Durham Bulls stepping out with new style in 2014
If you’ve been by the Durham Bulls Athletic Park recently, you’ve seen feverish activity even though it is the off-season.
The Bulls announced their 2014 schedule on Monday and it shows the team beginning defense of their International League Governor’s Cup championship with an eight-game season-opening homestand.
Jose Lobaton, a catcher with the Durham Bulls in 2010 and 2011, hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning into the giant fish tank beyond the center-field wall, and Tampa Bay staved off elimination once again by beating the Boston Red Sox 5-4 Monday night.
The Durham Bulls lost to the Omaha Storm Chasers in the Triple-A National Championship Game on Tuesday night, but there was still a celebration around Tim Beckham’s locker. The Durham shortstop was accepting hugs and handshakes from a steady stream of teammates, who punctuated their congratulations with “Going to varsity!” “Going up!” and “Yeah, buddy!”
Every time Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo took someone out of the Triple-A National Championship on Tuesday, he made sure to greet the player with a big hug in the dugout. “You never know if you’re going to see them again or not,” Montoyo said.
The Durham Bulls’ offensive woes finally came back to bite them in the Triple-A National Championship Game. Durham was held to three hits by Omaha starter Chris Dwyer and two relievers, as the Pacific Coast League champion Storm Chasers beat the International League champion Bulls 2-1 on Tuesday night.
The Durham Bulls dominated the International League this season, becoming the first team in 26 years to lead the IL in both batting average and ERA and finishing 87-57, seven games better than anyone else in the league. The Omaha Storm Chasers went 70-74, the 10th best record in the 16-team Pacific Coast League but slid into the playoffs by winning the four-team American North division by one game.
The Durham Bulls are champions again. And after a post-season full of edgy, heart-pounding, run-starved games, the best team in the International League finally made it look easy.
“That had to be one of the best games ever seen in the playoffs,” Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo declared after his team scored the night’s only runs in the top of the 14th inning to beat the Pawtucket Red Sox 2-0 in game three of the Governors’ Cup championship series.
The Durham Bulls capped their final home appearance of the season with a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Pawtucket Red Sox Wednesday, evening their best-of-5 Governors’ Cup series at one game apiece.
The Durham Bulls got the pitching they needed to hold the Pawtucket Red Sox scoreless through seven innings, but now they face needing to win a pair of games on the road to claim the Governors’ Cup championship after a 2-1 loss in Tuesday night’s series opener at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
To determine who has an advantage in postseason play, Durham Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo looks no further than 60 feet, six inches from home plate. “Pitching is the name of the game,” Monotyo said. “If our starters are going to keep going six or seven innings, that’s pretty good.”
The battle for the International League championship comes down to two franchises familiar with the prize — the Governor’s Cup. The Pawtucket Red Sox, the 2012 league champions, face the Durham Bulls, who are aiming for their fourth Governor’s Cup win in the past 12 seasons, in a best-of-five series that begins today at Durham Bulls Athletic Park (7:05 p.m., Time Warner Cable 151, Me-TV 50.2).