Hu puts Bulls on brink of Governors' Cup

After righty's gem, Durham stands win from second straight title

Chih-Wei Hu has compiled a 32-25 record with a 3.15 ERA over 126 Minor League games -- 85 starts -- since 2013. (Joe Dwyer/

By Bob Sutton / Special to | September 13, 2018 10:46 PM

MOOSIC, Pennsylvania -- It hasn't always gone as planned for Chih-Wei Hu this season, but when he remained on the Triple-A Durham roster for September, he was intent on making something good of it.

The right-hander certainly did that with Thursday night's stellar start as the Bulls blanked the RailRiders, 3-0, in Game 3 of the Governors' Cup Finals at PNC Field. Hu scattered six hits and struck out six without issuing any walks over seven innings to earn the win.

"They put me in Triple-A, and I'll help the team because the playoffs are important to us," Hu said. "We have a chance of [capturing] another [title]."

Gameday box score

Durham holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-5 series. A victory in Game 4 on Friday night would give the Bulls their sixth Governors' Cup overall and second straight.

Hu is one of the holdovers from Durham's team from a year ago. But his role has changed since 2017, when he transitioned to the bullpen. Back in the rotation for the bulk of this season, he struggled to gain traction. He went 5-7 with a 4.66 ERA over 24 games -- 19 starts -- for the Bulls, and he worked out of the Tampa Bay bullpen in the Majors three times -- twice in July.

Video: Durham's Hu records his sixth punchout

"Maybe coming back to a starter again, I [found] my routine," Hu said. "I feel [that] after July, I found something to keep me comfortable."

Bulls manager Jared Sandberg saw the outing as another example of what Hu can do when his delivery is under control and everything else falls into place.

"You talk about trying to finish the season strong," the skipper said. "It doesn't matter how you start. It's how you finish. … That's two great starts from him in the playoffs. He had everything working."

Hu has allowed two runs over 12 International League postseason innings, earning the win in each of his starts. Catcher Mac James was also behind the plate last week when Hu beat Toledo in the semifinals.

• Complete postseason coverage »

"They were both really good," James said. "He was right on. He had his fastball going and when he's ahead, he's pretty good. … I think he was just aggressive. He started going after hitters."

In keeping Scranton/Wilkes-Barre off the board, he threw 53 of 77 pitches for strikes.

"I felt ... a little nervous," Hu said. "Then it was 3-0, and I [felt] a lot of energy."

In the sixth inning, the RailRiders put runners on the corners after one-out singles by Mark Payton and Bruce Caldwell. Hu escaped the jam by getting Gio Urshela to bounce into a double play. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre threatened again the next inning, but Mike Ford was cut down at the plate trying to score from first base on Shane Robinson's two-out double into the left-field corner. Shortstop Jake Cronenworth made a strong relay throw to James to end the inning.

"I needed to get it there, and I got a good feed from [left fielder Joe McCarthy] on that play," Cronenworth said.MiLB include

The key moment didn't go unnoticed by Hu.

"I had an unbelievable defense behind me," the 24-year-old native of Taiwan said. "When he hit it, I thought there was a run. And then there was [an] out at home. It was unbelievable."

Kyle Bird permitted a hit while striking out a pair over two innings of relief.

The Bulls did their scoring in the early innings, putting up two runs in the second on Brandon Snyder's solo homer and Cronenworth's two-out double.

Concerns related to Hurricane Florence in North Carolina kept the series in Pennsylvania after Scranton/Wilkes-Barre hosted the first two games, with Durham playing as the home team through the rest of the series. Friday's Game 4 is set for 6:35 p.m. ET

Bob Sutton is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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