DURHAM, N.C.–After rain washed out yesterday’s matchup between the game’s two best prospects, we’re back on for live blogging the game tonight from behind the plate.
Rays lefthander David Price gets the start for Durham tonight at 5:05 p.m., facing a Norfolk lineup that should include Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, the No. 1 prospect in baseball. So dust off your F5 keys and we’ll see you here at five. Send in any questions or comments in the comments section below.
You can also follow along with the box score and play-by-play on MiLB.com.
3:52 pm: Been here at the ballpark for an hour, and the weather forecast looks promising with a five percent chance of rain. Norfolk’s just getting off the field after taking BP, so we’ll be back in an hour when the game starts.
5:00 pm: The game’s about to start. Price is warming up in the bullpen, so we should get going in here in about five minutes.
5:05 pm: We’re about to get going. Price is on the mound, Wieters is up third this inning.
5:10 pm: Justin Christian leads off for Norfolk and grounds out to third base. Price starts the game with a 92 mph fastball (strike, looking), a 91 mph fastball (fouled off), a 92 mph fastball away to get to 1-2, then threw Christian the slider for the groundout.
5:12 pm: Right fielder Lou Montanez grounds out to third base, two outs. Price gets ahead 0-1 with Montanez looking at a 93 mph fastball. Montanez evens the count when Price throws an 84 mph changeup away for a ball, then falls behind 1-2 fouling off another changeup. Price went again to the slider to the righty-hitting Montanez for the groundout.
5:13 PM: And confrontation number one of the evening goes to Price, who strikes out Wieters on three straight fastballs. Wieters took a 92 mph fastball on the outer half for strike one, then swung and missed at a 93 mph fastball for strike two. The pitch was on the outside corner, maybe even out of the strike zone. Price finishes him off with a 93 mph fastball that Wieters took for strike three. Price was mixing in his changeup against the righty-hitting Montanez, but he went right after Wieters with his best pitch.
5:16 pm: We’re in the bottom of the first now, and Reid Brignac just grounded out to shortstop. We have just about the whole staff here tonight for this prospect showdown, so Nathan Rode just relayed to me that Brignac was down the line in 4.27 seconds.
5:19 pm: Orioles lefty Chris Waters, 27, is in a bit of a jam here with runners on first and second and two outs, but gets Adam Kennedy to ground out to end the inning. Still 0-0 after one inning.
5:29 pm: Lots of action going on here, Price is getting into some trouble. Updates in a second.
5:33 pm: OK, big updates here, but the top of the second inning is done and Norfolk is ahead 2-0.
Oscar Salazar leads off the inning by lacing a fastball off of Price up the middle for a single. Nolan Reimold follows for Norfolk, getting behind by looking at a 91 mph fastball for strike one, but he took a pair of changeups–one low, one high–to get ahead 2-1. On the next pitch, Reimold demolished a fastball that left the park in a hurry, clearing the big wall in left field to give Norfolk a 2-0 lead.
With the righty-hitting Jolbert Cabrera at the plate, Price went back to his slider, which made Cabrera look silly. Cabrera whiffed a slider for strike one, then swung and missed at an 84 mph slider for strike two. After taking a 94 mph fastball to get to 1-2, Cabrera swung and missed at an 85 mph slider for strike three, a pitch that broke down and into his ankles.
Third baseman Scott Moore followed Cabrera, taking a 92 mph fastball for ball one and an 84 mph slider to even the count 1-1 before lining a slider to left field for a single.
Price’s control eluded him in the next at-bat against second baseman Donnie Murphy, who took four straight pitches–an 85 mph changeup in the dirt, a 91 mph fastball, a 92 mph fastball high and a 92 mph fastball low–for the walk to put runners in first and second.
Shortstop Justin Turner took the first pitch for strike one, looked at an 84 mph changeup for ball one and an 84 mph fastball to get ahead 2-1 before hitting a grounder to first base. They get the runner at second and Price shows athleticism covering the bag at first base, but he can’t squeeze the ball into his glove for the double play.
With runners on first and third and two outs, Christian took a 90 mph fastball for a ball inside, then Price evened the count 1-1 with an 85 mph for a strike. Christian looked at a nice slider with late bight before grounding out on a fastball to end the inning.
5:47 pm: A lot going on right now here in the top of the third inning. Recap coming up in one minute.
5:50 pm: Montanez leads off the top of the third inning getting behind 0-1, then 0-2 as he was unable to hold up on an 83 mph changeup from Price. After taking an 84 mph slider for a ball inside, Montanez grounds out to third base on a fastball.
5:53 pm: The second confrontation of the night goes to Wieters, who just drew an incredible 12-pitch walk against Price. Wieters got behind 0-1 by fouling off a changeup, then took an 83 mph slider high and a 92 mph fastball away to get to 2-1. Wieters fouled off the next three pitches–slider, fastball, then changeup–before taking a 93 mph fastball high and away to get to a 3-2 count. After fouling off a pair of sliders, Wieters fouled off two fastballs, then took an 87 mph slider inside for ball four. Price is throwing a ton of pitches so far, but you can tell he’s here to try to improve his changeup by throwing it liberally.
5:55 pm: Oscar Salazar reaches base on a hard hit, line-drive single to left field, putting runners on first and second with one out. Salazar took an 84 mph slider for strike one, then got ahead 2-1 by taking an 84 mph changeup and a 94 mph fastball way outside. Price got to 2-2 by getting Salazar to look at an 86 mph slider, but Salazar fouled off two more sliders before lacing the single to left.
5:57 pm: Price manages to get out of the jam unscathed. After homering in his last at-bat, Reimold comes out swinging on the first pitch, flying out harmlessly to center field with the runners holding at first and second. With two outs, Price again was able to get Cabrera with his slider. Cabrera watched an 83 mph slider go by for strike one, then swung and missed at a 95 mph fastball–that’s the highest we’ve had Price clocked at tonight–to get to 0-2. After fouling off another slider, Cabrera swung and missed at an 85 mph for a strikeout to end the inning.
6:00 pm: By my unofficial count, Price threw 28 pitches in that inning and 27 pitches the inning before (the second inning). So after three innings, Price is unofficially at 65 pitches.
6:02 pm: OK, picking up action back here in the bottom of the third inning, Durham has scored three runs to take a 3-2 lead. After hitting a one-out single, Durham shortstop Reid Brignac scored when Justin Ruggiano followed him with a home run. Ray Sadler struck out swining, followed by Adam Kennedy getting plunked. Kennedy stole second base with no throw, then scored on a double by Chris Nowak to give the Bulls a 3-2 lead.
6:08 pm: And the Bulls leave the bases loaded. We’re in the top of the fourth inning, Durham leads 3-2. Price is back out, though I’m not sure he’ll last through the entire inning given his pitch count.
6:12 pm: Moore leads off the inning getting behind 0-1 on an 81 mph slider, then flying out to shallow left field on a fastball.
6:14 pm: Murphy is up next and gets behind 0-1 on an 83 mph changeup, then whiffs at an 81 mph slider to get to 0-2. Murphy takes the next three pitches–a 91 mph fastball, 83 mph pitch that was either a changeup or a slider, and an 80 mph slider–to get to a full count. Price finished him off on the next pitch by getting him to look at a 92 mph fastball for strike three on the inside corner.
6:16 pm: That’s it for Price, he’s coming out after 3 2/3 innings after throwing 73 pitches. From what I understand, Price was on a 75-pitch limit, though Kary Booher will have more after the game.
6:20 pm: All in all, probably not the way Price had hoped tonight would go, with the obvious caveats that a.) it’s his first start of the season and b.) he wasn’t solely focused on getting outs with his best stuff; he was probably here to work on his changeup. His fastball sat in the low-90s tonight, topping out at 95 mph, which is pretty much what he pitched at last year as a starter when he was rising through the minor leagues.
The high pitch counts he racked up in the second and third innings really hurt Price, especially the marathon plate appearance to Wieters that ended in a walk. By the end of his outing in the fourth, it was apparent that his slider was losing some of its power and shape, but given that it’s his first start of the season and the number of pitches he had to labor through in the second and third innings, I don’t think we can conclude much. Price should make a few more starts for Durham, so we’ll continue to monitor his progress while he’s here in Triple-A.
6:27 pm: Now for an update on the game, for those of you following along. Durham pushed across another run in the bottom of the fourth inning, giving the Bulls a 4-2 lead here in the top of the fifth inning. Christian leads off for Norfolk, followed by Montanez and Wieters.
6:29 pm: Christian lines out to center field, one out. Righthander Dewon Day is now on the mound for Durham, by the way, which means Wieters will turn around and hit from the left side for the first time today.
7:21 pm: Apologies for the break in the action here. The battery on laptop number one went out, and the wireless access on the second machine wasn’t working. At this point, Price is out and the Bulls lead 4-3 after seven innings. A runner stole second base against Wieters because, even though Wieters’ throw was accurate and beat the runner to the bag, he got rid of the ball so quickly that his throw even beat the shortstop trying to cover second base to the bag. I know that sounds like a "Matt Wieters Fact," but that’s really what happened.
That’s all for the live blogging action this evening. We’ll have a recap of the game later on with reaction from the clubhouses. Thanks for following along with us today.
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