The Norfolk Tides offense has come alive in a big way since returning to the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish last Friday. In the five games since their return they have scored 37 runs on 68 hits by far their most productive performance of the season and maybe the past few years. The Tides are playing like a team with a real sense of purpose now when the team is at bat those in the dugout are up at the dugout railing and have their mind on the game and this is something that I cannot remember seeing in my time attending Tides games. The even in the games that they have lost in this home stand the offense has scored enough runs to win most any well pitched game. Unfortunately the Tides pitchers have been knocked around a bit but tonight despite falling behind 5-0 in the first inning this now potent offense went to work and produced in a big way led by plucky shortstop Robert Andino.
Tides starter Brandon Erbe got hit hard in the 1st inning giving up 5 runs to the Braves and it looked like that Brandon was not long for the game. However after a visit to the mound by Tides Interim Manager Bobby Dickerson he got himself settled down and completed 5 innings being pulled from the game in the 6th inning after facing one batter. Jim Miller shut down the Braves in the 6th but in the 7th inning gave up 4 runs on 3 hits and a walk which at that point tied the game.
The Tides as I said were hit hard in the 1st inning and the silence of the Tides fans was deafening it was as if gloom was descending on our fair stadium. The people who sat next to me in my pew in section 102 began to quietly say that the game was over and that there was no hope. Having seen the Tides come back from worse deficits this week I told them not to count the Tides out and Padre Steve got it right. There was something that I could sense in the air that told me that the Tides hitters would not meekly walk away from this scrum and I was right. Brandon Snyder as he has a number of times this week ignited the Tides offense doubling to drive in Josh Bell with two outs in the bottom of the 2nd inning. In the 3rd inning Robert Andino hit a three run homer over the left field wall to bring the Tides to within one run. In the 5th inning the Tides struck again this time with enough force to go ahead of the Braves as the Tides tied together doubles by Paco Figueroa and Robert Andino and a single by Josh Bell.
In the bottom frame of the 6th the Tides scored three more runs when they put together hits with two costly Braves errors to make the score 9-5. Of course as I mentioned earlier the Braves scored four runs in the top of the 7th however Kam Mickolio after surrendering the hits that plated the batters left aboard by Miller shut the Braves down in the 8th. In the bottom of the 8th Blake Davis pinch hitting for Paco Figueroa walked with 1 out. He went to third on a single by Matt Angle and scored on a sacrifice fly in foul territory by Robert Andino. Andino finished the game with a home run, double and 5 RBIs a stellar performance for the Tides Shortstop. Brandon Snyder, Matt Angle and Josh Bell all came up with big hits as the Tides offense continued its romp over opposing pitchers.
Denis Sarfate pitched the 9th to close the game striking out Wes Timmons, Freddie Freeman and Barbaro Canizares in order to gain his 5th save of the season. Kam Mickolio got a blown save and the win and Brandon Erbe came out with a no-decision after coming back from that disastrous 1st inning to keep the game close until the relief pitchers were ready to come out to save the game. The “unsave” was unfortunate as many of us in the stands were rooting, hoping and praying for Brandon to get his first win of the season.
The Braves had 9 runs on 12 hits and 3 errors stranding 4 while the Tides had 10 runs on 11 hits and 1 error leaving 5 men on base to grab the win. Kam Mickolio was the winning pitcher and Corey Gearrin (0-3 4.02 ERA) took the loss. The teams meet tonight at Harbor Park with Armando Gabino (2-0, 2.73 ERA) scheduled to take the mound for Norfolk against Braves right-hander Tim Gustafson (5-3 5.74 ERA ) See you there.