They say a lot of times that the last out can be the hardest one to get. Never was that more evident than in Durham Thursday night. In an 8-3 Columbus win, the Clippers scored seven of those runs with two outs on the scoreboard. Now the Bulls head to Columbus in a 2-0 hole, needing to sweep three games on the road to win the series.
It started in the first for Bulls right-hander Chris Archer. After walking leadoff hitter Tim Fedroff, Archer struck out Travis Buck and Jared Goedert, mixing in a wild pitch that sent Fedroff to second. Archer then got a fly ball to right that by all accounts could, and probably should, have been handled by Russ Canzler. The ball went off his glove and Fedroff came in to score. Chad Huffman came up and Archer made his only obvious mistake of the night and gave up a two run homer over the Blue Monster in left. The Clippers had a three run lead and wouldn’t look back.
The Bulls rallied in the bottom of the first scoring two runs to cut the deficit to one. It looked like they had the chance to put up more though, the other story of the night. While Columbus did their damage with runners on and two outs, the Bulls struggled in similar situations. They finished the night 2-12 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base. One of those hits was an infield dribbler in the ninth by Nevin Ashley and Daniel Mayora, on third at the time, had no chance to score.
Archer showed some flashes of brilliance and the Rays have to be excited about what he brings to the table in raw talent alone. He finished with 11 strikeouts in just five and two thirds innings pitched. Three of those came in the third, when Beau Mills and Chad Huffman led off the inning with back to back singles giving the Clippers first and third with nobody out. Archer struck out the next three hitters, all of them going down swinging.
Unlike game one, the Bulls had their chances in game two. In the second and the eighth innings, they had their first two hitters reach base only to score one run between the two opportunities. The run came on a double play grounder from Canzler that pushed a run across but stemmed any rally the Bulls were trying to get started.
So, the already difficult task Durham faced after losing game one gets even harder after losing game two. They’ll give the ball to left-hander Alex Torres and see if he can keep their championship hopes alive. Torres faced the Clippers back in May and the Bulls hope he fares better this time around. He gave up five runs in five innings and the Bulls lost 5-3. It comes back to the offense for Durham. They have got to get on the board early and give themselves some confidence. If they can do that, Torres will keep them in the game and hopefully get them through to play another day.