Durham Bulls to play for national Triple-A baseball title

csmith@newsobserver.comSeptember 16, 2013 

For the second time in the past five seasons, the Durham Bulls will try for a Triple-A National Championship when they play the Pacific Coast League champion Omaha Storm Chasers at 7:05 p.m. Tuesday in Allentown, Pa.

The Bulls won the title in 2009.

The Storm Chasers have little in common with the Bulls.

Durham has given up more than three runs just once in September during nine games, including four shutout victories.

The Storm Chasers have scored five or more runs in five games during September. The Bulls have failed to score more than two runs in seven games during the same time frame.

Durham finished with the best record in Triple-A at 87-57. Omaha finished with the worst record among playoff teams in the PCL at 70-74.

The Storm Chasers have five players hitting over .300 in the playoffs, including four hitting over .350. The Bulls don’t have a player hitting over .300 and have two batting below .200.

Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo says both teams are deserving of the opportunity for different reasons.

“Omaha comes from a hitting league and we come from a pitcher’s league, so there’s a big difference,” Montoyo said.

The Bulls’ projected starter will be Jake Odorizzi. The right-hander has bounced back and forth between the Bulls and Tampa Bay Rays all season, with four starts for the big-league club.

Montoyo drew comparisons between Odorizzi and another former Bulls starter, Jeremy Hellickson. The Rays pitcher was 9-2 with a 2.45 ERA when Durham won the first-ever Triple-A National Championship back in 2009 and was named the MVP for his five shutout innings against the Memphis Redbirds.

“They were, and in Odorizzi’s case are, really good prospects at the highest level,” Montoyo said.

The Storm Chasers are affiliated with the Kansas City Royals and the Bulls will face hot bats Tuesday when they go up against hitters like first baseman Ben Broussard and the young switch-hitting third baseman Rey Navarro.

Smith: 919-829-8941; Twitter: @RCorySmith

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