Jeff Fiorentino, seen here Hitting a Home Run off Bartolo Colon has Come up Big for the Norfolk Tides in 2009
The Norfolk Tides came home Tuesday after their worst road trip of the season in which they fell behind both the Durham Bulls and Gwinett Braves. When things are not going well for a team, organization or individual it seems that events almost conspire against them. It was that way for the Tides, errors and bad decisions at the plate, on the base paths and the field plagued them over the road trip. The problems continued on Tuesday where the Tides lost their 9th of the last 10 games. Now it was not that the team was bad, they made some great comebacks but fell short each time sometimes in heartbreaking ways.
Tonight after getting out to an early lead the Tides were behind 5-2 in the bottom of the 7th. Elliott the Usher and I as well as Barry the Scorekeeper wondered what was happening. It seemed that there was no energy on the team. Unfortunately when a team, organization, military unit or individual gets on a losing streak it is hard to get motivated, especially when you come close but come up short. I remember being told in my Pastoral Care Residency that I had to stop believing that things were going to be difficult or that I would always come up short. My supervisor told me that I had the power to actually envision a positive future and make things happen to see it come into being. Now I have always been a fighter and even a survivor, but being a survivor doesn’t necessarily make you a winner.
The Tides picked up 2 in the 7th as Robby Hammock led off with a hit and Tides hitters Blake Davis, Joey Gathright and Jeff Fiorentino brought the runs across with key hits. Brandon Snyder singled to drive in Victor Diaz and tie the game the game in the 8th. Tides reliever Alberto Castillo came in at the top of the 9th and shut down the Indians after getting into a jam after giving up a hit and an error by 3rd Baseman Brandon Snyder.
Sometimes the key to breaking a losing streak is in how one player can raise help lift the team. Following the promotion of Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold and Oscar Salazar to the Orioles and the loss of Scott Moore, Jolbert Cabrerra to season ending injuries and temporary absences to injury of Justin Turner and Joey Gathright, it was Jeff Fiorentino that stepped up. He now stands near the top of the International League in hitting with a .315 batting average and has been a clutch player offensively and defensively. Tonight Jeff went four for four with a walk, drove in a run in the 7th. Hecame to bat with one out in the 9th to single to drive Justin Turner in for the winning run. It broke the losing streak and hopefully will begin a rebound for the Tides. Since the Tides have played well the bulk of the season even allowing for significant numbers of call ups and injuries it is well possible that they will turn things around. It was significant that other Tides were involved in the comeback and that instead of giving in to going through the motions they came together to win. The team still has a lot of heart and character and still can only continue to get better.
May we all do the same, with a little help from the Deity Herself.
On a side note, Tides pitcher Chris Tillman had his first Major League start in Baltimore against Kansas City. He had a no decision but the Orioles won the game 7-3. Former Tides relievers Matt Albers came in in the 5th to hold the Royals and Jim Johnson got the save. Baltimore continues to get great performance out of the pitchers called up from Norfolk this year.