The Norfolk Tides travelled north to Syracuse on faced the Chiefs in the opening game of a four game series at Alliance Bank Field. The Chiefs who are the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals lead the North Division of the International League with a record of 18-11 and are playing very good ball. Even more surprising for the Nationals organization is that the Nationals have an 18-14 record and sit in second place in the NL East trailing the division leading Philadelphia Phillies by two games.
In front of a crowd of 3612 fans who braved temperatures that fell into the 40s as the night wore on and variable winds of 11 miles an hour the teams took the field. Although it was cold the weather was nowhere near as bad as the weekend where two games between the Chiefs and the Gwinnett Braves were postponed due to winter weather including snow on Sunday. The Tides started Jake Arietta who faced Sharion Martis of the Chiefs. Arietta (3-1 1.67) pitched seven innings allowing 2 earned ruins on 4 hits. He gave up an unearned run in the bottom of the 4th inning when after walking Josh Whitesell and then on a 1-1 count hit Mike Morris. This brought up Pete Orr who bunted to Arietta who fielded the ball the throw was late to First Baseman Brandon Snyder but also wild which allowed Whitesell to score on the play. Orr was given a hit on the play but Arietta the error as the throw enabled Whitesell to score and Orr to advance to second.
The Tides scored one run in the top of the 4th inning when Corey Patterson continued his ferocious hitting by launching a triple to right field and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Josh Bell his 20th RBI of the season. The Tides would score again and tie the game in the 6th inning. Corey Patterson walked to lead off the inning and was followed by Josh Bell who popped up to third baseman Pete Orr in foul territory. Scott Moore then singled and Patterson was held at second base. To the plate came Brandon Snyder who had a key role in the Tides win against the Mud Hens on Sunday. Brandon took a called strike from Martis and then fouled tow pitches off before taking ball one. With a 2-1 count Snyder tripled to right to bring both Patterson and Moore home to tie the score. Justin Turner struck out swinging and when the ball got away from catcher Carlos Maldonado Snyder attempted top come home. Maldonado threw to relief pitcher Drew Storen who tagged Snyder out at the plate to end the inning.
The game remained knotted at 3 until the bottom of the 8th inning. Arietta left at the end of the 7th and was relieved by Ross Wolf who has been very effective in relief this year. Wolf faced Kevin Mensch who after working the count to 2-2 by fouling off four pitches took the seventh pitch and doubled to center. Josh Whitesell singled to right fielder Michael Aubrey scoring Mensch. Wolf would work his way out of the inning but the damage was done and the Tides were unable to score in the 9th inning despite a single by Corey Patterson and the Chiefs took game one by a score of 4-2.
Arietta went seven innings and got a no decision giving up 2 earned runs on 4 hits. His problem came due to control; he gave up five walks and hit one batter as well as the throwing error that cost the run in the 4th inning. Ross Wolf (0-2 2.89) got the loss in relief giving up one run on two hits. Chiefs reliever Ron Villone (1-1 9.53) got the win and Joel Peralta (0-0 S8) got his eighth save of the season. The teams meet again on Tuesday with Chris George (1-1 4.50) getting the start for the Tides and Chuck James (2-0 4.85) taking the hill at home for the Chiefs.
The Tides made a number of personnel moves over the weekend sending pitcher Jim Miller and catcher Steve Lerud to Baltimore’s short season “A” team the Aberdeen Ironbirds, and activating pitcher Denis Sarfate and catcher Michel Hernandez from the disabled list. Pitcher Jim Johnson who had been sent down from the Orioles last week was placed on the 7 day disabled list for elbow pain.