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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bulls Fall to Gwinnett; Kennedy Era Over

Posted by on Sat, May 9, 2009 at 2:09 AM

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="340" caption="Adam Kennedy was traded to Oakland yesterday"]Adam Kennedy was traded to Oakland yesterday[/caption]The Durham Bulls fell meekly to the Gwinnett Braves tonight, 7-1. Since starting the year 6-0, the Bulls have gone 10-12. They remain 1/2 game behind Norfolk in the International League Southern Division.

Wade Davis took the loss (his first of the season) for Durham, giving up three runs on four hits and three walks in five innings. Sidearming lefthander Randy Choate (who has appeared in half the Bulls' games), Dewon Day and Jason Isringhausen relieved. Isringhausen gave up his first runs of the season in a three-run eighth. He allowed two doubles that apparently just eluded Matt Joyce in center field. Joyce isn't known for his fielding, so perhaps a stronger outfielder (we miss you, Fernando Perez!) might have made those plays -- although it should be said that Joyce has so far been the Bulls' best hitter. His .958 OPS leads the team by a wide margin, and puts him 10th in the league; he's third in the league in on-base percentage at .433.

The Bulls will need him to keep swinging a solid bat, because they lost one of their better hitters today. Adam Kennedy was traded to Oakland for a player to be named later. The A's recently lost their starting second baseman, Mark Ellis, to a calf injury, and Kennedy will surely become Oakland's starter at the keystone sack immediately. He'll be reunited with shortstop Orlando Cabrera, his double-play partner with the Los Anaheim Angels of Angeles (or whatever) in 2005-06.

There will surely be a compensating Bulls' roster move of some sort, but yesterday the depleted team was without not only Kennedy but also injured utility man Elliot Johnson, so Ray Olmedo started at second base. John Jaso returned to his catching duties (and had a passed ball); it turns out he was hit in the knee by a pitch last weekend, which explains his having missed a few games behind the plate. Light-hitting backup catcher Alex Jamieson started at DH. Justin Ruggiano would have been a natural choice for that role, but he did not play. Was that because a) it was his turn for a day off, b) he's hurt, or c) manager Charlie Montoyo is trying to find a way to snap Ruggiano out of his month-long slump to start the season? Ruggiano's line to date is a dismal .200/.283/.337/.620, and his 30 strikeouts (in just 95 at-bats) are tied for second-most in the league. With the recently-acquired Joyce hitting well for Durham, and Jon Weber turning in decent numbers, Ruggiano, who has seen a little time in Tampa, needs to start performing or he'll find himself moving to the back of the pack of minor-league outfielders in the Tampa system -- especially with hot outfield prospect Desmond Jennings turning heads down in Double-A Montgomery.

Speaking of Bulls who need to start performing, Carlos Hernandez is tomorrow night's starter against Gwinnett -- a suburb of Atlanta, by the way.

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