For just the second time since moving to a shiny new stadium across town in 1995, the Durham Bulls played at historic Durham Athletic Park on Monday night. And for the second time, the Bulls had their throwback night spoiled by the visiting team.
After suffering a 6-2 loss to the Toledo Mud Hens last May 10, the Bulls lost to the Indianapolis Indians, 7-5, on Monday.
Andrew Lambo led the Indians with a homer, a single and three RBIs, while outfielder John Bowker was 2-for-3 with a two-run shot in his second game with the Indians since being optioned to Triple-A by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
It was the first time this season the Indians have won a road game when trailing after six innings.
"We're starting to gel as a team and have fun," Lambo said of the Indians, who have won two games in a row for just the second time this year.
In the last game the two teams played on May 3, there were two beanballs and two ejections. After a Brandon Guyer homer, Indianapolis' Rudy Owens plunked the next batter, Chris Carter, and was immediately tossed. The Bulls retaliated when 6-foot-7 Dane De La Rosa drilled Lambo with his first pitch. He too was ejected.
On Monday night, Lambo got revenge by depositing De La Rosa's second pitch over the right-field fence.
"Yeah, it absolutely felt good to get him back a little bit, especially since [the beanball] was intended," Lambo said. "It's all part of the game, but it felt good [to hit the homer] and was even better for the team."
Both Indians homers were driven over the wall in right-center field, which is invitingly close after the DAP's renovation in 2008. It's 290 feet down the line in right as opposed to 327 at the Bulls' new park.
The ballpark originally opened as El Toro Park in 1926, but its wooden grandstand burned to the ground in a 1939 fire. It was rebuilt with a steel and concrete structure and renovated in the late 1970's.
After the success of the 1988 film Bull Durham vaulted the Bulls to new prominence, the team moved to the new Durham Bulls Athletic Park in 1995. Attendance was so good that the team, long a Class A stalwart, joined the Triple-A International League in 1998.
The old Durham Athletic Park was renovated again in 2008-'09 and now hosts Minor League Baseball training events as well as North Carolina Central University baseball and local American Legion games.
"It was a little different," Lambo admitted. "It was kind of a throwback to high school or college days, with the small dugout and everything. It was a fun atmosphere.
"I was a little worried about the fans down the lines, though -- the stands are really close and some hitters were ripping foul balls down there. I'm glad everybody got out alive," he laughed.
The Bulls got off to a strong start Monday, scoring runs in each of the first three frames to take a 4-2 lead. Carter smacked a bases-loaded two-run double in the first inning, Jose Lobaton led off the second with his third homer of the season and Russ Canzler doubled and scored on J.J. Furmaniak's sacrifice fly in the third.
Indianapolis rallied with three runs in the seventh -- two of them on Lambo's longball -- and tacked on two insurance runs in the eighth.
The Bulls threatened in the ninth -- their first two batters singled and Guyer scored on a wild pitch by Indians closer Tim Wood -- but were unable to get the tying run on base.
Carter doubled twice in the game and the Bulls outhit the Indians, 10-9, but were just 3-for-18 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. The loss snapped their five-game win streak.
De La Rosa (3-2) took the loss after allowing five runs on six hits over two innings. He walked one and struck out one.
Indians southpaw Garrett Olson (1-0) only gave up one hit over three scoreless frames. Wood notched his fifth save despite allowing a run on two hits in the ninth.
The two teams have three games left in the four-game set, but those contests will be played at the Bulls' regular park.
After returning to the DAP on the second Monday of May the past two years, the Bulls seem to be turning the visit into an annual event.