As they hope to defend their International League championship, the Durham Bulls handed the ball to Enny Romero for Game 1. The results were not good, and the Bulls begin the series down 1-0 in a first-to-three series.
Triple-A International League Championship Series: Pawtucket Red Sox 3, Durham Bulls 2
Enny Romero entered 2014 as one of the Tampa Bay Rays’ top pitching prospects and will exit it as one of their biggest question marks. In the regular season, Romero went just 5-11 with a 4.50 ERA, and while his peripheral statistics were somewhat better, the Rays to be hoping for more from him. After all, he had finally added weight to his projectable frame and they thought that adding strength was the last thing he needed to hone in his command. On the whole, though, he was extremely inconsistent, and he continued his fluctuating performance in the Bulls’ playoff game.
Romero lasted just 3 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, striking out 2 while walking 1. He labored mightily, using 77 pitches in those three frames, and the Bulls simply had to get him out of there. Doug Mathis was dominant behind him, allowing just 1 hit while striking out 4 in 3 innings, and Cory Burns tossed 2 shutout frames to end the game, but Romero’s early departure left the team in a tough spot.
Mikie Mahtook had both RBI for the Bulls on a two-run single in the third inning. That was all they could get off Edwin Escobar, one of the prospects who the Boston Red Sox acquired in the Jake Peavy trade. The other minor leaguer from the deal, Heath Hembree, tossed 1.1 shutout innings to earn the save in the game. A few other Bulls did have strong performances, with Jeremy Moore going 2 for 3 with a walk while both Vince Belnome and Ray Olmedo went 2 for 4, but Pawtucket did an excellent job spacing out the Bulls’ baserunners. They had 8 hits and drew 3 walks as well, but in only one inning from the first to the seventh did they have multiple baserunners in the same frame.
The Bulls fell behind 1-0 in their last series as well, and they proceeded to win their next three games to make it to the IL Championship Series. They will hope to do the same beginning tomorrow with Alex Colome lined up to start against Brian Johnson.