Durham Bulls

Confident Durham Bulls keep rolling with win over Pawtucket

With their 5-4 win over Pawtucket Sunday, the Bulls have won five of their last six games. They’re loose, and having fun riding the wave.

Just ask shortstop Willy Adames, who rapped three singles, posted the game-winning RBI, and made a sparkling double play off a sizzling liner that left him laughing in the dirt.

“It was funny because when I got the ball I kind of threw it hard to second base,” surprising Kean Wong, Adames said.

“It was funny the way he caught it. But thank God we could make the double play and we could finish the inning,” Adames said.

The double play came at a crucial moment in the game.

Diego Castillo came on in relief in the seventh inning for the Bulls in his first appearance since being called up from Double A Montgomery on Saturday. He yielded a pair of singles and issued a walk to load the bases with one out. PawSox shortstop Ryan Court hammered a sharp liner that a diving Adames speared, and doubled up catcher Dan Butler before he could scramble back to tag second base.

“I’ve been working a lot on my defense,” as well as spending extra time in the batting cages with Bulls hitting instructor Ozzie Timmons, Adames said.

“It’s been my stance. I couldn’t figure it out, but it’s getting better every day,” he said.

“Baseball is confidence, so when you have confidence you can hit anything,” said Bulls manager Jared Sandberg. “It’s only a matter of time before he gets it rolling again because he’s a tremendous player, and we know where he’s going to be at the end of the season.”

Sandberg said it was a good win for starter Ryan Yarbrough (4-3) after he gave up a pair of homers and fell behind 3-1 before a 24-minute rain delay in the middle of the third inning stalled the visitors’ momentum. PawSox starter Jalen Beeks (0-1) took the loss.

“Yarbrough kind of got elevated a little bit, and he came out and pitched as deep as he did after the delay and as well as he did,” Sandberg said. “It was a huge boost for him because that game could have gone either direction the way he was pitching.”

“I’m definitely happy with how this one ended, so I will just try to take that into the next start, keep it up and keep it going,” Yarbrough said of reclaiming a winning record.

“It’s more about team wins at this point,” Yarbrough said. “That’s all we care about, winning games.”

He said he felt good about dispatching the PawSox three up and three down in the third inning, and the brief rain delay helped spark a change of mentality.

In the first inning Court doubled. Left fielder Bryce Brentz got a green light on a 3-0 count, and walloped his ninth home run of the season, over the left-center field portion of the Blue Monster, for a 2-0 Pawtucket lead.

Designated hitter Allen Craig hit a first-pitch, leadoff homer in the second inning to extend the lead to 3-0. Bulls center fielder Mallex Smith made a nice play to end the inning, gunning out PawSox second baseman Heiker Meneses attempting to stretch a single into a double.

The Bulls got one run back in the bottom of the second. Right fielder Shane Peterson doubled to left center and slid just ahead of Brentz’s attempted putout throw. First baseman Casey Gillaspie knocked an RBI single to left field, scoring Peterson.

The Bulls’ bats were rejuvenated after the rain delay. They sent nine batters to the plate, and seized a 4-3 lead in the third inning.

Wong singled to center, moved up to second on a sacrifice bunt by Smith, and to third on a single by Adames. Left fielder Jake Bauers hit an infield single to score Wong and push Adames to second.

Third baseman Patrick Leonard, in his worst slump of the season, was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Leonard was 0-13 with eight strikeouts in his last three games, and fanned in his first at-bat Sunday. He’s now 0-16 over four games.

Peterson hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Adames with the tying run. Designated hitter Mike Marjama walked to load the bases, and Gillaspie walked to score Bauers with the go-ahead run.

In the bottom of the seventh inning Smith singled to center, stole second, and moved up to third on a wild pitch by reliever Ty Buttrey. Adames ripped the game-winning RBI single to center to score Smith.

Trailing 5-3, Pawtucket threatened in its final at-bat. Bulls reliever Jeff Ames walked leadoff batter Jantzen Witte, and Butler followed with a single. Court singled to score Ames. With runners on second and third and two out, Ames whiffed first baseman Steve Selsky to pick up his second save this season.