Bulls' losing streak reaches seven
When things are going bad for a baseball team, any little thing - from a sore elbow to the failure to advance a runner — will turn into more big failures.
The Durham Bulls had that lesson hammered home Monday as they suffered their seventh consecutive loss.
Elbow irritation caused starting pitcher Mike Montgomery to leave the game after five solid innings with a lead and the Bulls bullpen had a rough day as Syracuse rallied to win 7-4 before 6,053 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Montgomery, with an 8-1 record and 3.38 ERA prior to Monday, has been one the International League’s top pitchers. He allowed a run in the second inning Monday but held Syracuse to two hits over his five innings as the Bulls built a 3-1 lead.
But Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said Montgomery’s balky elbow led the team to remove him an inning earlier that his pitch count (77) dictated.
“The only way to stop losing streaks? Pitching has to give you a chance,” Montoyo said. “That’s it. Somebody has to come throw you seven innings or eight innings and you have a chance. Our starter was doing OK and then his elbow hurt. So we had to take him out. We were going to use him one more inning.”
Fitting with how things are going for Durham these days, that inning that Montgomery couldn’t work proved critical. It was also one inning after the Bulls placed runners at first and third with no outs, looking to build on their 3-1 lead, but failed to score.
With Montgomery out when the Chiefs came to bat, Josh Lueke entered from the Durham bullpen and allowed two hits and a walk to the first three batters he faced to load the bases. The fourth Syracuse batter, Brandon Laird, lined a double off the left-field wall that drove in two runs to tie the game at 3.
Aided by catcher Ali Solis picking a runner off of third base, Leuke escaped with the score tied before pitching a scoreless seventh inning.
That changed when Brandon Gomes entered to pitch the eighth inning.
Syracuse pieced together a double and two singles to take a 4-3 lead and the Chiefs were just getting started. With two outs and two on, Gomes walked Brian Goodwin and Josh Johnson to force in a run. Jake Thompson replaced Gomes and surrendered a two-run single to Jeff Howell that gave Syracuse a 7-3 lead.
The Bulls scored once in the ninth but it wasn’t close to being enough runs to keep their losing streak from seven. In the meantime, Syracuse completed a four-game sweep of the Bulls at the DBAP and managed to win all eight games of the season series between the two division leaders.
“We haven’t been hitting the greatest,” Bulls third baseman Cole Figueroa said. “We put up some runs but not enough. It’s been pretty much every facet. Defense has been suspect at times. Starting pitching hasn’t really kept us in games. Bullpen. Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong It’s not just been one thing.”
Montgomery said he looked at Monday’s game as his most important start of the season. Syracuse handed him his lone defeat of the season in New York when the Chiefs pounded out 11 hits to score eight runs.
He also knew his team needed a strong start to help end the losing streak. But the elbow, which he said has bothered him over his last few starts, was uncomfortable again.
“I’ve had a little soreness the last couple of weeks,” Montgomery said. “I had a little more today. Nothing more than normal but basically I was at 77 pitches so they said let’s just go to the bullpen.”
Montgomery anticipates getting more treatment but he expects to pitch through the discomfort.
“I don’t think it’s anything serious,” Montgomery said. “It’s just something I’ve got to manage.”
At the same time, the Bulls hope they can manage to end their losing streak. Syracuse has left town with Indianapolis arriving to begin a four-game series at the DBAP tonight (7:05 p.m.).
Syracuse Chiefs (47-30) 7, Durham Bulls (43-36) 4
June 23, 2014
|Walters, Z, LF||3||2||1||1||2||0||3||.289|
|Johnson, Jo, 2B||2||0||0||1||2||0||0||.216|
|Cedeno, X, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Gonzalez, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Laird (16, Lueke), Rhymes (14, Gomes, B).
TB: Laird 2; Howell; Walters, Z; Souza 3; Rhymes 4.
RBI: Goodwin (30), Laird 2 (40), Walters, Z (32), Johnson, Jo (11), Howell 2 (7).
2-out RBI: Johnson, Jo; Howell 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Howell; Goodwin; Burriss; Laird.
GIDP: Walters, Z.
Team RISP: 4-for-14.
Team LOB: 7.
PO: Walters, Z (3rd base by Solis).
DP: 2 (Laffey-Burriss-Peterson, Johnson, Jo-Burriss-Peterson).
|Lee, H, SS||5||0||1||0||0||1||2||.215|
|Figueroa, C, 3B||5||1||2||2||0||2||2||.300|
|Nix, J, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||1||3||.215|
|Montgomery, M, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Gomes, B, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: Olmedo (7, Laffey), Casali (6, Laffey).
TB: Casali 2; Solis; Olmedo 2; Fontenot 2; Figueroa, C 2; Lee, H.
RBI: Figueroa, C 2 (29), Fontenot (25).
2-out RBI: Figueroa, C 2; Fontenot.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Casali; Nix, J; Solis 2.
GIDP: Fontenot, Figueroa, C.
Team RISP: 2-for-11.
Team LOB: 8.
DP: (Lee, H-Fontenot-Nix, J).
Pickoffs: Solis (Walters, Z at 3rd base).
|Cedeno, X (W, 3-0)||1.2||2||1||1||2||4||0||1.56|
|Stange (H, 4)||0.1||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.82|
|Gonzalez, M (S, 6)||1.0||0||0||0||1||1||0||2.41|
|Lueke (BS, 1)||2.0||3||2||2||1||2||0||2.57|
|Gomes, B (L, 0-1)||0.2||3||4||4||2||1||0||5.68|
WP: Laffey, Stange.
IBB: Mahtook (by Laffey).
HBP: Fontenot (by Laffey).
Pitches-strikes: Laffey 90-63, Cedeno, X 37-20, Stange 3-1, Gonzalez, M 13-7, Montgomery, M 77-46, Lueke 33-24, Gomes, B 35-21, Thompson 16-11.
Groundouts-flyouts: Laffey 7-1, Cedeno, X 0-1, Stange 0-1, Gonzalez, M 1-0, Montgomery, M 7-3, Lueke 1-2, Gomes, B 0-1, Thompson 3-0.
Batters faced: Laffey 26, Cedeno, X 9, Stange 1, Gonzalez, M 3, Montgomery, M 19, Lueke 9, Gomes, B 7, Thompson 6.
Inherited runners-scored: Stange 3-1, Thompson 3-2.
Umpires: HP: Joey Amaral. 1B: David Soucy. 3B: Carlos Torres.
Weather: 81 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 6 mph, In from CF.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
June 23, 2014