Let’s Play Two (More): Durham Bulls sweep Indianapolis Indians, move on to championship series

Photo by Elizabeth Matheson.

Just a quick one here. The Bulls beat Indianapolis last night, 2-1 at Indianapolis, to sweep the Indians and advance to the Governors’ Cup championship series. They’ll play the winner of the Pawtucket-Rochester series on the other side of the bracket. The Pawsox lead that series, two games to one. Game four is tonight in Pawtucket at 6:05 p.m. Game five would also be played at Pawtucket, if necessary.

Last night’s Bulls win was another “nailbiter,” as Charlie Montoyo would say. The Bulls took a 2-0 lead into the ninth inning. Closer Kirby Yates was unavailable, having saved the previous two games on Wednesday and Thursday, so Montoyo called on Juan Sandoval to get a two-inning save. Montoyo said after Thursday’s win that he would rely on Sandoval as a late-inning stopper. This was interesting for a number of reasons, not least that Sandoval had just returned to Durham after a two-month exile in Double-A Montgomery, where he pitched decently (but not great) as the Biscuits’ closer. Yet Sandoval was moved right to the front of the line when he was promoted back up to Durham before the last weekend of the regular season. Sandoval is older, thirty-two, and is a hard-throwing right-handed reliever. (See yesterday’s post for a little more on the preference for that profile in ninth-inning situations.) He, not Jeff Beliveau, got the call, and was asked to record six outs with a trip to the finals at stake.

Sandoval retired the side in order fairly easily in the eighth inning (although his deflection of a grounder forced shortstop Tim Beckham to make a tough play for the first out). But with one out in the ninth, a wild throw by Durham third baseman Cole Figueroa allowed the Indians’ Lucas May to advance to second base after his infield single. Pinch-hitter Ivan DeJesus, Jr. followed with a single to drive in May, and DeJesus was lifted for a pinch runner, Darren Ford, who stole second. With the tying run in scoring position, Sandoval got the biggest out of the game, retiring Chase D’Arnaud on a roller near the mound. Two down.

This play was not easy as it may seem. Sandoval has only one working eye (see this for why), and he doesn’t pick up much on the periphery. He and the Bulls were fortunate that he was able to track D’Arnaud’s grounder and throw him out. The gods then gave Figueroa another challenge when Robert Andino hit a tricky grounder short of third base, but this time Figueroa fielded the tough in-between hop and threw Andino out to end the series.

We now know, finally and definitely, how many more games remain to be played at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in this Bull City Summer: two. That makes a total of seventy-six for the season, the most, it turns out, that could possibly have been played. Somehow, that seems quite appropriate. Durham will host games one and two of the championship series on Tuesday and Wednesday, September 10 and 11. Be there. We will.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *