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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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Bats Must Need Hats….Tides fall to Durham 7-2

Brandon Erbe got the start and the loss for the Tides

The Norfolk Tides had no luck on Saturday as they were manhandled by the Durham Bulls 7-2 on a beautiful North Carolina spring afternoon.  The Tides started Brandon Erbe who faced Durham’s Carlos Hernandez.  Today was Brandon’s second International League start for the Tides after a disappointing debut for the Orioles prospect in Norfolk on Monday.  Yet the Tides hitters failed to produce runs that might have supported Erbe and the relievers with Rhyne Hughes driving in both of Norfolk’s runs. It is starting to look like at least some of the hitters for the Tides might need hats for their bats like Pedro Cerrano in Major League.

Today the Tides got out to an early lead when the streaking Rhyne Hughes extended his hitting streak to nine games driving in Robert Andino with a double to right.  Erbe held the Bulls scoreless through the first three innings then began to weaken in the fourth when Justin Ruggiano homered to right to tie the game.  The Tides lost an opportunity in the fifth when with Joey Gathright at the plate Jonathan Tucker was gunned down trying to steal second and as luck would have it Gathright doubled immediately following the out.  Robert Andino then grounded out to end the inning leaving Gathright stranded at second.

The Bulls took the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Elliott Johnson doubled to score Fernando Perez. They would add to the lead in the sixth when Hank Blalock and Dan Johnson singled and Blalock was driven in on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Shealy. Chris Richard then doubled to left scoring Johnson. This brought Gary Allenson to the mound and Erbe headed to the clubhouse with Ross Wolf coming in to relieve Erbe. Wolf was able to stop the bleeding and end the inning.  In the top of the seventh Heath Rollins relieved Hernandez and sent the Tides down in order. Wolf gave up three singles in the fourth inning to Ruggiano, Blalock and Shealy with Shealy driving in Ruggiano to extend the Durham lead to 5-1.

Durham hitters like Dan Johnson continued to pound Tides pitchers

The Tides attempted a rally in the top of the eighth. Joey Gathright singled to left to begin the inning and was followed by Andino who struck out swinging.  Rhyne Hughes who had driven in the Tides only run came to the plate. Gathright took the opportunity and stole second base. Hughes then continued his hot hitting doubling for the second time in the evening to bring Gathright home.  Unfortunately for the Tides neither Brandon Snyder nor Scott Moore was able to extend the rally and the Tides went into the bottom of the eighth down 5-2.

The Bulls went back to work in the bottom of the eighth against Alberto Castillo who came into the game to relieve Ross Wolf.  Castillo fared no better than the previous Tides pitchers and gave up a single to Angel Chavez to start the inning. He got Jose Lobaton to strike out swinging and Fernando Perez to fly to right.  Then lightening struck when Elliott Johnson smashed his first home run of the season over the right field fence making the lead 7-2.  Winston Abreu came in to close out the game and did not disappoint the Bull’s fans.  After surrendering a base on balls to Josh Bell he got Jeff Salazar and Adam Donachie on strike outs and Jonathan Tucker to fly out to Center Fielder Justin Ruggiano to end the game.

Erbe got his second loss of the season pitching 5.1 innings giving up 4 runs on 7 hits including the home run by Ruggiano and striking out 4.  Hernandez got the win going 6 innings giving up 1 run on 5 hits with 5 strike outs.  Once again Rhyne Hughes proved his value to the Tides with two doubles and two RBIs. He has now hit in nine consecutive games. Hughes is hitting .394 with a home run, triple and four doubles with 9 RBIs and scoring seven.  The acquisition of Hughes last year by the Orioles might well be one of the best moves made by Orioles management and one that good benefit the O’s later in the season or in 2011.  Hughes is on the 40 man roster and should there be a need in the outfield at Orioles Park.

The Tides and Bulls play Sunday to complete the series with Chris Tillman scheduled to take the mound for the Tides in search of his first victory of the 2010 season.  The Tides will return to Harbor Park on Monday where they will face the Gwinnett Braves.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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