Bulls, Mahtook, find hitting groove Friday, inch towards title
The first-place Durham Bulls eliminated two International League South division foes with a 5-2 win over Gwinnett at Durham Bulls Athletic Park Friday, taking a big step toward wrapping up their seventh division title in eight years.
“Every game is going to be like this from now on, right down to the wire,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said of the stretch run. “We need to make every play. Good pitching and good defense—that’s the key, because we’re not going to kill people.”
The win mathematically eliminated the Braves and the Charlotte Knights from I.L. South contention. Combined with Norfolk’s 6-1 loss in Charlotte, it reduced the Bulls magic number for clinching the division to four. Any combination of four Bulls wins and Norfolk losses over the final 11 games will eliminate the Tides and give the Bulls the crown.
A night after coming within a strike of getting no-hit, the Bulls banged out nine safeties Friday. Cole Figueroa, Vince Belnome and Mayo Acosta had two hits each.
A night after breaking up that Norfolk bid for a no-no in the ninth inning, Mikie Mahtook continued his clutch hitting. Mahtook hit a two-run home run to left center in the fifth inning, putting the Bulls up 3-0. It was Mahtook’s ninth homer of the year and first since July 2.
“Every time he goes to the plate, I’m thinking that he’s due,” Montoyo said.
The streaky Mahtook hopes that the blast is the start of a power explosion. “It’s been a long time,” he said. “I started the year on a stretch like that too.” Mahtook didn’t hit his first home run until July 17, in his 36th game of the year, then hit eight in his next 40 games.
The Bulls added runs in the sixth and eighth innings. That was all the support Bulls starter Alex Colomé (7-5, 3.47) needed. The right-hander struck out seven over seven innings, winning for the third time in four decisions.
“That’s exactly what I want from Colomé, six and seven innings at a time,” Montoyo said of the sometime-Tampa Bay Ray, “because he’s a big leaguer.”
Adam Liberatore entered the game with a runner on and two outs in the eighth inning. Earlier in the week, Montoyo said Liberatore would take on a share of the closer’s role. Previous closer Josh Lueke is mired in a slump, allowing four runs and six hits in his last three innings.
Liberatore retired all four batters he faced, striking out two, earning his first save since April 5, 2013, with Double-A Montgomery. Liberatore has not allowed a run in his last 14 outings, dating back to July 17. His 17-1/3 inning scoreless streak is third best on the Bulls this season.
Durham Bulls (69-64) 5, Gwinnett Braves (59-74) 2
August 22, 2014
|Cunningham, T, CF||3||0||1||0||0||1||3||.287|
|Martin, C, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.200|
|a-Flied out for Lerud in the 8th.|
3B: Boggs (2, Colome), Reyes (2, Colome).
TB: Leonard; Reyes 3; Boggs 4; Kazmar; Constanza; Cunningham, T.
RBI: Martinez (19), Reyes (21).
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Kazmar; Terdoslavich 4; Lerud.
Team RISP: 0-for-11.
Team LOB: 9.
SB: Cunningham, T 2 (16, 2nd base off Colome/Acosta, M, 2nd base off Colome/Acosta, M).
E: Lerud (5, fielding).
PB: Yepez (2).
|Figueroa, C, DH||3||1||2||0||1||0||0||.292|
|Beckham, T, SS||3||1||1||0||1||2||0||.400|
|Acosta, M, C||3||0||0||1||0||2||4||.125|
2B: Christian (33, Martin, C), Olmedo (10, Martin, C), Belnome (24, Rodriguez).
HR: Mahtook (9, 5th inning off Martin, C, 1 on, 2 out).
TB: Olmedo 3; Figueroa, C 2; Belnome 3; Beckham, T; Christian 2; Mahtook 4.
RBI: Belnome (42), Mahtook 2 (61), Acosta, M (6), Olmedo (24).
2-out RBI: Mahtook 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Acosta, M 2; Moore 3; Christian; Franklin.
SF: Acosta, M.
Team RISP: 2-for-12.
Team LOB: 9.
SB: Mahtook (18, 2nd base off Martin, C/Lerud), Figueroa, C (3, 2nd base off Hoyt/Lerud).
E: Moore (2, fielding).
|Martin, C (L, 6-8)||5.1||6||4||4||4||8||1||3.62|
|Colome (W, 7-5)||7.0||6||2||1||2||7||0||3.47|
|Geltz (H, 11)||0.2||1||0||0||0||2||0||2.65|
|Liberatore (S, 1)||1.1||0||0||0||0||2||0||1.62|
HBP: Cunningham, T (by Colome), Reyes (by Colome).
Pitches-strikes: Martin, C 113-62, Hoyt 15-11, Rodriguez 12-9, Schlosser 12-7, Colome 102-69, Geltz 14-9, Liberatore 18-13.
Groundouts-flyouts: Martin, C 3-3, Hoyt 2-2, Rodriguez 0-0, Schlosser 1-1, Colome 9-4, Geltz 0-0, Liberatore 1-1.
Batters faced: Martin, C 26, Hoyt 5, Rodriguez 4, Schlosser 3, Colome 31, Geltz 3, Liberatore 4.
Inherited runners-scored: Hoyt 2-1, Rodriguez 1-0, Schlosser 1-0, Liberatore 1-0.
Umpires: HP: Jeff Gosney. 1B: Jon Byrne. 3B: Derek Mollica.
Weather: 86 degrees, cloudy.
Wind: 1 mph, In from LF.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
August 22, 2014
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media