Bulls' hopes for 2nd straight comeback thwarted by Braves
Slugger Ernesto Mejia banged a pair of record-setting home runs, and MLB-bound Ervin Santana got the win in a rocky start as the Gwinnett Braves defeated the Durham Bulls 12-7 Friday night.
Mejia’s three homers in the season’s first two games give the first baseman a franchise record 55 homers for Gwinnett. His 3 RBI set a new franchise career record of 181.
“Yesterday and today we had trouble throwing strikes, and that’s a good hitting team, so if you put them on base plus not throwing strikes you get scores like this,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. Bulls starter and loser Enny Romero did not use a good pitch selection against some batters, especially power-hitting Mejia, Montoyo said.
“For us to pitch in the big leagues you have to get guys like that out. This guy (Romero) may go to the big leagues tomorrow, and he may face Big Papi (Boston’s David Ortiz), you know. If you’re having problems getting that guy (Mejia), Big Papi’s going to be pretty tough.”
Among bright spots for the Bulls were shortstop Cole Figueroa reaching base on a pair of singles and three walks, reaching safely on seven consecutive at-bats over two games. Center fielder Kevin Kiermaier was 3-5 with a two-run homer.
“I am glad that we keep bouncing back. We’re not giving up, and that’s a sign of a good team,” Montoyo said after the Bulls came back for a second straight night from a huge deficit.
The Bulls were down 6-2 Thursday in their season opener before winning 7-6.
On Friday, the Braves jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Right fielder Joey Terdoslavich lined a two-out single to right, and Mejia hammered a two-run homer to left center.
They added four runs to go up 6-0 in the fourth on three hits and a pair of errors.
The Bulls broke up Santana’s shutout in the bottom of the fourth when Kiermaier launched a towering homer to left to make it 6-1. It was his second homer in two nights. Santana, expected to be called up by the Atlanta Braves, have up eight hits and six runs, five of them earned.
Gwinnett added another pair of runs in the fifth off reliever Juan Carlos Oviedo. La Stella singled to left and Salcedo slammed a two-run homer to left field.
The Bulls made it 8-3 in the bottom of the inning. Solis singled up the middle and Christian powdered an RBI triple in the right field gap. Christian scored on a fielder’s choice by third baseman Vince Belnome.
The Bulls cut the lead to 8-6 and chased Santana in a three-run sixth. Kiermaier led off with a bunt single, right fielder Mikie Mahtook walked, and Solis drove them home with a pop double down the right field line. Christian reached first on an error, scoring Solis.
Mejia lofted a solo homer in the seventh on a 3-0 pitch down the middle, giving the Braves a 9-6 lead.
The Bulls got that run back in the bottom of the seventh, making it 9-7. Braves reliever Cody Martin gave up a single to Kiermaier, hit two batters and walked another to score Kiermaier, but Christian hit into a double play to end the inning.
“He’s hitting .400. I want him to hit. He just happened to hit a ground ball,” Montoyo said of Christian swinging away on the first pitch. “You could second guess. If he was hitting .100 you have him take a pitch.”
The Braves had a three-run rally in the eighth to end the scoring at 12-7.
NOTES — Santana was pitching a tuneup start to prepare for his debut with the parent Atlanta Braves. He signed a $14.1 million, one-year free-agent deal with the Braves in March and had missed much of spring training. ... Belnome had a short stay in the big leagues, being a suprise call-up to Tampa Bay just before Thursday’s season opener, but he was returned to the Bulls in time for Friday’s game. He did not get into the Rays’ game on Thursday. ... Juan Carlos Ovieda was sent to the Bulls on an injury rehab assignment from the Rays for Friday’s game.
Durham Bulls (1-1) 7, Gwinnett Braves (1-1) 12
April 4, 2014
|Cunningham, T, CF||5||1||1||2||0||0||1||.125|
|Mejia, E, 1B||5||2||2||3||0||1||2||.429|
|La Stella, 2B||4||2||2||0||1||1||0||.429|
|Santana, E, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Martin, C, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
2B: La Stella (1, Romero), Terdoslavich (1, Sandoval).
HR: Mejia, E 2 (3, 1st inning off Romero, 1 on, 2 out; 7th inning off Geltz, 0 on, 1 out), Salcedo (1, 5th inning off Oviedo, 1 on, 1 out).
TB: Mejia, E 8; Lerud; Salcedo 4; Cunningham, T; Constanza; Gosselin; Greene; La Stella 3; Terdoslavich 4.
RBI: Mejia, E 3 (6), Greene (1), Constanza 2 (2), Cunningham, T 2 (2), Salcedo 2 (2), Terdoslavich (2).
2-out RBI: Mejia, E 2; Cunningham, T; Terdoslavich.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Mejia, E.
Team RISP: 3-for-6.
Team LOB: 4.
E: Terdoslavich (1, fielding), La Stella (1, fielding), Lerud (1, catcher interference).
DP: 2 (Greene-La Stella-Mejia, E, La Stella-Greene-Mejia, E).
|Figueroa, C, SS||2||0||2||0||3||0||0||.800|
|a-Singled for Fontenot in the 9th.|
3B: Christian (1, Santana, E).
HR: Kiermaier (2, 4th inning off Santana, E, 0 on, 2 out).
TB: Solis 2; Christian 4; Kiermaier 6; Betemit; Figueroa, C 2; Price.
RBI: Kiermaier (4), Christian 2 (2), Belnome (1), Solis 3 (3).
2-out RBI: Kiermaier.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Betemit 2; Belnome; Sands; Christian.
GIDP: Sands, Christian.
Team RISP: 1-for-11.
Team LOB: 12.
SB: Christian (1, 2nd base off Santana, E/Lerud).
E: Christian (1, missed catch), Solis (1, interference), Figueroa, C (1, throw).
Outfield assists: Kiermaier (Gosselin at 2nd base).
|Santana, E (W, 1-0)||5.1||8||6||5||4||3||1||8.44|
|Severino (H, 1)||0.2||0||0||0||1||2||0||0.00|
|Martin, C (S, 1)||3.0||3||1||1||1||4||0||3.00|
|Romero (L, 0-1)||4.0||6||6||4||3||4||1||9.00|
WP: Santana, E.
HBP: Mahtook (by Martin, C), Solis (by Martin, C).
Pitches-strikes: Santana, E 93-50, Severino 11-6, Martin, C 56-36, Romero 81-50, Oviedo 14-11, Geltz 34-19, Sandoval 32-24.
Groundouts-flyouts: Santana, E 11-2, Severino 0-0, Martin, C 3-1, Romero 4-3, Oviedo 1-0, Geltz 1-3, Sandoval 5-1.
Batters faced: Santana, E 28, Severino 3, Martin, C 15, Romero 21, Oviedo 5, Geltz 7, Sandoval 10.
Inherited runners-scored: Severino 1-0.
Umpires: HP: Toby Basner. 1B: Jon Saphire. 3B: Ben May.
Weather: 80 degrees, clear.
Wind: 13 mph, Out to CF.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
April 4, 2014
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media