The Durham Bulls haven’t looked like much of a playoff team this week as they’ve endured a four game losing streak. The week has had everything, from an extra inning loss on Tuesday to a 10-4 blowout last night, where they used an infielder to close out the ninth rather than work another reliever. To J.J. Furmaniak’s credit he allowed just one base runner on a walk and recorded a strikeout.
Tonight they gave the ball to talented right-hander Chris Archer. Archer was a part of the Matt Garza deal with the Chicago Cubs. The fact that Bulls are looking to the 23 year old to stop the skid is surprising. The fact he is even in Durham may be more surprising.
He has been up and down this season for Double A Montgomery, but was promoted earlier this week, even after giving up five runs and five walks in a start on Monday. Control has been the biggest issue this year, as no one doubts the talent of his arm. The pre-season 27th ranked minor league prospect by Baseball America had 80 walks in 134 1/3 innings in Double A. He also had 118 strikeouts, so the ability is there. His ERA was 4.42 not a typical number for somebody getting promoted.
Those same control issues surfaced with five walks tonight against the Charlotte Knights, but the talent was evident also. Archer threw 96 pitches, had six strikeouts, and picked up a win the Bulls desperately needed. None of those strikeouts was better than his sixth inning punch out of Gookie Dawkins. After setting him up with a fastball, Archer came back and froze him with an off speed pitch on the outside corner.
With the win, the Bulls can maintain their three game lead over the Gwinnett Braves. The Rays got a look at a hot prospect in a big game situation. The fans, who braved the remnants of Hurricane Irene through the first half of the game, saw an end to a four game losing streak. It sounds like everyone comes out on top tonight.