It was a hot night at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish as the temperature was high and bats were on fire. If you were looking for a pitcher’s duel this was not the place to see one. In part this was due to Norfolk Tides ace Jake Arietta being pulled from the start the day of the game in what is believed to be a move by the Orioles to have him ready to come to Baltimore in a middle relief role at short notice. In his place veteran submariner Andy Mitchell got the start, his first start since April. Unfortunately for Andy it was his worst outing of the year as the veteran Bisons’ line up which has the highest batting average in the league and is loaded with players who have played against him for years had his number. After giving up 6 runs in the 1st inning he lasted 2 and 2/3rds innings giving up a total of 7 runs on 13 hits. Andy has been at his best this year in middle relief following hard throwing pitchers where his submarine style keeps batters who are locked in on the hard throwing pitchers off balance.
Tonight the Bisons had Andy’s number and with 2 outs in the top of the 3rd inning he was pulled for Mike Hinckley who after an inauspicious debut in the 9th inning Friday night pitched 1 and 1/3 innings allowing no runs on hits. Jake Arrieta came into the game in the 5th to throw two innings gave up another run on 3 hits before handing the ball over to Kam Mickolio in the 7th. Kam who has struggled gave no hint of that on Saturday pitching very well in 1 and 2/3rds innings giving up no runs on 3 hits before being pulled with a 2-0 count against Mike Cervenak appearing to be injured and closer Denis Sarfate came in and struck out Cervenak to end the inning.
The Tides hitters were not silent and as on Friday night chipped away at the Buffalo lead in a convincing manner in a performance on any normal night would have been a game winning performance.
The comeback started in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Blake Davis and Paco Figueroa both singled and Figueroa stole 2nd setting up Matt Angle who singled to drive in both runners. In the 5th inning with a runner on and 1 out the improving Nolan Reimold homered to left to make the score 7-4. The Tides scored 2 more runs in the bottom of the 6th. Adam Donachie singled and reached third on a double by Paco Figueroa. The Bisons then sent in Michael O’Connor to relieve starter Dylan Owen. O’Connor promptly threw a wild pitch in the dirt that bounce over the home plate netting into the seats to score Donachie. He the got Matt Angle to ground out to first before Robert Andino singled to score Figueroa. Jeff Salazar struck out and then Rhyne Hughes singled Andino to 3rd base. Jose Della Torre came into the game for O’Connor and hit Nolan Reimold with a pitch to load the bases. He then walked Brandon Snyder to score Andino before getting Blake Davis to ground out to first to end the inning.
Once again the Tides seemed to have momentum on their side but fortune turned against them as Denis Sarfate who has been lights out in the 9th inning gave up 4 runs the big damage coming on a Mike Jacobs bases clearing triple with the bases loaded. This gave the Bisons a 12-7 lead going into the bottom of the 9th. The Tides did not go quietly into the night however as Brandon Snyder hit a leadoff home run and Blake Davis doubled. Adam Donachie struck out swinging and Paco Figueroa grounded out to move Davis to 3rd base. Davis scored on a wild pitch by Manny Acosta to narrow the lead to 12-9. Matt Angle then singled and it looked like the Tides might be about to pull this one out of the fire, instead Robert Andino flied out to center on a 2-0 pitch to end the game.
Once again the Tides put enough runs on the board to win a game and didn’t. Tonight as Earl Weaver said “The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field” and that was in evidence Saturday as Tides pitchers gave up 10 runs in just two innings. Had the pitching been there the Tides would have walked away with the win but instead dropped their 4th straight. On the positive side for the second night in a row the Tides hitters produced hits and runs.
As I said at the beginning of this article this was not a night to see pitching. The Bisons had 12 runs on 22 hits and no errors and left 11 men on base. The Tides with production that should get a win on any night had 9 runs on 15 hits and 1 error leaving 11 on base. Andy Mitchell (0-1 9.86 ERA) got the loss and Dylan Owen (2-1 6.14 ERA) got the win with Manny Acosta getting the save. The teams play Sunday afternoon at Harbor Park. See you there.