Kirby Yates saves Bulls in 5-4 opener of 10-game homestand
Durham Bulls closer Kirby Yates made his strongest case yet for why he should get his first major league call-up.
Coming in with the bases loaded and none out in the eighth inning, Yates allowed just one run (on an infield error) and then pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to preserve a 5-4 win over the Lehigh Valley IronPigs at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Yates threw 21 of his 26 pitches for strikes and lowered his ERA to 0.39 while recording his IL-leading 14 saves in 14 chances.
“How about that Kirby Yates, huh?” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I cannot say enough good things about that guy. Kirby Yates has been outstanding. I don’t take him for granted at all. One of these days he’s going to get a chance.”
Yates, a 27-year-old righthander, is on the Tampa Bay Rays’ 40-man roster. He entered Friday night’s game after Adam Liberatore gave up two hits and a walk to the only three batters he faced.
Yates struck out No. 3 hitter Maikel Franco on three pitches, then allowed a check-swing roller to cleanup hitter Jim Murphy that shortstop Hak-Ju Lee misplayed for a run-scoring error. Yates followed up by striking out Cameron Rupp and then getting lefty Steve Susdorf to fly out.
“His cutter was very effective tonight and he’s got a deceptive fastball,” Durham catcher Curt Casali said. “He’s not an overpowering dude but the ball just jumps out of his hand.”
Yates then needed eight pitches to get through the ninth and record the two-inning save.
“I think he’s established enough that he’s a really good closer in this league,” Casali said. “To be honest I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten a call-up. Not that I’m a good judge of talent or anything, but I can’t imagine that people up there would be better than him. He deserves a shot.”
Casali had the winning hit, a towering two-run homer over the snorting bull in left field to break a sixth-inning tie and put the Bulls ahead 5-3 on the first game of their season-high 10-game homestand. Durham (33-23) had taken a 3-0 lead on an RBI single by Mike Fontenot in the second inning and a two-run double by Mikie Mahtook in the fifth.
Starter Mike Montgomery, who threw the first 8-1/3 innings in the Bulls’ no-hitter last month, looked like he could have a repeat performance Friday —through five innings, the only Lehigh Valley baserunner came on a throwing error by the pitcher.
But Montgomery lost the no-hitter on a leadoff single in the sixth to Leandro Castro and soon lost the lead as well, as the IronPigs (29-26) scored on an error by centerfielder Mikie Mahtook, a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch.
Casali gave Durham the lead back in the bottom half of the inning, and Yates preserved the lead as the Bulls improved to 15-5 in games started by Montgomery or Merrill Kelly. The Bulls are 18-18 when anyone else starts.
NOTES — Infielder Cole Figueroa was optioned to the Bulls Friday and infielder Robby Price was sent to extended spring training. Figueroa’s two-week stay with the Tampa Bay Rays was memorable — his pinch-hit, run-scoring double in the bottom of the ninth inning on May 23 gave the Rays a 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox. … Montoyo said that Montgomery was on a pitch count of 75 because of an unspecified issue with his elbow. … Alex Colome is scheduled to make his first start for the Bulls today at 7:05 p.m. Colome was suspended for 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Durham Bulls (33-23) 5, Lehigh Valley IronPigs (29-26) 4
May 30, 2014
|Murphy, Ji, 1B||4||0||0||1||0||0||3||.238|
|Castro, L, RF-CF||4||1||2||0||0||0||0||.241|
|Cedeno, R, 2B-SS||4||2||2||0||0||1||0||.271|
|Smith, G, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.143|
TB: Gillies; Cedeno, R 2; Franco; Castro, L 2.
RBI: Gillies (10), Murphy, Ji (30).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Susdorf 2.
GIDP: Franco, Blanco.
Team RISP: 1-for-6.
Team LOB: 5.
E: Cedeno, R (4, fielding).
|Lee, H, SS||3||1||2||0||1||0||0||.238|
|Nix, J, DH||4||0||0||0||0||2||4||.238|
|Montgomery, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Lee, H (4, Smith, G), Mahtook (19, Smith, G).
HR: Casali (2, 6th inning off Smith, G, 1 on, 0 out).
TB: Casali 4; Sands; Olmedo; Belnome; Christian; Fontenot; Lee, H 3; Mahtook 2.
RBI: Fontenot (16), Mahtook 2 (27), Casali 2 (6).
2-out RBI: Fontenot.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Olmedo; Christian 2.
Team RISP: 2-for-10.
Team LOB: 7.
SB: Lee, H (7, 3rd base off Smith, G/Rupp).
E: Montgomery, M (2, throw), Mahtook (2, fielding), Lee, H (4, fielding).
DP: 2 (Lee, H-Fontenot-Belnome 2).
|Smith, G (L, 4-3)||6.0||8||5||4||2||4||1||3.96|
|Thompson (W, 3-0)||1.1||1||0||0||1||0||0||1.64|
|Yates (S, 14)||2.0||0||0||0||0||3||0||0.39|
Liberatore pitched to 3 batters in the 8th.
WP: Smith, G, Montgomery, M.
Balk: Smith, G.
Pitches-strikes: Smith, G 91-59, Rosenberg 21-14, Aumont 12-8, Montgomery, M 77-55, Thompson 17-10, Liberatore 14-8, Yates 26-21.
Groundouts-flyouts: Smith, G 4-5, Rosenberg 0-0, Aumont 1-1, Montgomery, M 8-3, Thompson 1-1, Liberatore 0-0, Yates 1-3.
Batters faced: Smith, G 29, Rosenberg 4, Aumont 3, Montgomery, M 21, Thompson 5, Liberatore 3, Yates 7.
Inherited runners-scored: Thompson 1-0, Yates 3-1.
Umpires: HP: Max Guyll. 1B: A.J. Johnson. 3B: Tom Honec.
Weather: 72 degrees, overcast.
Wind: 10 mph, In from CF.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
May 30, 2014
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media