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Tides doubled up by Braves Sunday and blanked Monday end Road Trip 4-4

Chris Tillman makes what should be his last appearance in a Tides uniform tonight

The Norfolk Tides looked to be a winner on Sunday leading 4-0 in the 6th inning when things began to come apart. The Tides had taken a 3-0 lead in the top of the 3rd inning when Paco Figueroa singled and Matt Angle reached on an error and Figueroa advanced to 3rd base.  With runners on 1st and 3rd Robert Andino singled to bring home Figueroa. Michael Aubrey struck out for the second out before consecutive singles by Nolan Reimold and Lou Montanez which scored Angle and Andino to give the Tides a 3-0 lead.  In the top of the 6th the Tides added to their lead as leadoff batter Lou Montanez reached second on a throwing error by shortstop Luis Bolivar.  With 2 outs catcher Michel Hernandez delivered a single to score Montanez to give the Tides a 4-0 lead.

Starter Troy Patton who pitched a shutout for five and two thirds innings gave up a walk to Troy Glaus and then a home run to Barbaro Canizares.  He got out of the inning with the Tides still leading 4-2 and would be relieved by Pat Egan in the 7th.  Of late the Tides relief pitching has been exceptional often going long and shutting out the other team to keep the Tides in the game.  It was not so Sunday as nearly every reliever struggled to some degree in the 7th inning.  Egan allowed 2 runs on one hit but only one was earned getting only 1 man out. Alberto Castillo fared no better allowing 2 runs on 2 hits again getting only one man out and finally Jim Hoey who allowed 2 runs on 2 hits but got the final out.  Castillo (1-2 4.58 ERA) would get credit for the blown save and the loss and Braves middle reliever Michael Broadway (3-0 5.68 ERA) took the win. The Tides had 4 runs on 6 hits with no errors leaving four men stranded. The Braves 8 runs on 10 hits with 2 errors leaving 8 men on base.

On Monday night the teams played the final game of the series with the Braves shutting out the Tides 4-0. Zach Britton pitched well for the Tides giving up only 1 earned run in 5 innings work but victimized by errors committed by Blake Davis and Robert Andino.  Tides hitters were shut down by Braves starter Scott Diamond (4-0 2.41 ERA) who pitched a complete game two hit shutout. The Tides mustered no runs on 2 hits and committed two errors leaving 3 runners aboard while the Braves had 4 runs on 10 hits with one error. Barbaro Canizares homered for the Braves.  The teams meet tonight at Harbor Park with Chris Tillman (10-7 3.53 ERA) making what will likely be his final start for the Tides before going to Baltimore as a September call-up facing Jose Ortegano (3-9 6.31 ERA).  Other Tides will likely make the trip to Baltimore over the next couple of days and if I was a betting man I would guess that pitchers Armando Gabino, Frank Mata and Kam Mickolio who are all of the 40 man roster get the nod as well as Nolan Reimold, Brandon Snyder and Lou Montanez.  I would like to see a few others get called up in some case as nothing more than for loyally staying in the organization. I would like to see Dennis Sarfate, Andy Mitchell and Jim Miller get the call although only Sarfate has the numbers to support a call up. I would also like to see Paco Figueroa and Matt Angle get a few swings in the majors.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Swept: Tides Lose Finale to Bulls 8-4 and Tides Notes

Jeff Salazar homers for the Tides

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.

Chris George struggled in his first start since coming off the DL

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.

Leslie Anderson goes low and rips a single to drive in 2 runs

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.

Matt Angle hustles to get Anderson’s hit back into the infield

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.

Jose Lobaton singles

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.

Nolan Reimold has come back strong and seems to be back to who he was in 2009

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.

Robert Andino currently leads the IL in hits with 137

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.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Tides and Orioles Report: A Look at Where we Stand

As the Tides get ready for game three of their four-game set with the Syracuse Chiefs there have been some significant personnel moves which involve both the Tides and their parent organization the Baltimore Orioles.  These moves are probably just the start of moves that might take place prior to the trading deadline at the end of the month.  This is the report that I promised back at the All-Star break

To begin in Baltimore the O’s reinstated closer Mike Gonzalez after the completion of his minor league rehab for a strained left shoulder.  They made room on the 40 man roster by moving relief pitcher Jim Johnson from the 15 day disabled list to the 60 day disabled list effectively ending his season.  Johnson has been on the DL since May 28th with right elbow inflammation.  Third Baseman Josh Bell was optioned back to the Tides after going 6 for 19 (.263) in six games for the O’s.  Bell’s return to the Tides will add another strong bat to the order as well as a switch hitter.  On Tuesday the Orioles had optioned Chris Tillman back to the Tides as was reliever Frank Mata on the 19th. While disappointing for these pitchers they are both still on the 40 man roster and their return to the Tides solidifies both the starting rotation as well as the bullpen.

Some Tides are making a difference at Baltimore, especially outfielder Corey Patterson and relief pitcher Alfredo Simon.

In the moves Tides left handed pitcher Troy Patton was recalled to Baltimore after going 6 and 9 with a 4.91 ERA which was 3.44 in the last 18 games. A lot of Troy’s losses came on games where he got no run support or the opposing team was given extra chances through the errors of Tides players.  It the first time that Troy has been at the Major League level since 2007 with Houston.  The move of Patton to Baltimore means that Armando Gabino will be called upon again to make a spot start.

The Tides have 29 players on the roster 3 of which are on the DL so a player will have to be moved to keep the active roster at the 25 man limit.  My recommendation would be Tim Bascom for the time being in order to let his injury heal and to get his confidence back after several outings where he was shelled by the opposition. Pat Egan is another possibility for movement and even potentially Brandon Erbe however I would not want to see that move just yet.  There is the case of Cla Meredith who was sent to Norfolk from the Orioles and cut from the O’s 40 man roster and he has not been effective at all since coming down to Norfolk and my sources tell me that he is extremely frustrated with his situation vice the Orioles.  He could be used to sweeten any deals that the O’s make approaching the trading deadline as I believe that he can be effective at the Major League level despite his struggles here and that a fresh start may be what he needs.  Alberto Castillo has performed adequately with the exception of a couple of bad outings but it is obvious that the 35 year old lefty’s better days are behind him.  Chris George has been solid for the Tides and is good to have in the organization as a left hander and Armando Gabino is the undiscovered gem of the Tides. Gabino has pitched well in starting situations where he is 5-0 and has helped hold the bullpen together in middle to late relief.  Two men that have been up and down between the Tides and Aberdeen which is for all purposes functioning as a taxi squad are relievers Jim Miller and Andy Mitchell.  Both had rough starts to their seasons but have been solid “go to” guys when a starter gets in trouble early in the game and Miller has served well in his natural position of being a closer.  Brandon Erbe has been on the DL and while struggling early has been bereft of run support and as is the case with most of the Tides pitchers victimized by poor defense at critical junctures.  Mike Hinckley appears to have major league stuff but still needs some work as he is inconsistent.  Zack Clark also seems to be solid and except for one bad outing has done well but had almost no run support.  Zack Britton seems to be on the fast track for the majors and I am really impressed by his speed, ball movement and control as well his sense for where he needs to be on the diamond when the ball is in play.  Kam Mickolio has been on the DL much of the year and when he was healthy seemed to struggle. He has major league stuff but something needs to be fine tuned. He has been on the 7 day DL for some time now and since he is on the 40 man roster I wonder if it would not be wise at this point to move him to the 60 day DL if he is not ready in order to free up some room and give him time to heal and get his mechanics right.  He has too much potential just to let go but I wonder about leaving him in the 7 day DL limbo.  Denis Sarfate is another that is overlooked. He has been functioning for the most part as the closer and done well with the exception of one appearance.  He has great stuff with speed, control and good movement throwing in the mid to high 90s with the ability to throw hitters off with an occasional off speed pitch.  Jim Hoey looks to have promise but has not been up long enough to see how he will do in the long run.

Of position players there are a number that have been struggling or injured that might be moved to Aberdeen as a holding measure including Joey Gathright who has not been the same as he was last year when he hit .325 for the Tides.  Joey still hustles and plays hard but there is something in his mechanics that is limiting his effectiveness at the plate.  Nolan Reimold who the Orioles have invested a great deal of hope in is still only hitting .210 after leading the American League rookies in 2009 in home runs. He too had an injury that he does not seem to have bounced back from and suffered from some personal issues that have taken his focus off the game.  He does not seem to have the winning look in his eyes right now and seems to have his head down a lot.  Orioles and Tides fans really want him to succeed so I don’t know what will be the case.  Michael Aubrey has come on strong hitting 5 home runs in the last 6 games while Jeff Salazar, Matt Angle and Rhyne Hughes stay very productive.  Paco Figueroa  and Blake Davis are coming along and Jonathan Tucker shows promise.  Robert Andino has to improve defensively but he has been a clutch hitter with men in scoring position leading the Tides in RBI production.

I think that there are a good number of Tides with major league potential. Of course their disposition depends on what the Orioles do in Baltimore. The trade deadline is approaching and there are a number of players that could be moved whose moves could affect players in Norfolk and Bowie.  In the system the O’s have players that could be used to sweeten deals and would not have to be their big time prospects. We saw this in the move of Ross Wolf to get Jake Fox from Oakland.

The time has come for Andy McPhail and the Orioles to get a new manager, hopefully Buck Showalter and start shedding unproductive or underperforming players at Baltimore and in their minor league system. The teaching of fundamentals at all levels must be reemphasized especially fielding and various reaction drills.  Bobby Dickerson has really done well in changing how the Tides play, there is a lot more heads up play and players that are not on the field seem now to be in the game.  The team is responding to his leadership where maybe they had gotten used to Gary Allenson and did not respond to him as they should have done.

There is work to be done in the Orioles organization and it has to start from the top, a new manager and possibly new hitting and pitching coaches at the major league level. I think that Showalter need to be hired now and not later and that Bobby Dickerson be announced as the manager and not the interim manager of the Tides.

My prediction is that I think that the Tides will finish the season above .500 and I do not see the meltdown of last year happening with this year’s team. I think that they will finish in either second or third place in the division while Durham wins it.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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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 Dumped 7-2 by Bulls but Patterson and Simon Shine for O’s in Comeback Win against Rangers

Jim Miller continued to show composure under pressure in sending down the heart of the Bulls order in the 6th inning

The Norfolk Tides lost their second straight to division leading Durham who are by the way the best team in the International League as well as the division leader.  The Bulls defeated the Tides by a score of 7-2 on a hot and humid Friday night in Durham.  The Tides were held scoreless by Bulls starter Virgil Vasquez (4-0 3.55 ERA) and middle reliever Dale Thayer for 8 innings.  During those first 8 innings the Tides had 8 hits and loaded the bases in the 7th inning but failed to score.

Chris Tillman was recalled to the Orioles and will start against the Rangers tonight

While Bulls pitchers closed down the Tides offense the Bulls worked over Tides starter Tim Bascom (2-3 5.87 ERA) who gave up 5 runs, 4 of which were earned on 7 hits in 4.1 innings work.  Jim Miller came on in middle relief and got the Tides out of the 5th inning and then got in early trouble in the 6th but after giving up a run and having 2 men on base struck out Tides killers Elliott Johnson and Justin Ruggiano finishing the inning by getting Dan Johnson to fly out.  It was a case of Miller keeping his composure against the Durham offense which leads the league in hitting despite getting in trouble. Though he gave up a run the performance shows that Miller is on his way to becoming an excellent all round relief pitcher that can pitch in any situation.  Pat Egan also gave up a run while Armando Gabino closed out the Bulls in the 8th when they were threatening again.

With the score 7-0 in the top of the 9th it appeared that the Tides were on their way to being shut out and sent home, but they did not quit and got a rally of sorts going as Paco Figueroa and Blake Davis had back to back home runs off of Bulls reliever Darin Downs and had a runner on base before Robert Andino grounded out to end the game.

The game was not the best for the Tides in fact the failure to score early and Bascom’s lack of success being clearly overmatched by the Bulls’ offense ensured that they would not win this game. On the positive side the performance of Jim Miller who despite getting in trouble in the top of the 6th was able to keep his composure and mow down the heart of the Bulls order was a positive take away as were the two home runs by Figueroa and Davis in the 9th inning.

Alfredo Simon notched his 12th save following Corey Patterson’s Grand Slam in the 9th and Jake Fox’s solo shot in the 10th in the O’s comeback win against the Rangers on Friday Night

Tonight the teams meet again this time in the friendly confines of Harbor Park with Brian Baker (7-0 2.50 ERA) taking the hill for the Bulls against a yet unannounced Tides starter. Chris Tillman who was the scheduled starter was recalled by the Orioles and it would be my guess that either Chris George or Andy Mitchell could be brought back to the team or that Armando Gabino could reprise his starting role where he had success the last time that Tillman was called up by the O’s.

Speaking of the Orioles for the second night in a row they had a 9th inning comeback and stunned the powerful Texas Rangers.  Last night behind by a score of 6-2 the Orioles loaded the bases and with two outs former Tides outfielder Corey Patterson went yard against one of the best closers in the league, All-Star rookie closer Neftali Feliz for a grand slam home run which tied the game. In the 10th Jake Fox newly acquired from the Athletics in a deal which sent Tides reliever Ross Wolf to the A’s homered to give the Tides the lead and former Tides starter and now Orioles closer Alfredo Simon came in to send the Rangers down in order for his 12th save of the year. Jason Berken (2-0 2.01 ERA) got the win for the O’s. Chris Tillman will start for the O’s tonight in Arlington and we hope that he will get his first Major League win of the year against the Rangers after pitching so well for the Tides.  The Orioles are evaluating catcher Matt Wieters and outfielder Felix Pie after both incurred injuries in the game. If one or both end up on the DL Josh Bell will likely remain in Baltimore instead of returning to Norfolk and conceivably outfielder Jeff Salazar could be called up to fill in for Pie.

With the Tides back in town yours truly will be at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish to be there to record the action and enjoy the game.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Bulls Stomp Tides 11-3 in First Game of Series

Zack Clark was rung up for 6 runs on Thursday

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,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tillman Throws 1 Hit Shutout Tides Win 2-0

Chris Tillman chalked up another win this time a 1 hit shutout against the Charlotte Knights

Chris Tillman continued his dominance of the International League pitching a one hit shutout against the Charlotte Knights on Monday afternoon.  Tillman (8-4 2.72 ERA) gave up one hit a single to Jordan Danks in the 3rd inning in which Danks was erased in a double play and a 6th inning walk to Danks.  In doing so Tillman faced only 28 hitters throwing 99 pitches of which 64 were strikes.

The Tides offense was minimal but a two run home run by Rhyne Hughes off of Charlotte ace Dan Hudson (11-4 3.47 ERA) in the 4th inning provided the Tides all the offense that they needed due to Tillman’s masterful pitching.  The Tides mustered only 5 hits but they were enough for the win.

Tillman has not lost since returning from his stint in Baltimore where for whatever reason he struggled. I do not think that this was in any means due to his pitching ability but rather self confidence that comes from winning and being on a winning team. In a number of his outings in Baltimore Tillman pitched reasonably well but had no run support from the Orioles offense, something that has plagued every member of the Orioles pitching staff to one degree or another this season even when they pitch well.  Tillman has shown maturity in pitching so well since returning to the Tides, others have not fared so well and not just on the Tides, the minors are littered with pitchers who after being sent back got worse and ended up disappearing from baseball. The psychological blow of being a top prospect, getting to the Majors and then returning to the minors can be devastating, but Tillman has handled this well and I expect that he will return to the Orioles and do quite well once he and the other Orioles pitchers get the badly needed hitting support required if they are to post wins.

As for how the Tides are doing it is a case of making improvements but not yet being consistent in their performance. Their team batting average is .244 still last in the league but only a few points from respectability.  Likewise the team pitching ERA is improving but marginally as with few exceptions the pitching staff has not been consistent case in point being the blown save and win by Tides pitchers on last Thursday where relievers gave up 7 runs in the last three innings after a great start by Troy Patton.  Good performances are subverted by less than stellar performances by others.  There are some pitchers that will need to go unless a marked improvement is shown, particularly Alberto Castillo and Cla Meredith.  I do think that with a little more seasoning that Troy Patton and Brandon Erbe will do fine, Chris George is a keeper and Andy Mitchell while having seen better days is mature and probably a good person to have in the clubhouse and is great in situational relief where his submarine style crosses up batters that have been used to hard throwing overhand pitchers like Tillman.  Jim Miller after a rough start is turning into a winner on a consistent basis and has been solid in middle relief as well as in the closer role, he actually should be more closely looked at by both the Orioles and scouts from other teams.   Armando Gabino has had many good outings and pitched well as a starter and reliever.  Denis Sarfate has been spot on most of the season but something has gotten to him in his last couple of outings so one hopes that he will regain whatever he has lost in the past few games.

Tonight the Tides go down to Georgia with the Tides’ Zach Britton facing Mike Minor of the Braves.

Later,

Peace, Padre Steve

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