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All Star Break Norfolk Tides Wrap Up

Armando Gabino has been an excellent spot starter and middle reliever for the Tides on Sunday he picked up his 5th win against the powerful Durham Bulls

The Norfolk Tides played the Durham Bulls much better in the friendly confines of Harbor Park than they did in Durham last week splitting a pair where they could easily have won both games.  On Saturday the Bulls and Tides played a very even game that had both teams with 12 hits the difference being a 3 run 5th inning where the Bulls had three consecutive singles to load the bases on Tides starter Chris George and despite a double play would manufacture 3 runs against George.  The Tides did not help their own causes despite the number of hits given up by Durham pitchers leaving the bases loaded in the 1st, 3rd and 5th innings.  In all the Tides would strand 14 runners, 9 in scoring position with two outs mostly because the bottom third of the batting order which had recently getting very clutch hits went 2 for 12 with two walks, both hits coming from the bat of Blake Davis.  In addition to Davis Matt Angle, Jeff Salazar and Nolan Reimold all had multiple hit games with Reimold connecting on his 6th home run, a solo shot in the 7th inning off of Bulls reliever Michael Eckstrom.

Andy Mitchell did an excellent job in middle relief in a losing effort Saturday night

A tide pitching with the exception of the 5th inning was very good and even in the 5th inning it was a successive collection of quirky hits that got Chris George in trouble.  George (4-4 4.36 ERA) got the loss going 4.2 innings giving up 4 runs on 8 hits walking 1 and striking out 4. Andy Mitchell gave up 1 run on 4 hits in 3.1 innings of work.  Mitchell needs to be given credit; he has come in on a number of occasions this year and pitched 3-5 innings of solid relief which has saved some of the other members of the bullpen from being used up after multiple games of relief.  Andy has made the transition from starting pitcher to reliever and continues to improve. He is not young anymore but in the right spots he has what it takes to be the man to stand in the gap so to speak to give his team mates in the bullpen badly needed rest.

Robert Andino singles in the 3rd inning on Sunday against Durham

The Bulls as I said had 12 hits with several players having multiple hit games. Among them was Angel Chavez who went 2-4 with 2 RBIs and Joe Dillon who also went 2-4 with two doubles, one each of George and Mitchell and 1 RBI.  Apart from Dillon the Tides pitchers allowed no other extra base hits to the very powerful Bulls offense.  Michael Eckstrom (4-1 2.61 ERA) got the win in relief for the Bulls and Winston Abreu got his 11th save of the campaign.  The Bulls had 5 runs on 12 hits and no errors leaving 9 men stranded.  The Tides had 3 runs on 12 hits with 1 error leaving 14 men on base.

Matt Angle scores a key run in the 7th inning

On Sunday Armando Gabino made a spot start for the Tides as Bobby Dickerson juggled his pitching staff with the departure of Chris Tillman to Baltimore and Chris George and Andy Mitchell both added back to the Tides roster.  Gabino has been very effective both as a middle reliever where he began the year as well as in spot starts and was so again going 6.1 innings giving up no runs and only 3 hits striking out 4 and walking none.  Alberto Castillo pitched an inning of scoreless relief but Pat Egan who game in with 1 out in the top of the 8th was crushed by a hit starved Durham lineup giving up 4 runs on 3 hits and a walk, one of the hits being a 3 run home run by Justin Ruggiano and a ground rule double to Dan Johnson with 1 out in the top of the 9th.  Denis Sarfate came in to get the last two outs, a double play to end the inning and the game.

Chris Tillman and Jake Arietta both won against the Rangers this weekend


Alfredo Simon went from Tides Starter to Orioles Closer

Tides hitters had 8 hits and a walk with the damage to Bulls pitching coming in the bottom of the 3rd inning and bottom of the 7th inning using small ball, a collection of 3 singles, a walk and a couple of fielder’s choice situations which netted the Tides runs.  In the bottom of the 7th it was a leadoff double by Blake Davis as well as singles by Matt Angle and Robert Andino to score two more runs without which Durham may have just won the game despite the pitching of Gabino.  Gabino held the Bulls down but once again the Bulls showed just how good that they are in the 9th inning rally that came close to stealing the game from the Tides.

Gabino got the win and Denis Sarfate got his 11th save of the season.  Bulls starter Carlos Hernandez (6-5 4.09 ERA) took the loss.  The Bulls had 4 runs on 7 hits with no errors leaving 2 aboard. The Tides had 5 runs on 8 hits and no errors leaving 4 runners stranded.

The Tides will not play again until Thursday when the teams return to action following the AAA All-Star Game break; the All-Star game will be played at Coca Cola Field in Allentown PA, the home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs with Jeff Salazar on the roster for the Tides.  Chris Tillman was also named to the squad but was removed following his call up to Baltimore.

The Tides go into the break with a record of 42 wins and 50 losses in last place in the International League South. They are half a game behind the Gwinnett Braves who are 42-49 and 5 games behind Charlotte who have a record of 45-47.  Right now no one is contending with Durham, the Bull’s leading not only the Southern Division but the International League with a record of 55 wins and 35 losses.  The biggest challenge will be consistence and experience for the Tides as the Orioles still with many injuries to key players will continue to rely on the Tides for replacements the remainder of the season.  However, the Orioles are starting to look better being 12 and 12 since June 15th sweeping a four game set with the Western Division leading Texas Rangers in Arlington in the series prior to the break and it is possible that they could finish the season, even if a losing one with a measure of respectability as the team seems to be coming together with a lot of great performances by former Tides Corey Patterson, Jason Berken and Alfredo Simon.  Additionally Chris Tillman and Jake Arietta both had excellent starts in against Texas having back to back wins for the first time since they played for the Tides.

Tomorrow a look at the Major Leagues as I analyze the first half of the season and prognosticate about the second half that begins after the All-Star break including my post season picks. I have never tried to pick this far out so we will see how good I am.  Don’t forget my record in the 2009 playoffs and World’s Series was pretty impressive, especially my game by game World Series predictions.

Peace, Padre Steve+

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Tides Win 7-6 in Walk-off Fashion

Tides Reliever Jim Miller provided the Tides with the Opportunity to Win on Saturday Night at Harbor Park

The Norfolk Tides under the management of Bobby Dickerson have become a much more competitive team than under Gary Allenson and this was nowhere more in display than last night where after dropping three of the last four games to the Knights the Tides pulled victory from the jaws of defeat by coming back and then holding the Knights before having to pull out a victory in the 9th inning.

Paco Figueroa slides in safe at home in the 2nd Inning

Tim Bascom started the game for the Tides but got into trouble in each of the second, third and fourth innings. Bascom would only pitch 3.2 innings giving up 5 runs on 7 hits including a 2 run home run by Josh Kroeger along with 2 walks and a hit batsman before being pulled by Bobby Dickerson with two outs in the top of the 4th inning.  Dickerson made the right move putting in Jim Miller who had pitched a one-two-three 9th inning on Friday. Miller entered the game with two on and two out and got Josh Kroeger to fly out.  Miller pitched two more innings of scoreless relief getting out of a bases loaded and one out situation in the top of the 5th inning before sending the Knights down in order in the 6th. In fact in my opinion it was the switch to Miller and Miller’s gutsy performance that put the Tides in position to be able to win the game.

Robert Andino beginning his slide to score a run in the 7th inning

Miller was followed in the 7th inning by Pat Egan who also ran into trou8ble but was able to pitch his way out of it and Alberto Castillo who did the same in the 8th inning.

While the relief corps bent but didn’t break the Tides offense chipped away at the Charlotte lead. The Tides scored two in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Rhyne Hughes walked and was driven home by a Paco Figueroa double. Figueroa scored on a Blake Davis single.  The Tides scored again in the bottom of the 4th and once again it was the Hughes-Figueroa and Davis combination that plated the run.  Hughes singed and was sacrificed to 2nd base on a bunt by Figueroa.  Hughes then scored on Davis’ second RBI single.  The Tides scored again in the bottom of the 5th to narrow the margin to 5-4. Matt Angle singled and moved to second on a Robert Andino single. The next batter was AAA All-Star bound Jeff Salazar who plated Angle with another single.

Nolan Reimold provided the game winning hit with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th

In the bottom of the 7th inning the Tides took the lead on a combination of good hitting and two errors in one play by the Knights.  Matt Angle walked to lead off the inning and moved to second as Robert Andino collected another single.  Jeff Salazar popped up for the first out and was followed by Nolan Reimold who walked to load the bases.  Then in what proved to be a mistake that would haunt the Knights Rhyne Hughes grounded to first base and First Baseman Josh Kroeger threw to Shortstop Robert Hudson for the force out at second. Then Hudson trying to get the double play and threw the ball away. Angle scored to tie the game but then for Charlotte the unthinkable happened, Josh Kroeger got to the ball and threw to the plate to attempt to get Andino who was driving for home. Kroeger’s throw went awry and Andino scored to give the Tides a 6-5 lead.

Neither side scored during the 8th inning. In the 9th inning closer Denis Sarfate took the hill for the Tides to try to get the save.  Sarfate who until late was lights out in relief, especially when closing had blown the save and lost Thursday’s game had control trouble and never really looked comfortable. He walked Donny Lucy and Lucy advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Brent Morrel. Robert Hudson doubled to score Lucy before Sarfate after a meeting on the mound with Bobby Dickerson struck out Alejando De Aza and got Fernando Cortez to ground out to end the inning.

The teams went to the bottom of the 9th knotted at six runs apiece and it looked like that Charlotte reliever Clevlan Santiliz would get the game into extra innings. Santiliz had come into the game in the 8th and sent the first five Tides that he faced down in order to include 5 strikeouts. However with 2 outs Jeff Salazar walked giving the Tides a glimmer of hope.  At this point Nolan Reimold who had not had a good game offensively stepped into the batter’s box to face the Charlotte reliever.  Reimold slammed a drive down the right field line into the corner which eluded Charlotte Right Fielder Stefan Gartrell.  Salazar running all the way scored easily from 1st base and in doing so brought the victory to the Tides.

Santiliz (0-4 5.97 ERA) got the loss while Denis Sarfate (1-1 4.25 ERA) despite blowing the save got the win for the Tides.  The Knights had 6 runs on 13 hits but committed the two critical errors in the 7th inning and left 14 men on base.  The Tides had 7 runs on 10 hits with no errors stranding 7 runners.  The teams meet again tonight in Charlotte with left hander Chris George (3-3 4.44 ERA) taking the hill for the Tides against Knight’s right-hander Lucas Harrell (6-7 4.04 ERA).  The Tides will be on the road this week in Charlotte and Gwinnett before returning for two games with the Braves prior to the AAA All-Star break.

In Boston today the Orioles behind the pitching of Brian Matusz who went 7 innings allowing only 2 hits and a strong offensive performance defeated the Red Sox at Fenway Park by a score of 6-1 after having been beaten in the first two games of the weekend series.

Peace and Happy Independence Day,

Padre Steve+

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