Knights thump Bulls 12-1
A game that began with a blast for the Durham Bulls ended with the shortest outing by a starting pitcher and their most lopsided loss, a 12-1 setback against the Charlotte Knights at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
In the bottom of the first, Kevin Kiermaier started to trot to first base before plate umpire Seth Buckminster called a strike to set up a full count. Kiermaier then blasted the next pitch from Knights starter Jason Berken (10-11) for a leadoff home run.
But that was the extent of the offensive highlights for the Bulls (74-47) in the opener of a three-game series with Charlotte (57-63).
After retiring the side in order in the first inning, including a pair of strikeouts, Bulls starter Merrill Kelly (6-3) didn't make it out of the second inning. In all, Charlotte sent 11 batters to the plate, notching seven runs before a double-play grounder by Travis Ishikawa ended the string of nine straight Knights reaching base.
"I don't know; I'm sure he's not happy," Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said when asked Kelly's reaction to being replaced so early. "He just gave me the ball; he didn't say anything. He pitched well.
"The game was over in the second inning — that's tough. They found the holes. There's nothing you can do."
Ishikawa, Mike McDade and Andy Wilkins opened the barrage with singles, the latter driving in the tying run. Tyler Greene drew a walk to load the bases, then Bulls first baseman Vince Belnome hesitated after field a grounder by Bryan Anderson before throwing the ball well over catcher Jesus Flores to allow McDade to score.
Adam Heisler's single plated Wilkins, and Marcus Semien added a two-run base hit to center. A walk by Steve Tolleson loaded the bases again, and Brent Morel singled in two more runs to end the night for Kelly. Bulls reliever Frank De Los Santos got Ishikawa to ground into the double play that drove in Tolleson, then McDade flied out to right to end the inning.
"It's just one of those days when stuff doesn't go your way," Kelly said. "A lot of those ground balls were just inches away from being fielded, turning a double play — that's baseball sometimes. Sometimes they go in the glove and sometimes they don't.
"I didn't feel like I pitched too bad. ... The balls weren't being hammered. ... You just try to forget about it as fast as you can. I've pitched well until tonight."
In the fourth, Ishikawa's one-out RBI double led to another pitching change with two runners on base. McDade greeted Durham's Adam Liberatore by hitting his first pitch over the fence in left-center for a 12-1 lead.
But Liberatore settled down after that, striking out the remaining five batters that he faced.
C.J. Riefenhauser followed Liberatore on the mound, pitching two hitless innings while striking out three. Catcher Craig Albernaz pitched the ninth inning, giving up one hit while notching one strikeout.
"They didn't have another hit until Albernaz pitched (the ninth inning)," Montoyo said. "(Liberatore) was working in the bullpen with (pitching coach Neil Allen) today, and I guess he found something.
"Riefenhauser pitched good; we needed an innings like that. It wasn't all bad."
NOTES — Belnome led the Bulls' eight-hit attack with a pair of singles, while McDade had three for the Knights. ... Durham reliever Josh Lueke was promoted to the Tampa Bay Rays after Thursday night's 7-3 win over Rochester snapped a season-high four-game losing streak, leaving the Bulls with 23 players on the roster. ... Matt Buschmann (5-1, 3.21 ERA) is scheduled to pitch today's game for the Bulls against Charlotte's (Nick McCully (2-1, 7.88). Durham will have J.D. Martin (14-4, 2.84) on the mound for Sunday's 5:05 p.m. game vs. Charlotte's Zach Stewart (5-13, 5.02).
Knights 12, Bulls 1
Semien ss|5|1|1|0|Kiermaier cf|3|1|1|1
Tolleson lf|4|2|1|1|Figueroa 3b|4|0|1|0
Morel 3b |5|1|2|2|Beckham ss|4|0|1|0
Ishikawa rf|5|2|2|1|Belnome 1b|4|0|2|0
McDade dh|5|2|3|3|Anderson lf|4|0|1|0
Wilkins 1b|4|1|1|1|Duncan dh|4|0|1|0
Greene 2b|3|1|1|0|Fontenot 2b|4|0|1|0
Anderson c|4|1|0|0|Giminez rf|3|0|0|0
Heisler cf|4|1|1|2|Flores c|3|0|0|0
DP—Charlotte 2, Durham 1. LOB—Charlotte 8, Durham 7. E—Belnome. 2B—Greene, Ishikawa, McDade. HR—McDade (9), Kiermaier (1).
Berken (W, 10-11)|6.0|1|1|1|1|4
Kelly (L, 6-3)|1.0|6|8|6|2|2
De Los Santos|2.1|4|3|3|0|0
Umpires: HP: Seth Buckminster. 1B: Brad Myers. 3B: Ian Fazio. T—2:54. A—8,832.