After beating the daylights out of the Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday the Norfolk Tides had the favor repaid by the International League Southern Division leading Durham Bulls who seem to have a penchant for stomping the stuffings out of most of the teams that they play. Thursday night was a brutal reminder of how deep the Tampa Bay farm system is and what they have in reserve down in Durham.
The Bulls manhandled Tides pitching. Starter Zack Clark (0-4 5.06 ERA) lasted but 3.2 innings giving up 6 runs on 10 hits including a two run home run to Elliott Johnson, 2 doubles to Justin Ruggiano and a double to Chris Richard. Mike Hinckley came in and pitched 2.1 innings momentarily halting the massacre only giving up 1 run on 3 hits. The slaughter continued as Cla Meredith who has performed miserably since his demotion from Baltimore gave up 3 runs on 3 hits along with 2 walks in an innings work and saw his Earned Run Average creep back up to 12.91. Closer Alberto Castillo was tagged for an 8th inning home run by Justin Ruggiano. Meredith was dropped from the 40 man roster when he was designated for assignment in May by the Orioles and we all hoped that he would recover and do good things and work his way back to the majors. This has not happened and it is time that the Orioles give him his outright release and bring Chris George or Andy Mitchell back to the Tides lineup. As for Clark he is still learning at the AAA level, one hopes that he will learn what he needs to from this thumping and not let it affect his next start. However Clark has been up and down the Orioles minor league system a number of times since being signed in 2006 including 2 prior trips to Norfolk so one has to wonder if Clark has reached his limit. I do not know if he has but it certainly is a valid question to ask as Clark had played in College before coming into the Baltimore system and while he has a passable career ERA he does not have a history of being a consistent winner. Castillo only gave up one run but it was a long ball and though only having two really bad outings has not been the same as he was last year. He is now 35 years old, has been in professional ball 16 years, it is possible that he is running out of gas and no amount of heart and determination will keep you in the game when nothing is left in the tank. Being an old guy in a young person’s organization I have a soft spot for guys like Castillo that are still plugging away when their best years appear to be behind them, it takes a lot to go out day after day when things hurt and don’t get better quickly and you know that the fastball doesn’t quite have the same zip that it once had the legs tell you that they feel like lead. I’d like to see Castillo do well and get that one last shot in the majors, a time where the sun can shine upon him in the twilight of his career and he can go out a winner. Of course I want the same for guys like Chris George who has not had a bad season and even Andy Mitchell who was shifted to the relief role and has had some good outings after a rough start to the season. George was sent to Bowie and Mitchell appears to be back on the Tides “taxi squad” officially assigned to Aberdeen but apparently with the team.
On the offensive side of the house it looked like the Tides would match up well scoring 3 runs on 3 hits in the top of the 2nd inning, however after the 2nd inning the Tides would muster only 4 more hits. Michael Aubrey and Jonny Tucker each had doubles while Tucker and Blake Davis each had 2 hits in the game. The Tides also left 11 men on base which means that they did not capitalize on the hits that they got or the walks and errors committed by Durham. The teams meet today with Tim Bascom (2-2 5.47 ERA) on the hill for the Tides and Virgil Vasquez (3-0 4.44 ERA) pitching for the Bulls.
Until next time,