DBAP/DURHAM It’s going to be a near-perfect night for baseball now that the grounds crew has finished its work.

Bulls mascot Wool E. Bull is always happy about a South Division victory.
  • File photo by Al Drago
  • Bulls mascot Wool E. Bull is always happy about a South Division victory.

The fans strolling into Durham Bulls Athletic Park for tonight’s series opener against the Gwinnett Braves will be watching the first few innings on a Chamber of Commerce evening, belying the fact that the fierce afternoon storms caused tragedy around the state and that the Bull City was just a great place to be.

It’s a showdown for early-season supremacy in the International League’s South Division. The Bulls come into the contest in their usual first-place spot in the division — they have won it in nine of their 13 seasons in the league — while Gwinnett is a game back.

They’re meeting for the fifth time this year, after splitting their season-opening four-game set in the Atlanta suburbs with ever game a serious nail-biter.

Southpaw Alex Torres (0-0, 0.00) makes his DBAP debut against the Braves’ Todd Redmond (0-1, 3.00). And there’s certainly a respectable crowd in the house.

The Bulls get an unearned run and begin the series on a high note, escaping with a rare 1-0 DBAP victory.

It’s an outstanding pitchers’ duel until the Bulls finally get something going with one out in the fifth. Robinson Chirinos singles to left, and then takes second when shortstop Diory Hernandez boots Omar Luna’s grounder. J.J. Furmaniak then hits a bouncer to third and Shawn Bowman throws out Luna, but second baseman Ed Lucas bobbles the ball trying to get it out of his glove and Chirinos eludes the tag at the plate.

And that, friends, ends the scoring for the night.

Torres goes 5 1/3 innings and allows three hits, striking out eight against one walk. Dane De La Rosa goes a solid 1 2/3 before Brandon Gomes comes on for the final two and his third save of the season.

Redmond goes seven and allows the unearned run on two hits with six strikeouts against a walk.

The Bulls finished with three hits to the Braves’ four, with Furmaniak’s double the only extra-base hit of the game.

They said it …

Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo: “It’s one more close game with Gwinnett, and in a game like that whoever makes an error ends up losing the game. That’s what happened today. There was good pitching, they made a big error and we didn’t and that’s what won the game. Chirinos did a great job of base running and fortunately that was the game. I’m not taking that credit. He went on his own.”

Torres: “I had good location with my fastball, and my changeup was working well too. In the fourth inning I was a little bit inconsistent with my fastball, but I was able to make the adjustments. I just tried to throw my pitches around the zone, keep my concentration and get strike one.”

Chirinos: “It was a great slide. (Gwinnett catcher J.C. Boscan) was calling me ‘Spider Man’ on my next at-bat. I knew it was going to be a close play. I knew he was going to try to tag me right away, so I stopped to avoid the tag and it worked. The pitchers have been throwing great, getting ahead and battling.”

What does it all mean?
That the Bulls are playing as well as anyone in the IL right now.

Stars of the game
1. Torres.
2. Chirinos.
3. Gomes.

Play of the game

Chirinos’ mad dash for the plate.

Series record

Bulls lead 3-2.

Bulls: Won 5.
Gwinnett: Lost 1.


On deck
Durham (Brian Baker 0-0, 2.45) vs. Gwinnett (Jacob Thompson, 0-0, 4.50).