Ex-N.C. State hurler Nathan Karns has ups, downs in Bulls' loss
With a runner on third and no outs in the third inning, former N.C. State and current Durham Bulls starter Nathan Karns struck out the heart of the Charlotte Knights lineup to keep the run from scoring.
It was a sign of Karns’ talent and why the Bulls traded for the 26-year-old righty before the season. But for the second straight game, the negatives outweighed the positives for the Bulls’ Opening Day starter.
Karnes allowed six runs and five extra-base hits in 4 2/3 innings as the Knights beat the Bulls 8-2 Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in front of 2,988.
“He’s got stuff good enough that if he stays consistent, the sky’s the limit,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We like him a lot. That’s why he’s our No. 1 starter, but he’s never pitched at this level before. He has to take it slowly.”
Karns (0-1), ranked as the eighth-best prospect in the Rays system by MLB.com, had given up six runs and a career-high seven walks in 2 2/3 innings in Durham’s season opener. His control was better Tuesday — he walked three while striking out nine — but he threw 90 pitches and couldn’t get out of the fifth inning.
“Mixed emotions about tonight,” Karns said. “Definitely not where I want to be, but at the same time I improved from last time. … It’s a matter of time before it starts clicking.”
Karns gave up a home run to Jordan Danks on the first pitch of the third inning as Charlotte (3-3) took the lead.
Durham (3-3) went ahead in the bottom half on a two-out, two-run double by Justin Christian after second baseman Carlos Sanchez extending the inning with a fielding error. Christian is the only Bull to record a hit in every game he’s played this season (five).
But the lead would be short-lived. The Knights’ first two batters scored in the top of the fourth, and a two-run double by Matt Davidson over the head of centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier made it 5-2 in the fifth.
“Everyone else is doing their job and right now I’m kind of struggling,” Karns said.
The Franklin, Pa. native was finally pulled with two outs after issuing a four-pitch walk to Blake Tekotte.
“Karns is a good-looking prospect but right now he’s going through the struggles of consistency,” Montoyo said. “He looks good one batter; the next batter he struggles. And that’s okay — that’s part of developing. He’ll get it.”
Before this month, Karns had never pitched above Double-A except for three starts for the Washington Nationals last season. As a freshman for the Wolfpack he went 3-2 with a 2.67 ERA in nine appearances and eight starts, then transferred to Texas Tech for two seasons.
“Good kid, good arm,” Montoyo said. “It’s fun to see kids like that, because they’re going to get it. It’s better to see a kid with a good arm struggle than to see somebody with nothing, really. He’ll get it. Just a couple of starts — don’t want to make a big deal out of it.”
Meanwhile, Charlotte opening day starter Scott Carroll (1-0) continued his hot start. After pitching six shutout innings in the season opener, the 29-year-old allowed just two unearned runs in six innings Tuesday as the Knights beat their in-state rivals for just the fourth time in the last 19 meetings.
BELIVEAU ON MOVE
Rays starter Matt Moore was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with elbow soreness, so lefty reliever Jeff Beliveau was recalled to Tampa Bay and catcher Mayo Acosta was activated and assigned to Durham. Beliveau, 27, has 23 games of Major League experience and was called up to Tampa four times last year. Acosta, 26, played nine games for Durham in 2012 and spent all of 2013 at Double-A Montgomery. He struck out as a pinch hitter in the ninth inning on Tuesday.
The Rays will still need a spot starter during Moore’s stint on the disabled list. Possible candidates include Durham starters Erik Bedard and Mike Montgomery and Tampa long reliever Cesar Ramos. Bedard, a 10-year major leage veteran, is not on the 40-man roster, so Tampa would have to outright a player if Bedard gets the call.
NOTES — Durham infielder Mike Fontenot went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. He had reached base safely in 18 straight regular-season games, the longest active streak in the International League. … The series continues today at 7:05 p.m. Enny Romero (0-1, 9.00) is scheduled to start for the Bulls against Charlotte’s Andre Rienzo (0-0, 0.00).
Charlotte Knights (4-2) 8, Durham Bulls (3-3) 2
April 8, 2014
|Danks, Jd, CF||4||1||1||2||0||2||0||.182|
|Sanchez, C, 2B||4||0||1||0||1||2||1||.208|
|Black, Da, 1B||4||1||0||0||1||2||2||.217|
|Mitchell, J, LF||2||0||0||1||1||1||3||.077|
2B: Saladino (2, Karns), Tekotte 2 (2, Karns, Sandoval), Davidson (5, Karns), Wilkins (1, Karns).
3B: Saladino (1, Sandoval).
HR: Danks, Jd (1, 3rd inning off Karns, 0 on, 0 out).
TB: Sanchez, C; Saladino 6; Davidson 4; Danks, Jd 4; Tekotte 4; Wilkins 2; Phegley.
RBI: Danks, Jd 2 (4), Saladino 3 (4), Mitchell, J (3), Wilkins 2 (2).
2-out RBI: Saladino.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Wilkins 2; Mitchell, J 3; Phegley.
SF: Saladino; Mitchell, J; Danks, Jd.
Team RISP: 3-for-12.
Team LOB: 8.
E: Sanchez, C (2, fielding).
Outfield assists: Tekotte (Olmedo at 2nd base), Mitchell, J (Olmedo at 1st base).
DP: 2 (Davidson-Sanchez, C-Black, Da, Mitchell, J-Sanchez, C-Black, Da).
|a-Struck out for Betemit in the 9th.|
2B: Christian (2, Carroll).
TB: Olmedo; Christian 2; Kiermaier; Price.
RBI: Christian 2 (5).
2-out RBI: Christian 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Belnome; Solis.
Team RISP: 1-for-4.
Team LOB: 3.
E: Solis (2, pickoff), Kiermaier (1, throw).
|Carroll (W, 2-0)||6.0||4||2||0||2||3||0||0.00|
|Karns (L, 0-1)||4.2||8||6||6||3||9||1||13.50|
Pitches-strikes: Carroll 89-54, Heath 34-22, Putnam 12-9, Karns 89-56, Liberatore 23-15, Oviedo 18-10, Sandoval 34-22.
Groundouts-flyouts: Carroll 9-4, Heath 0-2, Putnam 0-1, Karns 1-4, Liberatore 1-0, Oviedo 1-0, Sandoval 1-3.
Batters faced: Carroll 22, Heath 7, Putnam 3, Karns 25, Liberatore 5, Oviedo 3, Sandoval 10.
Inherited runners-scored: Liberatore 2-1.
Umpires: HP: Joseph Born. 1B: Jon Saphire. 3B: Ben May.
Weather: 66 degrees, partly cloudy.
Wind: 6 mph, Out to CF.
Venue: Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
April 8, 2014
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media