Walk-off wonder: Gimenez' HR caps four-run Bulls rally
A much-needed day off awaited the Durham Bulls, a tired team closing in on yet another division championship.
Chris Gimenez boosted their mood and will make that day off even sweeter.
The Bulls catcher crushed a three-run home run in bottom of the ninth inning, capping a four-run rally that allowed Durham to beat Charlotte 5-2 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Walk-off wins are always welcomed of course. But this one, coming at the end of 24 games in a row without a day off, carried extra fun for Durham.
“There’s nothing like a good walk-off win to get you going,” Gimenez said.
That it came from the well-liked Gimenez, who is batting .225 and had only one other home run this season, only added to the frivolity in the Bulls clubhouse after the game.
“I wasn’t expecting it,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I was expecting a line drive. But he hit it to the deepest part (of the park). We knew the moment he hit it. That was very exciting.”
The Bulls (76-47) entered Sunday with a magic number of 12 to clinch their sixth International League South Division championship in the last seven years. With J.D. Martin, the league leader in wins (14) on the mound, their chances of lowering that number looked good.
But even though Martin pitched well again, Durham trailed 2-1 entering the ninth inning.
With one out, Durham’s Leslie Anderson started the game-winning rally with a single off Charlotte’s Taylor Thompson.
Shelley Duncan with an average near Gimenez at .223, followed with a line-drive double to left field that put runners at second and third. Thompson hit Mike Fontenot with a pitch to load the bases.
Kevin Kiermaier, who has spent most of this season at Double-A Montgomery, drove a fly ball deep to centerfield. Charlotte’s Adam Heisler ran it down for an out, but Anderson trotted home to tie the game at 2-2.
Up next was Gimenez, who was hitless on the day. He decided it wasn’t the time to be timid.
“I told myself I was going to be aggressive if there was a pitch up in the zone,” Gimenez said. “That’s one thing I felt the last couple of weeks. I wasn’t being aggressive. Everything has been bad. I’ve just been feeling for it instead of going out there and being aggressive and letting it fall into place.”
Thompson’s left a pitch up in the strike zone and Gimenez lashed it far over the wall in left-centerfield to give the Bulls the win.
“That was great, especially the way we won it,” Martin said. “Winning a game like that is awesome, especially going into a day off.”
Martin pitched 6 2/3 innings but once again was unable to secure his 15th win. The Bulls gave him a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning when Cole Figueroa scored on an errant pickoff throw with two outs.
But Martin’s own throwing error in the sixth inning allowed Charlotte to tie the game a 1-1. After Martin misfired the throw to first when Heisler hit a slow roller toward the mound, Charlotte’s Steven Tolleson drove in the tying run with a two-out single.
The Knights moved in front in the seventh inning. With one on and two outs, Martin allowed a single to Bryan Anderson to put runners at first and second.
Jeff Beliveau came in an allowed Heisler to single and drive in the run that put Charlotte up 2-1.
After Martin gave up five hits over his 6 2/3 innings of work, Beliveau allowed four hits over his 1 1/3 innings. But the left-handed reliever kept the Knights from adding to their lead.
That allowed the Bulls to rally in the ninth and enjoy their day off a little more.
Charlotte |AB |R |H |RBI || Durham |AB |R |H |RBI ||
Semien, SS |5 |0 |1 |0 | Figueroa, |4 |1 |1 |0
Tolleson, 2B |5 |0 |2 |1 | Beckham, SS |4 |0 |0 |0 |
Morel, 3B |4 |0 |0 |0 | Belnome, 1B |4 |0 |0 |0 |
Ishikawa, LF |3 |0 |0 |0 | Anderson, LF |2 |1 |1 |0 |
McDade, 1B |4 |0 |1 |0 | Duncan, DH |4 |0 |1 |0 |
Wilkins, DH |4 |1 |2 |0 | Albernaz, PR |0 |1 |0 |0 |
Earley, RF |4 |0 |0 |0 | Fontenot, 2B |2 |1 |0 |0 |
Anderson, C |4 |0 |1 |0 | Kiermaier, CF|3 |0 |0 |1 |
Heisler, CF |4 |1 |2 |1 | Gimenez, C |4 |1 |1 |3 |
||| Frey, RF |3 |0 |2 |0 |
Totals |37 |2 |9 |2 |Totals |30 |5 |6 |4 |
Durham|000|100|004 – 5
(Two outs when winning run scored)
E: Stewart, Z (3), Martin (7). LOB: Charlotte 9, Durham 4. 2B: Duncan (20). HR: Gimenez (2). SF: Kiermaier
Charlotte |IP |H |R |ER |BB |SO |
Stewart, Z |7.0 |2 |1 |0 |3 |5 |
Petricka (H, 2) |1.0 |1 |0 |0 |0 |0 |
Thompson, Ta (BS, 1)(L, 1-1) |0.2 |3 |4 |4 |0 |0
Durham |IP |H |R |ER |BB |SO ||
Martin, J |6.2 |5 |2 |1 |0 |6 |
Beliveau |1.1 |4 |0 |0 |0 |2 |
Geltz (W, 4-3) |1.0 |0 |0 |0 |0 |1 |
WP: Martin 2. T: 2:58. A: 7,591.