The Monday afternoon businessman’s special “getaway” game between the Durham Bulls and the Norfolk Tides was anything but special as the Tides went down to their 5th consecutive loss falling the Durham Bulls by a score of 8-4. In the previous 4 games at Harbor Park the Tides were competitive and though they did not win were in each game until the end. On Monday the wear of the long season, the disappointment in not coming away with wins that very easily could have been theirs and the ambiguity that most of the team faces in regards to their future with the organization showed as the Tides seemed flat and lifeless despite scoring 4 runs on 12 hits.
Tides starter Chris George coming back from an elbow injury incurred when a line drive struck him against Indianapolis was not effective throwing 66 pitches in just 2.2 innings giving up 4 runs on 6 hits striking out 4 and walking 2. With the exception of Dennis Sarfate all of the Tides relievers struggled as the Tides gave up 8 runs on 14 hits and walking 4 while the defense committed two errors. The 5 pitchers threw a total of 176 pitches an average of almost 20 pitches an inning. The bullpen will need a strong start by Troy Patton tonight in Durham, or for someone like Andy Mitchell, Mike Hinckley or Jim Miller to provide some effective long relief in order to rest these arms as the rest of the bullpen has thrown a lot of pitches over the past few games.
Tides hitters did lay down the hits and Jeff Salazar had a home run and a double, while Robert Andino had a double that drove in his 74th RBI of the year. However the Tides never score more than one run in any given inning as Durham pitching and defense was solid cutting up rallies before they could mature and score more runs. Of note were two plays at first base where Bulls First Baseman Leslie Anderson made spectacular stops of sharply hit balls down the line to prevent Michael Aubrey and Scott more from both having extra base hits that would have drove in runs very possibly altering the tempo, character and outcome of the game.
The Bulls were opportunistic as is their nature. This is a much disciplined team the best in Triple-A baseball and their hitters seem always to do an excellent job of hitting the ball where the opposition is not. Their “small ball” feeds their power. They get men aboard with bloop hits, Seeing Eye grounders, well placed bunts and balls hit behind runners. As they chip away at the opposition with this kind of game the Bulls power hitters take advantage of nearly every mistake made by an opposing pitcher and even well pitched balls to drive in runs. They are seldom out of a game. It is no wonder that they lead their nearest division rival the Gwinnett Braves by 19 games with a 82 win and 47 loss record.
Anuery Rodriguez (6-5 3.72 ERA) got the win and Chris George (5-7 4.45 ERA) took the loss. I do think that from watching Chris that he was still sore from his injury and not comfortable on the mound. The Bulls had 8 runs on 14 hits with no errors stranding 11 runners and the Tides 4 runs on 12 hits with 2 errors leaving 12 men aboard. Tonight Troy Patton (7-10 4.85 ERA) will take the hill in Durham for the Tides facing Richard De Los Santos (13-5 3.59 ERA) will start for the Bulls. De Los Santos is tied for the league lead in wins.
A few Tides notes, Robert Andino leaders the league in hits (137) as well as errors (28) and 4th in RBIs with 74. Michael Aubrey leads the time with 18 home runs in only 91 games and his slugging percentage is now .489 the 11th in the league. Nolan Reimold who after being injured last year in Baltimore, being sent down to the Tides and having fought through the physical aspects of his injury as well and the mental side of the game has come in strong since the All-Star break and now has a .366 on base percentage and in his last 10 games is hitting .344 with a .548 on base percentage and .406 slugging percentage. He has also become an effective base stealer with 9 steals to his credit only being caught twice in 11 attempts, not bad for a big man who has overcome a serious and nagging injury to his Achilles tendon.
An interesting note on the team average, in 2009 the Tides were hit .272 as a team, second best in the league with several players above .300 or in the .280 and above bracket. They only hit 78 home runs during 2009 but had 259 doubles and 30 triples with 603 runs scored. In 2010 they are hitting as of today .253 (-.19) but have hit 110 home runs (+32). However they have just 218 doubles (-41) and 23 triples (-7) scoring 566 runs. In 2009 the Tides had 1283 hits as opposed to 1114 (-169) this year and both the slugging and on base percentages are slightly down this year. Another key statistic is strike outs, last year the Tides had just 814 in the season and 888 already in 2010. They had 132 stolen bases in 176 attempts as opposed to 115 steals in 160 attempts this year. Now this seasons statistics are not final, there is a chance that the Tides will surpass the number of runs scored in 2009 but will fall short in other areas.
I will be talking more about trends in statistics and players comparing this year with 2009 and making my “if I were Andy McPhail” recommendations for the September call up and Tides to hold onto for 2011 over the next couple of weeks. I will also provide my analysis of how the team did include reason that I think the team did not do as well as I thought that they would this year. I do think that the Tides are better than their record indicates and that many of the Tides have legitimate shots at being regulars in the Major Leagues, be it with the Orioles or other organizations and I will talk about that subject as well in the coming weeks. These will be part of the regular posts and show up on the Norfolk Tides Scouting Report as well.