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Tides Pound Yankees 12-4 at Harbor Park

Jake Arrieta got his 3rd win of the season on Tuesday against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees

The big guns of the Norfolk Tides finally opened fire at Harbor Park on a cloudy, warm and humid Tuesday afternoon at Harbor Park and left the pitching staff of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees in shambles.  4541 fans came out for this business person’s special which began at 1215 and the Tides fans among them went away very satisfied as the Tides pounded out 12 runs on 16 hits and committed no errors to split the series with the Yankees.

Scott Moore hit his 3rd home run of the season

Tuesday was a far different affair than the previous three games against the Yankees where in 27 innings the team managed just 5 runs and had no home runs.  Jake Arrieta was not as sharp as he has been but still picked up the win going five innings giving up 2 runs on 2 hits but surrendering five walks to the Yankees.  Yankees starter Zack McAllister went just 3 innings and was tagged for 7 runs on 9 hits including 2 home runs while reliever Amaury Sanit fared little better giving up 5 runs on 5 hits including 2 home runs in two innings work.

Adam Donachie had key hits including a bunt single and a RBI double

The Tides offensive barrage began in the 1st inning when leadoff batter Robert Andino hit the fourth pitch of the game over the left field wall off of Zack McAllister.  In the second inning the Tides went back to work.  Corey Patterson who went four for four on Monday connected and doubled to right. He was followed by Scott Moore who homered to right field getting down in the count 0-2.  The Tides threatened more in the inning as Michael Aubrey came to the plate and singled and Adam Donachie was safe on a force attempt on a throwing error by McAllister.  Blake Davis flied out to center and then on an unusual play hit a fly ball to right which Yankees Right Fielder David Winfree caught and threw back in to McAllister.  On the play Aubrey had advanced to third but was called out when the Yankees claimed that he had tagged too soon and McAllister threw to Eduardo Nunez for the double play.

Josh Bell hit his 4th home run of the season

After a scoreless 3rd inning the Yankees went quietly in the top of the fourth.  It was then that the Tides hits blitzed McAllister and Sanit with a fearsome hitting attack.  Scott Moore and Michael Aubrey both singled to put runners on first and second with no outs.  Adam Donachie then bunted successfully to load the bases.  Up came Blake Davis who doubled to left scoring Moore and Aubrey.  This ended McAllister’s day and Amuary Sanit (1-0 5.54) got the call to try to stop the Tides barrage.  Like McAllister he faced Robert Andino as his first batter and Andino wasted no time whatsoever blasting the first pitch over the left center field wall top clear the bases.  Joey Gathright grounded out and the Yankees must have felt that the worst was over.  However that would not be the case.  Jeff Salazar singled and was driven home when Josh Bell hitting from the left side of the plate hit his first Harbor Park home run taking the first pitch from Sanit to the opposite field over the left field wall.  Corey Patterson grounded out and with no one on base and two outs the Yankees found that the Tides were not finished.  Sanit walked Scott Moore on four pitches and was followed by Michael Aubrey who doubled to score Moore.  Adam Donachie doubled to right on the first pitch delivered by Sanit to score Aubrey to make the score 12-0.  At long last following a wild pitch which allowed Donachie to take third Sanit was able to get out of the inning by striking out Blake Davis.

Robert Andino hit his 3rd and 4th home runs of the season Tuesday

The Yankees got two runs back in the top of the 5th inning as Arrieta began to have some control problems. Jake walked former Tides Catcher Robby Hammock and then former Tides Catcher Chad Moeller singled.  Hammock had been released by the Orioles at the end of last season and Moeller during spring training and both were signed to minor league contracts by the Yankees.  Kevin Russo walked to load the bases and the Yankees got their first run when Arrieta walked Reegie Corona scoring Hammock. Edaurdo Nunez then grounded into a force out which scored Moeller before Arrieta got Juan Miranda to hit into a 5-4-3 double play.

Michael Aubrey went 3 for 4 with a double and an RBI

Ross Wolf (0-0 2.76) came in at the top of the 6th inning to relieve Arrieta who had made 92 pitches. Wolf sent the Yankees down in order in the 6th and finally the Yankees were able to put a lid on the Tides offensive juggernaut although the Tides had another big scoring opportunity in the bottom of the 6th when Zack Segovia (1-1 7.71) who had come on in relief of Sanit hit Josh Bell, gave up a single to Corey Patterson and had Scott Moore reach on a throwing error by Eduardo Nunez.  Segovia got out of the inning by striking out Michael Aubrey, Adam Donachie and Blake Davis in order.

In the 7th inning Ross Wolf retired the first two batters and then walked Kevin Russo. Russo was followed by Reegie Corona who after getting down in the count 0-2 kept fouling balls off until he launched a home runner over the right field wall.  Wolf then retired Eduardo Nunez to end the inning but pounded his fist in his glove in frustration for giving up the two out home run after nearly having Corona out.

In the 8th inning Jim Johnson (0-0 0.00) made his first appearance for the Tides this year after being sent down from Baltimore when Brad Bergeson was brought back to the team from the Tides. Johnson allowed a 2 out double to Jon Weber but allowed no runs.  The Yankees brought in Tim Norton (0-0 0.00) to pitch to the Tides.  Norton gave up a leadoff double to Josh Bell.  Corey Patterson grounded out and Scott Moore flied out.  Michael Aubrey walked and with runners on first and third Adam Donachie flied out to center to end the inning.  Frank Mata (1-0 1.50 S4) came in to close the game for the Tides in a non-save situation and put down the Yankees in order.

In all the Tides scored 12 runs on 16 hits with no errors leaving 8 men on base. The Yankees had 4 runs on 4 hits and two errors with 6 left on base. Corey Patterson went 2-5 today and ended the series with the Yankees at 9 for 16.  Josh Bell hit his fourth home run, Robert Andino got numbers three and four and Scott Moore got his third dinger of the season.

Jake Arrieta (3-1 1.50) got the win and Zack McAllister (0-2 5.52) got the loss.  The Tides get a well deserved day off on Wednesday and return to Harbor Park to face the Toledo Mud Hens with Chris George (1-1 4.24) taking the hill for the Tides going up against Toledo’s Armando Galarraga (3-2 2.30).  The weather should be great with daytime highs in the mid- 80’s and clear skies. See you there.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, Batlimore Orioles, norfolk tides

Crossing the Mendoza Line: It’s not All about the Lifetime Batting Average

Hammock Grand SlamRobby Hammock Crossing the Plate after his Grand Slam in the Bottom of the 6th against Charlotte

When I was playing baseball I hit somewhere around the Mendoza line.  I was never much of a hitter but I made up for my lack of hitting by being pretty solid defensively, a pretty versatile utility player and hustling on every play.  Likewise I would be the guy encouraging other players.   On two different teams in two different sports I was named the “Most Inspirational Player” by my teammates.  Being the most inspirational player does not mean that you are a particularly good ballplayer but rather that you add something else to the team dynamic.  In fact you may not be admired for how well you play, but rather how hard you try and how you get along with your team mates.  I was talking to my dad who is now in a nursing home with end stage Alzheimer’s disease on my last visit.  In a rare moment I had him back talking baseball I thanked him for how he helped me learn to love the game, pitch and field, especially fielding.  I said to him, the only thing that you didn’t do was teach me to hit.  He looked up at me and said “Son, there are a lot of people who can’t hit, it’s a gift.”  So I guess I was doomed to be a Mendoza Line player.

Mario Mendoza played for the Pirates and Mariners.  To be kind he was an amazing defensive shortstop but he as my dad would have said” Couldn’t hit his way out of a wet paper bag.”  His career average was .215 although he often flitted and flirted with the .180 – .200 level. He never played in an All Star game or World Series.  He never hit more than two home runs in a season, in fact one was an inside the park job playing for the Mariners and he hit below .200 in five of his nine major league seasons.   However, despite that Mario Mendoza lives on in baseball, his name forever associated with a low batting average.  In modern baseball parlance the Mendoza line is considered a batting average of .200.  Credit for who coined the term goes depending on your source to either George Brett, the All-Star Third Baseman of the Kansas City Royals or fellow Seattle Mariners Tom Paciorek or Bruce Bochte from whom Brett may have heard the term.  Either way the term stuck after ESPN commentator Chris Berman who used the term in 1988 to describe the hitting struggles of a star power hitter.  Once Berman made the comment it became a pretty standard way of denoting guys who struggle at the plate.  Mexican sportscaster Oscar Soria corroborates the Paciorek and Bochte version referencing a conversation with Mario Mendoza while Mendoza was managing the Obregon Yaquis in the Mexican Pacific League who stated that Mendoza said “that Tom Paciorek was the first to mention the phrase “Mendoza Line” when he read the Sunday paper” and that “then George Brett heard about that.”  Soria then discussed how Mendoza was initially angered by Berman’s use of the term but now “he enjoys the fame of the phrase Mendoza line.”  For a really good discussion of the Mendoza Line see the article in the Baseball Almanac at: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/books/mendozas_heroes_book.shtml, from which the information above is gleaned.

Now my buddy Elliott the Usher and I have frequent discussions about the game discussing pitching, hitting, fielding, base running, prospects, scouting and strategy.  Elloitt is one of those gems of Baseball knowledge, his love and knowledge of the game shows in the way he deals with people including Major League Scouts, players from the Tides and visiting team who are charting the game and others.  I really think that he should be hired as a commentator or color man on some baseball broadcast.  This season we have enjoyed a lot of laughs as well as had a lot great talks amid the joys and sorrows of the season.  One of our frequent subjects of discussion is players on our team as well as the visiting teams who are hitting near or below the Mendoza Line.  We have a few on the Tides who are hovering at or below the Mendoza line.  A couple of these players are former Major Leaguers and a couple career minor league guys.  Last night I decided to venture out for the first time in two days since I was now getting a case of “cabin fever” and my cocktail of Vicodin, Motrin and Amoxicillin seemed to have my pain and swelling a bit more under control.  Judy said my cheek still looks “like a squirrel’s” but at least I wasn’t in too bad of pain, though when I got up in the morning and until 2 or 3 PM I was still pretty sore and tired.  At least for the majority of the game the pain was manageable and of course as soon as I got home I dumped a butt load of meds down me and went to sleep.

Last night the Tides swept a double header from the Charlotte Knights who are the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.  Since the game was rain delayed after a series of severe storms raked the area in the two hours prior to the first pitch it was not well attended.  Because of this I was able to flit between my buddies Barry down in section 102 and Elliott.   It was good to be able in a fairly relaxed atmosphere to talk about the game.  The Tides had lost the last game prior to the All Star Break in Durham and then the first game back from the break.  In those two games their hitting died and they were outscored 16-3.  Last night Chris Tillman was throwing an outstanding game having given up just one run in the first inning.  It wasn’t until the 6th inning until the Tides scored their first run with one out when Michael Aubry doubled to score Justin Turner to tie the game 1-1.  The Tides then loaded the bases and Brandon Pinkney struck out for the second out.  At this point with the bases loaded, Elliott and I gave a mutual groan.  One of our “below the Mendoza Line” batters, catcher Robby Hammock was coming to the plate.  Robby is a good defensive catcher and while playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks caught Randy Johnson’s perfect game in 2003.  However this year has seen Robby really struggle at the plate.  The count went to two and from the way Robby had been swinging the bat tonight Elliott turned to me and said “I can’t look.”  Robby then fouled off the next pitch.  I said “Elliott he’s dragging this out.” Then I yelled “Hey Mendoza! Get a hit!”   At this point Robby who is currently hitting .190 stood back into the batter’s box.  The pitch from Knight’s reliever John Link was a slider that didn’t cut and Robby planted it in the picnic area in Left Center for a Grand Slam home run.  Elliott and I rejoiced, Robby had maybe gotten the hit that would re-ignite the team for the second half of the season.  This blew the game open and the Tides went on to win 5-1.  Robby was quoted in the Virginia Pilot today about the hit “I closed my eyes and put my bat in the spot” and “I felt decent today, I just got lucky and that’s all there was to it.”  Tides fans are not complaining even if it was lucky, I’m happy for you Robby, you helped get us back on track enjoy the moment and keep hanging in there.

The hitting surge continued in the second game.  Jeff Fiorentino and Michael Aubrey, who are .300 hitters, Fiorentino about .325 right now and way above the Mendoza Line each had 2 hits and drove in two runs while our other way below the Mendoza Line players had a good night. Infielder Carlos Rojas was in at Third due to injuries that forced Manager Gary Allenson to reshuffle the line up.  Carlos is a pretty good defensive player with pretty good range.  However he was only hitting .156 going into the game but went 2-3 with two singles in what I think was his first multi-hit game of the season.  Catcher Chad Moeller who has struggled at the plate since coming down from Baltimore when Matt Wieters was called up also doubled and scored a run as the Tides took the second game 5-1 with Chris Waters getting the win.

All in all it was not a bad night for our guys living below the Mendoza line; hopefully they will all get themselves up above it.  As a member of the Mendoza Line club myself I hope that they all do well and that last night is a harbinger of things to come.  Today my mouth feels a bit better than yesterday though I woke up in some pain.  I plan on seeing tonight’s game with Judy as the Tides hopefully will extend their International League South Division lead over the Durham Bulls by defeating the Knights here again.

Coming back to the Mendoza Line itself the way that guys like Mendoza make their mark is by the intangibles that they bring to the game.  Some of the “Mendoza’s” went on in other ways to make a difference in the game through coaching, managing, scouting at the Major or Minor League level, as well as in sports media, announcing or writing.  Some would include guys like Tony LaRussa career .199 average in 10 seasons, Charlie Manuel .198 in 6 seasons, Bob Uecker career .200 in 6 Major League seasons, Sparky Anderson who hit .218 in one season in the Majors and once said “I led the league in “Go get ’em next time.” Tommy Lasorda was a pitcher and had a 0-4 record and 6.48 ERA in three major league seasons as well as Earl Weaver who never made it to the Majors.  All made lasting marks on the game and all were way below the Mendoza line.

The application to baseball players and non-ball players alike when you find yourself at the Mendoza Line is to make the most out of what you have.  Play to your strengths and know that if you do this you will make a mark, even if it is not at the plate.  I figure as a somewhat well trained and experienced theologian, historian, military officer and Priest that the Deity Herself understands bad days, and lackluster careers and still helps us get through life.  So anyway, as a Mendoza Line alumnus I say to all those hovering around the line, find a way to make your mark and do well, I’m cheering for you as are all the other Mendoza’s among the Saints in Heaven.

Peace, Steve+

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