and often as the team scored in three consecutive innings, third through fifth, and added an insurance run in the eighth.
Starting pitcher J.D. Martin (4-1) was solid once again this season, completing seven innings of work, allowing five hits, two runs and five strikeouts.
Josh Leuke started the eighth inning in relief of Martin and captured the six-out save, his seventh on the season.
Wil Myers, who started the game in right field, was replaced early in the game by Rich Thompson. Myers being benched created a nervous stir in the crowd and web with rumors spreading about the talented prospect either being traded or called up to Tampa Bay.
I’m a new intern with INDY Week with a primary focus of covering the Durham Bulls over the summer. Next fall I’ll be a senior at N.C. State and the sports editor at N.C. State's campus paper, the Technician.
Tuesday night’s Bulls game was my first experience at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and this summer I'll be looking for stories as I follow the team. There are 25 players on the active roster, and with all of the comings and goings of a minor league team, I can expect to encounter many new names. So, last night's game against the Syracuse Chiefs was mainly an occasion for me to familiarize myself with the squad.
The Bulls opened the scoring in the first inning as I got my first look at a couple of key prospects. After highly rated Wil Myers singled to center, Leslie Anderson bombed a homer to right to give starting pitcher Alex Torres a 2-0 lead.
Torres put in a good outing, allowing four hits, two walks and seven strikeouts in six innings, but he lived dangerously. He faced back-to-back bases-loaded situations in the fourth and fifth innings, but the Chiefs were unable to get a run across the plate.
Syracuse finally broke through in the seventh, scoring three runs that would decide the game. At the top of the seventh, skipper Charlie Montoyo replaced Torres with De Los Santos, who was quickly replaced after giving up the lead.
Will Inman relieved De Los Santos, and promptly threw the game away.
With a runner in scoring position the Chiefs executed a squeeze bunt, which worked beautifully thanks to Inman. Inman cleanly fielded the bunt but the throw to first base hit the dirt and short hopped the first baseman, sending the Chief base runner home for the go-ahead run.
The Bulls mounted a comeback in the ninth. Anderson and Shelley Duncan both hit back-to-back singles with one out, but the Bulls were unable to score.
Thanks to the three-run seventh, the Chiefs held the Bulls at bay for a 3-2 victory. Here's the box score.
The teams didn't get much of a break afterward, with an 11:05 a.m. first pitch for today. The Chiefs won that one, 5-3, despite 17 strikeouts by three Bulls pitchers. Both teams are back Thursday at 7:05. I'll be there. You can follow my tweets @IndyweekSports and @jastout89.
The Carolina League plays two 70-game halves, and 28 games into the race they’re in last place and five games out of first in the Southern Division.
Tonight they’ll play the second of a three-game set against the Frederick Keys, affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles, who are percentage points out of first in the Northern Division after a 4-3 win in 11 innings on Friday.
The Keys have several personalities of interest in the lineup. They have last season’s Mudcat center fielder Delvi Cid along with first baseman Connor Narron, who played at C.B. Aycock High in Pikeville and is the son of Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Jerry Narron. And the leadoff man is Johnny Ruettiger, whose uncle Dan “Rudy” Ruettiger was the Notre Dame football walkon portrayed by Sean Astin in the hit movie “Rudy.”
Southpaw Elvis Araujo, recovering from an elbow injury, makes his Mudcats debut against Zach Petersime (1-2, 7.85), who is going on three days’ rest.
Tonight the Keys make the most out of a few clutch hits, scoring four runs in the last three innings to win 7-4.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Checking in on the Carolina Mudcats, who happen to be in last place in the Carolina League.
All of that doesn’t mean much, as through 18 games the league’s hottest teams are a scant two games ahead of the coldest. The Mudcats lead the league with a .277 batting average.
Tonight they’ll try for their third win in as many tries against the Potomac Nationals. Southpaw Shawn Morimando (1-1, 1.29) will go for the Mudcats against Blake Schwartz who is making his Carolina League debut.
One swing of the bat makes all the difference, as the Nats get in a lick with a 2-0 victory.
They’ve won the first two of the series against the Winston-Salem Dash — the first in a rout and the second with an eighth-inning comeback — and will look for the sweep on a proverbial perfect spring afternoon for baseball. The Dash was not swept last year.
Southpaw Shawn Morimando (7-6, 3.59 at Lake County last season) will take on the Dash’s Chris Beck (4-3, 4.69 at Great Falls).
Things remain so far, so good for the Mudcats, who get six runs out of six hits in their 6-2 win to complete the sweep.
At least for April, there aren’t much better nights for baseball around here, as the rain is gone and there is no wind and it’s 62 degrees at first pitch.
The Mudcats start the season with a three-game series against the Winston-Salem Dash, and the Carolina roster looks to be a lot stronger than the one that wasn’t really competitive in either half last season.
The Mudcats have a pair of first-round draft picks on their roster in shortstop Francisco Lindor (2011) and center fielder Tyler Naquin (2012).
Cody Anderson (4-7, 3.20 at Lake County) will start for the Mudcats tonight against Bryan Blough (2-0, 3.93). Blough’s two wins last season were against the Mudcats.
Carolina has the hot bats tonight, banging out 14 hits to the in-state rivals’ four in a 10-1 romp.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Play ball!
The Mudcats will boast a pair of fresh-faced first-round draft picks and a young new manager when Cody Anderson (4-7, 3.20 at Lake County last season) takes the hill against Bryan Blough (2-0, 3.93) in the first of their three-game set against the Chicago White Sox affiliates.
The manager is 33-year-old David Wallace, a Vanderbilt alumnus and former Indians organization catcher who played in Kinston and later Buffalo. Wallace is 112-102 entering his third season as a manager.
The DBAP hosted last year's Triple-A National Championship game. The Bulls made this extraordinarily rainy affair come off beautifully, somehow getting the field into playing condition in time for first pitch despite a daylong deluge. The Bulls were already angling for the All-Star Game at that time, and their performance (plus the 8,000 fans who showed up despite the weather) must have helped seal the deal.
And it's a rather big one. You could tell that from the attendance in the Bulls' home clubhouse this morning, because the rotation of speakers included not just Bulls General Manager Mike Birling and Marketing Director Scott Carter, but also Durham Mayor Bill Bell, International League President Randy Mobley and Duke University's Vice President for Public Affairs and Government Relations, Michael Schoenfeld.
Tickets are not yet on sale and probably won't be for a while. The exact schedule for the All-Star game has yet to be announced. When tickets do become available, priority will go to Bulls season ticket holders. This means that, conceivably, all 10,000 tickets could be snapped up before the general public ever has a crack at them. Stay tuned.
And read on for a few more thoughts on the latest windfall in Durham's current boom.