Bulls

Durham, Omaha square off in Triple-A national championship

Posted September 17, 2013

— The Omaha Storm Chasers, Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, entered this year’s postseason with a losing record, 70-74. The Durham Bulls entered this year’s playoffs 30 games over .500 and boasted the best record in Triple-A. Despite two very different paths to this point, Omaha and Durham will take to the diamond in Allentown, Pa., Tuesday night in a winner-take-all national championship game.

“Everybody knows that if you peak at the right moment, that’s what it’s all about - and they are definitely peaking,” said Bulls General Manager Mike Birling Tuesday while joining Mark and Mike, The Insiders, on 620 AM The Buzz. “The records are thrown out the window now. It’s funny we had the best record in all of baseball and they had one of the worst coming into the playoffs, but they are making the most of it and it’s up to us to jump on them early and shut them down with our pitching.”

Montoyo: I know how much it means to win it Montoyo: I know how much it means to win it

Pitching has been what has helped the Bulls get to this point and it is in large part thanks to Omaha themselves. Winners of 87 games in the regular season and champions of the International League, Durham led the IL in ERA (3.33). The Bulls pitching staff has not allowed a run in 29 consecutive innings and are coming off back-to-back shutouts. The team leader on the year in strikeouts and Game 1 winner of each of the teams’ two playoff series wins is Jake Odorizzi, a former No. 2 prospect in the Royals system.

On Dec. 9, the Royals traded three players that were at one time designed to shape the future of the organization. Potentially sacrificing their future to “win now”, they sent their top two prospects, Odorizzi and Wil Myers along with Mike Montgomery (all playing in Omaha at the time) to Tampa Bay for pitcher James Shields. Nine months later, Odorizzi will get the ball to try and beat the Storm Chasers.

“Just because of the trade with them, with Shields and Wil Myers and now you have Jake Odorizzi going up against his teammates from last year, you have that interest,” Birling said.

Odorizzi has been nothing short of dominant this postseason having thrown 14 scoreless innings while striking out 16 and giving up just five hits. He is going up against a Storm Chasers lineup that scored 10 runs on 19 hits in their PCL clincher to get to this game.

“It’s a one-game playoff. We have lived and died with pitching the last few weeks and that’s what it will come down to,” Birling said. “We are hoping to get what Jake has done in the first game of every series and shut them down.”

With each team’s Big League organization in playoff contention, keeping rosters together for a playoff push has been a task.

“I don’t take this year for granted. The playoffs are all about luck,” Bulls manager Charlie Montoyo said. “We finished in first place in 144 games, but anything can happen in the playoffs and especially when your team is in contention in the Big Leagues.”

Currently, Tampa Bay is holding a Wild Card spot while the Royals are just 2.5 games back. Since Triple-A went to its current National Championship formant in 2006, no affiliate has won it all while their professional team has reached the postseason.

The Bulls, who have won four Governors’ Cups since 2002, seek to become the second team to win two Triple-A National Championships and are trying to be the first IL team to win the national championship in an IL park.

The game is scheduled for a 7:05 first pitch and can be heard live on 99.9 The Fan. It will also be televised on NBC Sports Network.

“It’s such a long season, and to come out on top, it’s really something that you can’t explain,” Birling said. “It reminds you why you are in the game.”

5 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Toddler10-21 Sep 17, 5:24 p.m.

    Go Bulls. The Rays have a heck of a farm system.

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT Sep 17, 4:45 p.m.

    Go Bulls! I'll be watching.

  • JEIAKC Sep 17, 2:56 p.m.

    I LOVE the one game format! Bring what ya got and leave it all on the field!!!

    GO BULLS!!!!

  • DurhamDevil Sep 17, 2:55 p.m.

    Do it one more time...

    GO BULLS!!!

  • 75Tarheel Sep 17, 2:26 p.m.

    A one game winner take all format. It's ridiculous. I suppose the IL needs to get this over so the players can be distributed as needed to the Big League teams.

    GO BULLS!!

  • NASL: RailHawks vs. Ft. Lauderdale

    Today at 7:30 am on WRAL-2

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: RBC Heritage

    Tomorrow at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Zurich Classic of New Orleans

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • MLB: Atlanta Braves at NY Mets

    Tonight at 7:05 on 99.9 The Fan

  • MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Boston Red Sox

    Tomorrow at 7:05 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR
 
Final
CHC 1
CIN 4
Final
PIT 3
MIL 5
Final
WAS 3
STL 1
Final
CLE 2
TOR 3
Final
DET 6
ANA 11
Final
NYM 0
ATL 6
Final
BOS 4
BAL 8
Final
TAM 11
NYY 5
Final
MIA 8
SEA 4
Final
TEX 12
CWS 0
Final
KAN 5
MIN 0
Final
COL 12
PHI 1
Final
OAK 11
HOU 3
Final
LOS 2
ARI 4
Final
SDP 2
SFG 1
1:05pm Today
WAS
STL
 
1:05pm Today
CLE
TOR
 
1:08pm Today
DET
ANA
 
1:35pm Today
BOS
BAL
 
2:10pm Today
KAN
MIN
 
2:20pm Today
CHC
CIN
 
4:05pm Today
OAK
HOU
 
7:05pm Tonight
PIT
MIL
 
7:10pm Tonight
NYM
ATL
 
7:10pm Tonight
TAM
NYY
 
7:10pm Tonight
MIA
SEA
 
8:05pm Tonight
TEX
CWS
 
8:10pm Tonight
LOS
ARI
 
8:10pm Tonight
COL
PHI
 
8:40pm Tonight
SDP
SFG
 
12:30pm Today
TOR
BRK
3:30pm Today
LAC
GSW
7:00pm Tonight
IND
ATL
9:30pm Tonight
OKC
MEM
Final
TAM 1
MON 4
Final
BOS 0
DET 1
Final
ANA 3
DAL 2
3:00pm Today
STL
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
CLB
9:30pm Tonight
COL
MIN
Final
NOR 0
DUR 3
 
7:05pm Tonight
NOR
DUR