At the last minute Durham decided to make this one interesting, but Diego Castillo held on and saved the day as the Bulls defeated Norfolk 3-2.
After suffering their most lopsided loss of the season Friday night, Durham (80-52) played like a first-place team in their second game of a three-game series with the Tides (62-71).
Starting pitcher Yonny Chirinos got the team off to a strong start, giving up just one hit in his six innings of work. Norfolk’s defense wasn’t too bad, either, keeping the Bulls off the board until the bottom of the fourth inning. All it took was one swing to get things going for Durham, and as it turned out, that would be enough.
With Trevor Plouffe (walk) and Johnny Field on base, Taylor Featherston blasted his fourth home run this season to put the Bulls 3-0. It was the first three-run homer of the year for Featherston.
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“I really just went in looking for something and letting it travel,” Featherston said. “I stuck to it, got what I was looking for and put a good swing on it. Lucky enough that was all we needed. Good teams find a way to win it every night and fortunately I was that guy tonight.”
Durham has found interesting ways to collect wins this week. Thursday, when they clinched, they picked up the win while only collecting one hit. Featherston’s one hit doesn’t count as an earned run, but the final result was the same. The Bulls improve to 44-26 at home, the best home record in the league. This current win was in jeopardy in the bottom of the ninth.
Castillo took over for Chaz Roe (2IP, 5 K’s) and gave up a walk and two singles to load the bases with no outs. He then gave up consecutive singles to Pedro Alvarez and J.J. Hardy to make it a 3-2 game. Castillo buckled down to strike out Mike Yastremski and the defense picked up the final two outs to secure the win.
“Diego did a nice job of making some pitches,” Durham manager Jared Sandberg said. “It was a gutsy performance by him.”
Chirinos improved to 12-5 overall, continuing to rise to the occasion when called upon. After going through most of their bullpen Friday night, Sandberg knew he needed Castillo to go deep into the game.
“He’s done that for the most part all year long and has been very effective,” Sandberg said. “Another one of Yonny’s tremendous outings.”
The entire outing was a much better show than the Bulls put on 24 hours prior, where they looked like they were still in celebration mode after clinching the division Thursday night. Featherston said the team was determined to come out and have a much better showing for the 10,983 fans in attendance.
“Good teams bounce back,” Featherston said. “Friday left a bad taste in our mouths, but you have another one rolling around, so you have to flush it and get back to work. This one is over and tomorrow we will prepare for another one and the show goes on.”
Durham and Norfolk conclude their series at 5:05 p.m. on Sunday. Burch Smith (0-1) gets the start for the Bulls. Tyler Wilson (6-8) will start for the Tides.