BEST IN PRO BALL
A big leaguer on a rehabilitation assignment certainly gets the attention of a Triple-A baseball player.
But, in words and actions Friday night, Durham’s Merrill Kelly explained the fine line of facing someone with that stature.
With Atlanta Braves power-hitting rookie Evan Gattis batting No. 3 in the Gwinnett Braves order, Kelly shut out the Braves for six innings, retiring Gattis three times along the way.
Three Durham relief pitchers kept the Braves off the scoreboard over the final three innings as Durham beat Gwinnett 3-0 in International League baseball at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
A 26-year-old catcher with Atlanta this season, Gattis slammed 14 home runs and batted .252 before suffering a strained right oblique last month. His rehabilitation process brought him to Durham where he faced live pitching for the first time since going on the DL June 18.
The 24-year-old Kelly, in his first year at the Triple-A level, was aware of Gattis’ prowess in Atlanta and called him a “great hitter.” But Kelly has confidence in his ability as well.
“I knew he was on deck, I knew where he was in the lineup,” Kelly said. “I tried not to pay as much attention to it just because I don’t want to give them too much credit. If I start to give them too much credit…I feel like it might give them an edge over me. Whether I admit it or not, it might enter my head. If I’m going to continue in this game longer and eventually make it to the big leagues, I’m going to face guys like on a regular basis.”
Kelly struck Gattis out in the first inning with a 91 mph fastball in the 6-4, 230-pounder’s eyes.
In the third inning, with the game still scoreless, Gwinnett loaded the bases with one out on a hit batter and two infield hits. That brought Gattis up with a chance to do damage.
But Kelly struck him out again, this time retiring him on a slider outside the strike zone.
“I really tried to just slow the game down and take a deep breath,” Kelly said. “Just tried to slow things down and I was able to make some pitches when I needed to.”
Kelly escaped the jam by striking out clean-up hitter Ernest Mejia on another slider.
For Durham manager Charlie Montoyo, seeing Kelly work out of trouble is becoming routine.
“It seems like every time he pitches he gets in trouble somehow,” Montoyo said. “But he gets out of it. He gets out of it making big pitches. To me that was the game when he got Mejia with the bases loaded.”
In Kelly’s last two starts, both against Gwinnett, he’s thrown 13 shutout innings while allowing just eight hits. He’s struck out seven and issued four walks.
Durham took the lead in the fourth inning when Leslie Anderson singled, moved to third on a Ryan Roberts double and scored on a passed ball.
Cole Figueroa gave the Bulls a 2-0 lead in the fifth with a solo home run. Batting lead off, Figueroa collected three hits for the Bulls. He doubled and scored on Tim Beckham double in the eighth inning.
NOTES: Roberts was removed from the game after the sixth inning due to his comfort in his back…The Bulls and Braves continue their series tonight at 7:05 p.m. Matt Buschmann (4-0, 2.56) pitches for Durham with Joe Bisenius (3-1, 5-31) on the mound for Gwinnett. The teams complete the series Sunday to reach the All-Star break. ... The Bulls improved to 61-35, the best record in all pro baseball.
Durham Bulls (61-35) 3, Gwinnett Braves (41-55) 0
July 12, 2013
|Cunningham, T, CF||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.287|
|Mejia, E, 1B||3||0||1||0||0||1||3||.251|
|a-Singled for Kazmar in the 9th.|
2B: Leonard 2 (15, Kelly, M, Kelly, M).
TB: Leonard 5; Mejia, E; Constanza 2; Cunningham, T; Carrithers.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Mejia, E 2; Pagnozzi; Gattis; Gosselin; Constanza.
Team RISP: 2-for-9.
Team LOB: 10.
SB: Constanza (18, 2nd base off Kelly, M/Flores, J).
PB: Pagnozzi 2 (8).
|Figueroa, C, 3B-2B||4||2||3||1||0||0||0||.307|
|Beckham, T, SS||4||0||1||1||0||0||2||.269|
|Anderson, Le, LF||3||1||2||0||1||0||0||.322|
|Roberts, R, 2B||3||0||1||0||0||1||1||.309|
|Flores, J, C||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.174|
|Kelly, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|1-Ran for Anderson, Le in the 8th.|
2B: Roberts, R (3, Hale), Figueroa, C (16, Lamm), Beckham, T (15, Lamm).
HR: Figueroa, C (3, 5th inning off Hale, 0 on, 2 out).
TB: Roberts, R 2; Beckham, T 2; Gimenez; Figueroa, C 7; Anderson, Le 2.
RBI: Figueroa, C (42), Beckham, T (33).
2-out RBI: Figueroa, C.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Beckham, T; Fontenot; Duncan 2.
Team RISP: 1-for-9.
Team LOB: 6.
Outfield assists: Guyer (Gosselin at home).
DP: (Kelly, M-Duncan).
|Hale (L, 3-5)||5.0||5||2||1||0||4||1||3.28|
|Kelly, M (W, 4-0)||6.0||5||0||0||1||5||0||1.70|
|Beliveau (H, 6)||1.0||1||0||0||0||1||0||1.99|
|Lueke (H, 2)||1.0||1||0||0||1||1||0||0.45|
|Yates (S, 10)||1.0||1||0||0||0||1||0||1.03|
IBB: Anderson, Le (by Lamm).
HBP: Mejia, E (by Kelly, M), Pagnozzi (by Kelly, M).
Pitches-strikes: Hale 91-57, Buchter 37-26, Lamm 22-12, Kelly, M 103-65, Beliveau 14-9, Lueke 23-13, Yates 15-11.
Groundouts-flyouts: Hale 5-5, Buchter 0-0, Lamm 0-1, Kelly, M 2-5, Beliveau 2-0, Lueke 2-0, Yates 2-0.
Batters faced: Hale 20, Buchter 7, Lamm 6, Kelly, M 24, Beliveau 4, Lueke 5, Yates 4.
Umpires: HP: Ben May. 1B: Jeff Gosney. 3B: Reid Churchill.
Weather: 74 degrees, cloudy.
Wind: 8 mph, L to R.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
July 12, 2013
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media