DBAP/DURHAM The Durham Bulls are taking on the Indianapolis Indians in the finale of their four-game set, and the last time the teams will meet this season unless they square off in the Governors’ Cup Playoffs.
- Photo courtesy Durham Bulls
- Bulls outfielder Justin Ruggiano
The Bulls are in good position to be there, as they lead the International League’s South Division by 14 games over the Charlotte Knights with 31 games left in the season, while Indianapolis is nine back in the West and 5 ½ off the pace in the wild-card race.
The heat is back, as it’s 90 degrees and sunny at game time, but the fans are ignoring it as there are 9,139 in the house.
The Bulls will send Aneury Rodriguez (4-5) to the hill in a spot start, as Jeremy Hellickson may be called up to Tampa Bay for another spot outing in a couple of days. Mike Crotta (5-6) will go for Indianapolis.
Five Bulls pitchers combine on a two-hitter and a 2-0 victory.
It’s a solid pitchers’ duel from the outset, especially from Rodriguez who is very much up to the job.
But the Bulls are able to scratch out a couple of runs early on.
Durham gets one up with one out in the third. J.J. Furmaniak reaches on an error to shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, steals second, takes third on a Desmond Jennings bunt and scores on Justin Ruggiano’s single to left.
And the Bulls double their lead in the fifth. Jennings is hit by a pitch with one out and scores on Ruggiano’s double to right.
Five Bulls pitchers combine on a two-hitter, the last hit coming with two out and two strikes in the ninth.
Rodriguez goes 4 1/3 and allows one hit, striking out six against four walks. Joe Bateman (4-0) picks up the victory. Jake McGee goes two perfect innings with five strikeouts in his Triple-A debut, while R.J. Swindle gets five outs before Winston Abreu gets the final out and his 17th save.
Crotta, who gets a nice ovation when he leaves the hill, has a quality outing with 6 1/3 innings of work, allowing two runs — one earned — with three strikeouts against one walk.
The Bulls will have the day off on Monday before opening a three-game set with Charlotte.
They said it …
Bulls skipper Charlie Montoyo: “Rodriguez was huge going four innings in a spot start. Bateman was outstanding when he came in with two on. And it was great to see McGee blowing people away like that. Swindle just knows how to pitch and I don’t take that for granted. He’s been beautiful to watch and so has Abreu. … The ball’s bouncing our way right now. I just keep going one game at a time. You know me, I don’t worry about what (the opposition) does.”
Ruggiano: “The last hit I had? Those are the best. I think they adjusted the rules so as soon as someone blows on the ball it’s fair. Sundays are always tough when the sun’s out. I was just happy to put the ball in play four times. Our team did a pretty good job. … We’ve got a fun team. Everything is loose. We’re having a lot of fun.”
McGee: “I wasn’t sure how it would go, because I hadn’t pitched out of the bullpen all year. I was trying to keep my fastball down in the zone and elevate it later. I’m excited to be here. We’re going to be in the playoffs and I want to help out as much as I can.”
What does it all mean?
The Bulls’ lead remains at 14 games.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Ruggiano’s fourth hit, a single that was rolling slowly down the third-base line before catcher Luke Carlin blew it foul.
Bulls lead 5-3.
Durham: Won 2.
Indianapolis: Lost 2.
Durham: P Dale Thayer optioned from Tampa Bay.
Charlotte at Bulls, Tuesday, 7:05 p.m.