Bulls’ struggles against southpaws continue
The Durham Bulls may have the most wins in professional baseball, but right now the team has one glaring weakness — facing left-handed pitchers.
The Bulls lost their season-high fourth straight game Wednesday, falling 5-4 to the Rochester Red Wings at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
All four losses have come against lefty starters. While Durham’s four righthanded hitters went 7-for-13 Wednesday — Tim Beckham went 4-for-4 — the six lefties in the lineup combined to go 2-for-19.
“The fact is that our lineup is too left-handed heavy right now,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We’re flat-out struggling against lefties, and that’s a fact. It’s easy to see it.”
As a result, Rochester (66-54) clinched its first series win at the DBAP. The Red Wings had been 0-8-7 in series all-time in Durham (73-46).
Jake Odorizzi allowed three runs in three innings – his shortest start of the season – and Adam Liberatore (4-2) allowed Rochester to score the go-ahead runs in the fourth.
“(Odorizzi) set the tone for the game,” Montoyo said. “We were hoping for a good outing by him, and he didn’t give it, and Liberatore came in and struggled. But at the end of the day we were still in the game and we just couldn’t do it.”
Minnesota Twins outfielder Josh Willingham, who is on a Major League rehab assignment, homered over the bull in left field to start the scoring in the second inning.
The Red Wings made it 3-0 in the third. After loading the bases with no outs, fellow Twins rehabber Darin Mastroianni hit an RBI groundout and Chris Parmelee singled off the Blue Monster.
But the Bulls tied the game in the bottom half of the inning, ensuring Odorizzi wouldn’t suffer his fourth loss in five starts.
After the first three batters reached on two walks and a hit-by-pitch, Beckham hit a two-run single to left to make the score 3-2. Chris Gimenez followed with an RBI single, but Mike Fontenot grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Liberatore came in for the Bulls to start the fourth, but he fared worse than Odorizzi. Liberatore faced five batters and only retired one, on a sacrifice bunt. Eduardo Escobar was hit on the arm with the bases loaded to put Rochester ahead 4-3, and Mastroianni added an insurance run by beating out the relay throw on a potential double play ball, allowing the fifth run to score.
That run came in handy when Kevin Kiermaier tripled to lead off the seventh and scored on a sac fly by Cole Figueroa. But the Bulls couldn’t get the tying run across, and have now lost the first three against Rochester by a combined five runs.
“We’re still in the games, but we’re playing well enough to lose,” Montoyo said.
NOTES — The Bulls will attempt to avoid being swept for the first time this season when they finish up against Rochester today at 7:05 p.m. Mike Montgomery (6-5, 4.28), the last Durham pitcher to record a win, will face righty Virgil Vasquez (4-6, 4.78). The Bulls then end the nine-game homestand with a three-game set against Charlotte. … Durham first baseman Shelly Duncan is day-to-day after getting spiked in the leg at first base on Sunday.
Red Wings 5, Bulls 4
Escobar ss|4|0|1|1|Kiermaier cf|4|2|1|0
Mastroianni cf|3|0|0|2|Figueroa 3b|3|1|1|1
Mitchell pr-cf|1|0|0|0|Beckham ss|4|0|4|2
Parmelee rf|4|0|1|1|Belnome 1b|4|0|0|0
Willingham dh|3|1|1|1|Gimenez lf|4|0|2|1
Clement 1b|4|0|0|0|Fontenot 2b|3|0|0|0
Romero 3b|3|1|0|0|Albernaz c|4|0|1|0
Farris lf|3|1|2|0|Frey rf|3|0|0|0
Beresford 2b|3|1|1|0|Flores dh|1|1|0|0
Fryer c|2|1|0|0|Anderson dh|2|0|0|0
DP—Rochester 3, Durham 1. LOB—Rochester 5, Durham 7. 2B—Gimenez. 3B—Kiermaier. HR—Willingham (1). S—Beresford. SF—Figueroa. SB—Farris 2 (20).
Darnell (W, 3-3)|5.0|6|3|3|2|4
Perdomo (H, 2)|1.1|3|1|1|1|1
Achter (H, 1)|1.2|0|0|0|1|1
Tonkin (S, 9)|1.0|0|0|0|0|2
Liberatore (L, 4-2)|0.1|1|2|2|2|0
WP—Darnell. HBP—Escobar (by Liberatore), Flores (by Darnell). Umpires: HP: Travis Carlson. 1B: Joey Amaral. 2B: Kelvin Bultron. 3B: Clint Fagan. T—3:10. A—4,854.