Bulls bludgeon Johnson, Buffalo
When you’re hot, you’re hot and not even former National League All-Star Josh Johnson can do anything about it.
The Durham Bulls raked Johnson, in town on a Major League injury rehab assignment from the Toronto Blue Jays, for eight hits and six runs — all earned — in 4.2 innings in a 7-2 win Thursday night at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
The win was the Bulls’ fourth straight, all over visiting Buffalo, and marked the team’s first four-game series sweep since June 22-25, 2012, also over the Bisons.
Johnson, a two-time NL All-Star traded from the Miami Marlins to Toronto in a blockbuster off-season deal, was making his third injury rehab appearance and second start — both with Buffalo. He had begun his comeback with a three-inning relief appearance May 20 for Single-A Dunedin (Fla.).
“We’re swinging the bat good, and sometimes it doesn’t matter who’s pitching,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Johnson looked good. He just faced an offense that’s swinging the bat well. ... These guys have played against major leaguers before; they’re not intimidated.”
The Bulls, who now lead the International League in hitting, taking over the top spot from Buffalo, got two RBIs apiece from Leslie Anderson (2-for-4, home run), Tim Beckham and Cole Figueroa.
Gutty pitching from starter and winner J.D. Martin (6 innings, nine hits, two runs) and a perfect three innings of relief from Steve Geltz nailed down the win.
Montoyo said Martin and Geltz were the only pitchers available to him since parent Tampa Bay was likely to call up one of his pitchers later Thursday to replace injured starter David Price in the Rays’ rotation.
“You’ve got to give it to J.D. Martin,” Montoyo said, adding that he pushed the righthander to his pitch-count limit.
The Bisons broke on top 2-0 on a first-inning triple by Moises Sierra and a sacrifice fly by Luis Jimenez. Mauro Gomez followed with a solo home run into the seats in right-center.
The Bulls halved the lead in their half on an RBI single by Leslie Anderson. Chances of a big inning after leadoff singles by Brandon Guyer and Jason Bourgeois fizzled when Johnson sawed off Vince Belnome’s bat and converted his comeback grounder into a 1-6-3 double play.
Johnson walked Wil Myers, and Anderson’s two-out single put runners on first and second before Johnson struck out Tim Beckham to end the threat.
The Bulls took advantage of Johnson’s wildness to take a 5-2 lead in the bottom of the third. Johnson walked Belnome and Myers with one out, and both scored on Beckham’s two-out double to center. Johnson then walked Mike Fontenot, and Cole Figueroa followed with a two-run double to right.
Martin escaped a major jam in the top of the fourth. After loading the bases with two outs on a pair of singles and a walk he got No. 9 hitter Ryan Goins to ground into a force play to end the inning.
The Bulls picked up a run in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out double by Mike Fontenot off the Blue Monster in left. It scored Myers, who had led off the inning with a double.
Myers, who walked in his first two at-bats, impressed Montoyo.
“He’s a five-tool kid," Montoyo said. "Whenever he goes up (to the majors), he’s never going to come back.”
That was it for Johnson, who turned the ball over to relief pitcher Chad Beck.
Beck walked Figueroa, and Craig Albernaz singled to center but a strong throw by Sierra to catcher Josh Thole nailed Fontenot at the plate for the third out.
Anderson homered to make it 7-2 in the bottom of the seventh.
NOTES — Martin (7-2) allowed a pair of hits but no runs in each of his last three innings before giving way to reliever Geltz to open the seventh. Geltz picked up his seventh save. … Montoyo expected his family to be on hand Thursday but their arrival was delayed. His wife and two sons will spend the rest of the summer in Durham. Son Alex has had major health issues and multiple heart surgeries, but Montoyo smiled and said he’s healthy enough to travel now. … Buffalo is 2-18 since 2009 in games at the DBAP … The Bulls open a four-game home series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre today at 7:05 p.m. The top N.Y. Yankees farm club will be here Saturday at 7:05, Sunday at 5:05 and Monday at 1:05 p.m. It’ll be the RailRiders’ only visit to the DBAP this season. … Former Bulls righthander Alex Colome made his Major League debut for the parent Tampa Bay Rays at Miami Thursday, pitching 5.2 innings, allowing one unearned run on five hits, striking out seven and walking two. Tampa Bay led 2-1 when he was relieved in the sixth and the Rays won 5-2. Montoyo and the Bulls were keeping up with their ex-teammate’s debut in the clubhouse.
Bulls 7, Bisons 2
Buffalo |AB |R |H |RBI || Durham |AB |R |H |RBI
Negrych, 2B |4 |0 |0 |0 | Guyer, LF |4 |1 |2 |0
Sierra, CF |4 |1 |1 |0 | Bourgeois, CF |5 |0 |1 |0
Jimenez, L, 1B |3 |0 |1 |1 | Belnome, DH |3 |1 |0 |0
Gomez, M, DH |4 |1 |2 |1 | Myers, RF |2 |2 |1 |0
Thole, C |4 |0 |0 |0 | Anderson, Le, 1B |4 |1 |2 |2
LaRoche, 3B |4 |0 |2 |0 | Beckham, T, SS |4 |1 |1 |2
Langerhans, RF |4 |0 |2 |0 | Fontenot, 2B |2 |1 |1 |1
Nanita, LF |3 |0 |0 |0 | Figueroa, C, 3B |3 |0 |1 |2
Goins, SS |4 |0 |1 |0 | Albernaz, C |4 |0 |1 |0
Totals |34 |2 |9 |2 | Totals ||31 |7 |10 |7
SF: Jimenez, L. LOB – Buffalo 8, Durham 7. 2B: Langerhans, Beckham, Figueroa, Fontenot. HR: Gomez, M (11), Anderson, Le (7).
Buffalo |IP |H |R |ER |BB |SO
Johnson, Jo (L, 0-1) |4.2 |8 |6 |6 |3 |3
Beck |1.1 |1 |0 |0 |1 |0
McGowan |2.0 |1 |1 |1 |1 |4
Durham |IP |H |R |ER |BB |SO |HR |ERA
Martin, J (W, 7-2) |6.0 |9 |2 |2 |2 |4 |1 |3.59
Geltz (S, 2) |3.0 |0 |0 |0 |0 |3 |0 |2.87
HBP: Fontenot (by Johnson, Jo), Fontenot (by Johnson, Jo).
T: 2:41. Att: 7,982.