Durham Bulls Notebook: April 5 -7

Durham Bulls beat writer Derek Levandowski checks in with his weekly notebook.

If there is one thing that the Durham Bulls provided their fans during their opening series of 2012, it was plenty of free baseball and exciting moments. The Bulls took two of the first three vs. the Gwinnett Braves to open the season, twice walking off, and twice needing extra innings to settle the score.

On Thursday evening, a packed house at the Durham Athletic Park saw top prospect Alex Cobb fire five strong innings of one-run ball, en route to a no-decision. The impressive righty scattered six hits, while walking none and striking out eight. Cobb was 5-1 with the Bulls last season, with a sub 2.00 ERA, and seems to have picked up right where he left off.

The Bulls jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, but the bullpen faltered late. The Braves took a 3-2 lead in 12th inning before Durham answered back with two of their own in the bottom half. The winning run scored when shortstop Greg Paiml committed his second error of the game, allowing the Bulls to celebrate on the field on opening night.

Durham and Gwinnett needed extra frames on Friday night, as a tight pitchers duel led to a 0-0 score through 10 innings. The Braves broke through, however, in the top of the 11th when Joey Terdoslavich doubled in two runs off of Dane De la Rosa to give Gwinnett a lead they would not relinquish.

These two evenly matched teams played to another nail-biter on Friday night. Blue chip Braves Prospect Julio Teheran served up a home run to Jeff Salazar and lasted just 1 2/3 innings. Teheran struggled with his command, throwing 58 pitches in what proved to be the second shortest outing of his young minor league career. Ben Swaggarty, however, came in and held the Bulls at bay, allowing the Braves to climb back in the game. After a home run from Brandon Guyer, the Bulls appeared to be cruising to victory, but the Braves would rally and take the lead in the top of the 9th.

Tim Beckham, the number-one-overall pick in 2008 who has struggled early this season, led off the bottom half of the 9th with a walk and scored the tying run on a Matt Mangini single. The next hitter was Leslie Anderson, who played hero for the night when he ripped a game winning double to center field.

The Bulls will try and take the series today when they send local product Chris Archer to the mound on Easter Sunday. Archer allowed just one run in 13 innings with Durham in 2011.

Other notes:

* Jeff Salazar's solo home run in Friday night's game was his 500th RBI in the minors.
* Kyle Hudson is off to a hot start, going 6 for 11 to open the campaign (.545)
* After going homerless in their first two games, the Bulls slugged two home runs in Saturday night's game.
* The team placed catcher Chris Gimenez on the 7 Day Disabled List and catcher Craig Albernaz was promoted from Double-A Montomery.

Derek Levandowski is the Durham Bulls beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow Derek on Twitter at @DereksCurveball.

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