DURHAM — If fans came to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park on Wednesday night looking for offense, they were sorely disappointed. What they got was a pitchers duel between two major league prospects that resulted in a combined four hits through the first seven innings.
But in the eighth inning, Kevin Kiermaier hustled out a double that fell in shallow and later scored on a Tim Beckham one-out single that found its way through the right side of the infield. That would ultimately be the winning run in a 2-0 win against the Indianapolis Indians.
Whatever weve got to do to get that W, were going to do it, Beckham said. We won a lot of games in the regular season, but that was the regular season. Were going to build off of this win and have momentum going into every game.
The first RBI of the night came on Beckhams third hit of the game. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 MLB Draft led off the game with a single and had a double in the sixth to finish 3 for 4.
Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo described the game as a nail-biter and said it was the most exciting of the year.
Hes having a good year, Montoyo said of Beckham. Somebodys got to step up and he did that today offensively. Hopefully tomorrow somebody else will as well as him.
It was Jake Odorizzis fourth career postseason start and his third in Game 1 of a series. His nine strikeouts were the most hes thrown in a postseason game and matched his second-highest total of the year behind his 11 strikeouts against Norfolk in his final outing of the regular season.
Outside of a shaky final frame in which he surrendered two consecutive walks to load the bases following an error, Odorizzi had an outstanding night, pitching seven innings of one-hit, shutout baseball.
Odorizzi was able to escape the seventh after two errors and two walks on what he believed were questionable calls behind the plate. Odorizzi appeared frustrated, shaking his head as a chorus of boos came from the stands.
I thought a few balls were close but Im not the umpire so I cant do anything about it, he said. I thought some could have gone either way. We scored the two runs that next inning, so I thought that was a momentum shifter.
Closer Kirby Yates came in for the ninth inning, shut the door on the Indians and gave the Bulls a 1-0 lead in the series.
The Bulls and Indians will play again on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. in Durham as the Bulls Co-Pitcher of the Year J.D. Martin (16-4, 2.75 ERA) toes the rubber against the Indians Graham Godfrey (7-5, 3.99).
Smith: 919-829-4841; @RCorySmith