In baseball sometimes the ball bounces your way. Other times, even when it literally bounces into your glove, it’s just not your day.
Two plays, or errors, in the field, almost similar, were the difference in Durham’s 3-1 home loss to Columbus on Thursday. The two mishaps by the Bulls allowed the Clippers to score two runs and take the four game series from Durham (21-11) at the DBAP. Less than 12 hours after finishing a wild 11-inning contest, Columbus (14-18) earned this one in nine, even though two of their three runs were gift wrapped.
“We were a little unlucky at the end,” Bulls’ skipper Jared Sandberg said. “We hit some balls hard, but a couple of base running mistakes a couple of innings … I’m not making any excuses but we were a little unlucky. They were luckier than we were.”
Durham and Columbus matched hits (9), but the Clippers got some separation in the sixth, going up two runs for the final margin. Ronny Rodriquez hit one to second baseman Kean Wong, who couldn’t hold onto the ball before Rodriquez reached first. That base hit allowed Chris Colabello to score, giving Columbus its first lead of the day. The very next play was nearly identical. Adam Moore hit one directly to Willy Adames, who also had trouble hanging onto the ball as he attempted to make the throw, allowing another runner to cross home plate.
“I’ve been feeling pretty good on defense but today I made an error that caused a run,” Adames said after the game. “Sometimes it happens. The runner was almost on the base and I tried to rush a little bit and lost the ball.”
It was Adames, the Tampa Bay Rays No. 1 prospect, who got the Bulls on the scoreboard first, hitting a solo home run, his second of the season, in the third inning for Durham’s only run of the game. He went 2 for 4 against the Clippers, giving the 21-year-old six multi-hit games this season. Sandberg said the staff tweaked his stance a bit, and Adames, who was batting at the bottom of the order Wednesday night, showed the adjustment paid off by sending one over the fence. Adames was hoping that would get something started throughout the rest of the lineup.
“Anytime you get a home run or hit the ball hard it’s a pretty good start to get hot,” Adames said.
Two more singles — one each from Jake Bauers and Patrick Leonard — followed the home run by Adames in the third, but the Bulls only managed three more hits the rest of the way. Durham went three straight innings without a hit, while the Clippers picked up four in the sixth, just enough to pull away.
Columbus tied the game at one in the fourth when Richie Shaffer scored Bradley Zimmer with a single. The loss by Durham taints another solid performance on the mound by Bulls’ starter Brent Honeywell, the No.2 prospect in the Rays organization. Honeywell went six innings, striking out 10 batters. Asked what he had working for him and he replied, modestly, “everything, I guess.”
His manager didn’t disagree.
“It was very impressive,” Sandberg said. “As far as stuff goes, it was impressive, swing and miss stuff. He had good control of all his pitches. His has grown quite a bit.”
Like his last start at the DBAP, Honeywell was put in a tough position, with runners on the corners and one out. Sandberg came to the mound, had a brief chat with his hurler, and left Honeywell out there to finish strong. The next batter he faced popped out, then Honeywell struck out Moore to end the inning. The Georgia native said the moment was very similar to the take he and Sandberg had on the mound versus Syracuse last month.
“He doesn’t really say much,” Honeywell said in reference to his coaches visit to the mound. “He gives me a little feedback on the hitters coming up, nothing too serious. I tried to give my team the best chance to win. Sometimes you fall short.”