Strong starting pitching and timely hitting? Sound familiar?
The Rays’ Triple-A Affilliate, the Durham Bulls, did their big league club proud on Saturday night with a 3-2 victory over the Louisville Bats. The win secures Durham a chance to clinch the best-of-5 International League semifinal series Sunday night.
Jeff Niemann shut down the same Bats that stomped on the Bulls in Game 2 to the tune of 19 runs and 24 hits. Saturday night Niemann never let Louisville’s offense take off, as the former top pick fanned 11 and took a no-hitter into the eighth inning. Niemann allowed just two baserunners prior to Craig Tatum’s double to lead off the eighth.
“Jeff was throwing everything for strikes,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoya said in Sunday’s The News & Observer. “No one could look for anything from him because he was throwing everything for strikes. It was getting to the point where he had the no-hitter and I was going to have to take him out. He was getting to that pitch count. He made a lot of big pitches.”
On the other side of the plate, Jonny Gomes worked a lot of pitches. The outfielder and Major League veteran, Gomes took the 12th pitch of his first at-bat over the fence for a two-run homer. Jon Weber also went 2-for-4 with two runs scored for Durham.
The Bulls did all this despite a 19 minute power outtage at the stadium, something Niemann told MILB.com he had never seen in the middle of a game.
Juding from Saturday’s results the Bulls wouldn’t mind another brief power outtage on Sunday. They enter the game –also in Durham– with a shot to clinch a spot in the Governors’ Cup Finals. Right-hander Wade Davis will take the mound in the 5:05 p.m. contest.