Durham Notebook: Second-half Stampede

Ben Christoph checks in with latest news on the Durham Bulls. This week: Brandon Allen has helped ignite Durham's offense and the team is playing winning baseball again, recently-named International League all-star Dane De La Rosa has helped anchor a very productive bullpen, plus the latest transaction news from the Triangle.

Second-half stampede

The team has won eight of their last 10 games, five of which were in a row and totaled up to the best streak so far this season. Durham's team batting average of .259 is good enough to be tied for 3rd-best in the International League and is an improvement on the months of April and May in which they hit .240 as a team.

Much of this momentum gain has come on the back of outfielder Brandon Allen, who rides a 12- game hitting streak and owns the best slash-stats on the team (besides the rehabbing Luke Scott) at .392/.429/.608.

"He is the one who's gotten us hot, as a team," said skipper Charlie Montoyo. "He carried us there for a while and then Vogt got hot behind him. Brandon is a true professional and a good hitter. Consistency might be the only thing holding him back from the big leagues, but from what I've seen here he's having good at-bats and playing the game the right way."

Steady Bulls' pen

The Bulls' relief pitchers have been a reliable facet through the ups and downs of the team's journey to this point. Led by righties Bryan Augenstein (1-0, 1.38 ERA, 2 SV), Ryan Reid (4-1, 3.23 ERA, 1 SV), and recently-named IL All-Star Dane De La Rosa (0-2, 3.40 ERA, 8 SV), the group has consistently put a tourniquet on the base paths, allowing only 28 of 94 inherited base runners to score.

"Those three guys in our bullpen have been outstanding," said Montoyo. "Some of the guys have been up and down, but for the most part I really like the way our relievers are playing."

The play of recently-promoted southpaw Frank De Los Santos (1-0, 0.00 ERA, 0 SV) also garnered praise from Montoyo, as he has struck out four batters while only allowing three hits in 3.1 innings of action so far. The 24-year old maintained a 4-1 record with the AA Montgomery Biscuits in 24 appearances earlier this season, featuring a 2.06 ERA and earning four saves.

Transactions in the Triangle

Shortstop Tim Beckham was reinstated on June 23rd after serving a 50-game suspension for a drug of abuse. Beckham has gone 5-for-21 with an RBI since his return.

Two big-name Rays made rehab appearances over the past week, with DH Luke Scott going 3- for-8 with 2 homers and 4 RBI in his stint and reliever Kyle Farnsworth giving up two hits with no earned runs and 4 K's over two innings.

Right-handed pitcher Matt Buschmann was promoted to Durham on June 24th, and went 5.1 IP with 5 hits and 2 earned runs (both of which were HR) with 3 walks and 5 K's. The former Vanderbilt Commodore owned a 2-3 record with AA Montgomery and maintained a 3.77 ERA.

Battle of the bovines

The Bulls (38-43) will look to complete their third-straight series win as they finish off the Syracuse Chiefs (41-38) before the weekend. The club will then head north to take on the Buffalo Bisons (39-41) in a four-game series.

With Durham's recent momentum swing, the team has moved out of last place in the division and made up three games over the last week, now trailing the division leading Charlotte Knights (45-36) by seven games.

Ben Christoph is the Durham beat writer for Rays Digest. You can follow him on Twitter at @btchristoph


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