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UNBELIEVABLE! Braves and Red Sox Collapse Complete! Rays and Cardinals win Wild Cards, Orioles sink Red Sox with 2 Outs in Bottom of the 9th as Longoria hits walk off against Yankees

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon reacts to the Orioles scoring the winning run (Getty Images)

What an amazing and unlikely end to the regular season. The Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox who appeared to have their respective Wild Card berths cinched on September 1st had their seasons end tonight in the most unexpected and unlikely ways.  Both the Braves and the Sox had what seemed to be insurmountable leads as August drew to a close.

“It’s like living out a bad dream. You never expect this to happen to you.” Chipper Jones

Matt Holiday and Chris Carpenter celebrate the Cardinal’s Wild Card win

The Braves were up by 10 ½ games over the Cardinals on August 26th and had an 8 ½ game lead on September 6th and slipped into a tie on Tuesday against a resurgent Cardinals team.  The Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros 7-0 behind a two hit performance by Chris Carpenter earlier in the evening putting all the pressure on the Braves to try to force a one game playoff to decide the Wild Card.  The Braves looked like they would force the playoff and had a 3-2 lead with one out in the top of the 9th against the Phillies.   With one out and their ace closer Craig Kimbrel saw it slip away as Chase Utley hit a sacrifice fly to score pinch runner Pete Orr to tie the game.  The Braves could not score a go ahead run and in the top of the 13th the Phillies put the final nail in the Braves coffin as with 2 outs in the top of the 13th when Hunter Pence singled to score Brian Schneider to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead.  The Braves could not score in the bottom of the 13th completing a most amazing collapse.  Kimbrel said after the game “It was tough to be so close and then have the feeling like it was falling out of your hands, and that’s the feeling I have now.”   One has to feel for Kimbrel and other Braves relievers who have endured a punishing season and faltered down the stretch due to a starting rotation which struggled in their performance and due to injuries to young pitchers Jair Jurgens and Tommy Hansen.

A stunned Braves bench after their loss to the Phillies

For the Braves it was an epic collapse but the Tony LaRussa’s Cardinals after having been written off by every expert managed to catch the Braves and steal the Wild Card berth.

While the National League decision was exciting it paled in comparison to what happened in the American League East on Wednesday night. The Rays appeared to be done early as starter avid Price was hit hard by the Yankees especially by Mark Teixeira who hammed a grand slam home run in the top of the 2nd off Price inning to give the Yankees a 5-0 lead and a solo shot against Price in the top of the 4th. When the Yankees finished their at bat in the top of the 8th they had a 7-0 lead.  It looked like the Rays were done unless the Orioles could come from behind to defeat the Red Sox and force a playoff.  As their fans began to leave Tropicana Field the Rays scored 6 runs in the bottom of the 8th and then tied the game with a two out home run by Dan Johnson in the bottom of the 9th.  The game went into extra innings and as the Rays battled the Yankees an even more remarkable story was developing in Baltimore.

Evan Longoria raises his arms in triumph after his walk off home run against the Yankees (Getty Images)

The Red Sox had led the Orioles for most of the game and had not lost a game all season when leading in the 9th inning.  They were 76-0 in this situation.  A rain delay pushed the game toward themidnight hour and when it resumed the Red Sox seemed to be ready to put the Orioles away.

Robert Andino hits a walk off single to score Nolan Reimold against Jonathan Papelbon

With a 3-2 lead the Sox sent their vaunted closer Jonathan Papelbon into the game. After retiring Adam Jones and Mark Reynolds on strikes Chris Davis doubled and the O’s sent in Kyle Hudson to run for Davis.  Papelbon worked a 2-2 count against Nolan Reimold who hit a ground rule double to scoreHudson.  This brought up Red Sox nemesis Robert Andino who hit a walk off single to score Reimold stunning the Red Sox Nation in an unbelievable finish, but the Red Sox had life if the Yankees could put away the Rays in Tampa, but that hope would be dashed three minutes later.

As the Orioles drove the stake into the heart of the Red Sox Nation Yankees reliever Scott Proctor retired B. J. Upton on strikes.  This brought Evan Longoria to the plate. Longoria had hit a 3 run homer in the Rays 6 run 8th inning and took Proctor’s pitch and hammered it down the left field line where it ended up in the stands.  It was only the second time that a walk off home run put a team into the playoffs, the last was Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard around the world” in 1951.

Orioles celebrate. After a rough season they turned into winners in September and ended the Red Sox playoff hopes

It was an amazing finish that was unimaginable and thrilling to behold.  For the Orioles it was their World Series. They have been dominated by the Red Sox for years and going into September had won just 3 games against the Sox all season.  Then in September the Orioles began to win.  They split 4 games with the Yankees, took 2 of 3 from the Rays, 3 of 4 from the Red Sox at Fenway, 2 of 3 from the Angles and split a four game series against the Tigers.  After the 4 games in Boston the Orioles hosted 3 games against the Red Sox at Camden Yards.  They won the first, lost the second and stunned the Red Sox on Wednesday night.

As the bell tolled midnight on the east coast the unthinkable had happened.  Two epic collapses, two remarkable comebacks and an underdog Orioles team that rose to the occasion to beat the Red Sox 5 of 7 games in September.  No one could have scripted the end to this regular season and one can expect that the playoffs will be equally exciting.

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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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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Paybacks are Hell: Bulls Pound Tides 14-7, Orioles fall to A’s slip to 1 and 10

Troy Patton (0-2) got the Loss

On a warm spring evening in Durham the Durham Bulls bats repaid last Friday’s 12-6 drubbing by the Tides in spades scoring 14 runs on 20 hits and aided by 3 Tides errors.  It seems that the Tides pitchers are either very good or very bad on any given day.  They are either hot or cold and definitely not Lukewarm which at least is one positive as Jesus will not spew them out of his mouth see Revelation 3:16 but I theologically digress. The point is that Tides pitching is awesome or atrocious. Last night was a case in point.  Starter Troy Patton was pounded for six runs on six hits including home runs by Joe Dillon and Ryan Shealy and a walk in the bottom of the first retiring only one batter before being pulled for Armondo Gabino. Gabino settled things down giving up just one run on four hits in 3.2 innings work.  Patton has struggled in his first two starts and one hopes that working with pitching Coach Mike Griffin that he will be able to turn things around.

In the top of the third inning the Tides bats came to life as the Tides scored two runs. Robert Andino reached on an error by Bulls Third Baseman Angel Chavez and was driven in by Joey Gathright’s triple. Gathright would then score on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Salazar.  In the top of the fourth inning Rhyne Hughes extended his hitting streak to eight games with a triple. Josh Bell drove in Hughes with a single to center and would score on a double to left by Robert Andino.  Catcher Steve Lerud doubled in Andino and the Tides were back in the game at 7-5.

In the bottom of the fifth however the Bulls would come back and score two more runs off of reliever Andy Mitchell who since his return to the team has not had the same effectiveness as he had in previous years when he served in the starting rotation. It is possible that the switch to middle relief has throw him out of his comfort zone but I think with a bit of time that he will adjust to that role and be an effective middle reliever.  Right now however Andy is struggling and being hit hard by his opponents.  After getting Dan Johnson to ground out Mitchell gave up back to back doubles to Ryan Shealy and Angel Chavez with Chavez’s hit bringing Shealy home.  Alvin Colina singled to send Chavez to third and Fernando Perez hit into a force out which brought in Chavez.  Mitchell then got out of the inning without further damage.  Rhyne Hughes led off the top of the sixth by reaching on an error by Angel Chavez. He advanced to second on a ground out to first by Josh bell and to third on Robert Andino’s infield single to second.  With runners at the corners Steve Lerud singled to right to drive in Hughes. Joey Gathright struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Bulls hit parade continued in the bottom of the sixth Mitchell struck out Hank Blalock.  The next batter Joe Dillon reached on a throwing error to first by first baseman Brandon Snyder.  Dan Johnson grounded out to Snyder on a play that should have without the error ended the inning to advance Dillon to second. Ryan Shealy singled to drive in Dillon and the score was now 10 to 1.  Mitchell walked Chavez and Colina to load the bases and with the walk to Colina was done.  Manager Gary Allenson brought in Jim Miller into the game with two outs in the inning.  Fernando Perez then bunted Shealy home before Miller retired Elliott Johnson on a grounder to short. The Tides went down in order to reliever Dale Thayer in the top of the seventh and as the Durham crowd stretched their Bulls were up 13-6 over the visiting Tides.

Durham was not done and struck hard again in the bottom of the seventh. Back to back singles by Justin Ruggiano set up Dan Johnson who homered to left over the Blue Monster. The three run shot was his 4th home run of the year. Miller retired the last two batters to end the inning.

Rhyne Hughes extended his hitting streak to 8 games

The Tides went down in order in the top of the eighth and Miller retired the Bulls in the bottom half of the inning.  In the ninth the Bulls brought in Joaquin Benoit to close the game. The Tides attempted a ninth inning rally as Robert Andino hit his first home run in a Tides uniform but could muster nothing more to end the game.

Normally 7 runs would be enough to win a game if the pitching is good.  Last night that was not the case as each Tides pitcher except Gabino were hit hard by the Bulls’ attack. Bulls starter Virgil Vasquez got the win bring his record to 2-0 and Troy Patton dropped to 0-2 for the year.  The Tides had 7 runs on 9 hits in the loss but Durham was simply overpowering scoring 14 runs on 20 hits aided by 3 Tides errors.  Brandon Erbe (0-1) will start Saturday’s game for the Tides and the Bulls have not announced their starter at the time of this post.

On the west coast the Orioles lost their 9th straight game this time falling to the Athletics at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum by a score of 4-2.  Starter Kevin Millwood gave up all four Oakland runs giving up 9 hits in six innings.  On the bright side relievers Will Ohman and Matt Albers shut down the A’s allowing no runs or hits to finish the game. The O’s offense was anemic but Ty Wigginton homered in the fifth to produce both Orioles runs.  The O’s offense was 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and have and last in the league scoring only 10 of 78 runners in scoring position for the season.

The Orioles are looking to end an eight game losing streak in Oakland in which they have been outscored by the A’s 43 to 17.  The losing streak extends back to July 22nd 2007. In today’s match up Jeremy Guthrie (0-2) will face A’s pitcher Justin Duchscherer.

We’ll see what happens today for both the Tides and the Birds.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Win in Durham 6-4

Alfredo Simon (shown at Harbor Park) got his first win for the Tides

The Norfolk Tides began their first road trip of the year in Durham tonight defeat the Bulls 6-4 as I listened to the game on ESPN Radio 94.1 while doing my taxes.  I love listening to a well called game on the radio as I can imagine what is going on and find it more enjoyable than watching on television.  When I was a young I was always mesmerized by the legendary Dodger’s announcer Vin Scully even though his is in the employ of Satan’s Major League franchise. What can I say I’m a Giants fan? Stone me with heavy stones.  Anyway I digress.

Tonight I listened to Tides announcer Bob Socci call the game against the Bulls as on Jackie Robinson Day I waited as is my custom to e-file my Federal Taxes 2 hours before the midnight deadline. The Tides jumped off to an early first inning lead when Bulls starter Jeff Bennett surrendered walks to Joey Gathright and Jeff Salazar on 8 consecutive pitches and was removed from the game with an injury. Brian Baker came in to relieve Bennett and gave up a double to Lou Montanez which scored Gathright and advanced Salazar to third.  Scott Moore singled to Center to drive in Salazar and advance Montanez to third.  Bulls Catcher Alvin Colina allowed a passed ball which scored Montanez and the Tides led 3-0.  Baker the retired Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell to pop out but Baker then allowed a double to left by former Bull Rhyne Hughes doubled to drive in scoring Scott Moore before Baker got Robert Andino to pop out to Second Baseman Joe Dillon. In the bottom half of the first Tides starting pitcher Alfredo Simon allowed two hits but stuck out two before getting ground out to Tides Third Baseman Brandon Snyder.

The Tides went down in order to Baker in the second and Alfredo Simon surrendered a single to Angel Chavez before getting Chavez on a force play at second.  The Third inning was equally uneventful as in the top of the third Lou Montanez reached first on a base on balls. Scott Moore then flied out to left and Brandon Snyder hit into a 5-4-3 double play to end the Tides at bat.  Durham picked up a run in the third when Elliott Johnson got a bunt single and advanced to second when Rashad Eldridge grounded out to the pitcher Simon. Justin Ruggiano flied out but John reached third on a wild pitch from Simon.  Hank Blalock then picked up an infield single to second scoring Johnson before Joe Dillon popped out to Brandon Snyder at first to end the inning.

Rhyne Hughes doubled with one out in the fourth but the Tides failed to bring him home as Robert Andino flied to left and Adam Donachie struck out swinging.  Durham picked up a second run when Dan Johnson homered to right.  Simon would get the next three Bulls in order to end the inning.

The Tides threatened in the top of the fifth. Joey Gathright walked; Jeff Salazar struck out swinging which brought about a pitching change for the Bulls. Richard De Los Santos relieved Baker and got Lou Montanez to0 ground out to short but Gathright advanced to second. He would reach third when De Los Santos threw a wild pitch; however Gathright would advance no further as Scott Moore struck out swinging.  The Bulls did nothing in the bottom of the fifth; Simon gave up a walk to Justin Ruggiano but nothing else.  The Tides added to their lead in the top of the sixth.  Brandon Snyder got a leadoff single but it looked like De Los Santos was going to get out of the inning when he got Josh Bell to line out to center and Rhyne Hughes to ground out advancing Snyder to second.  Robert Andino then tripled to drive in Hughes and was driven home on an Adam Donachie single to left.  Joey Gathright singled to third but Donachie allowed himself to get caught between second and third and was tagged out by Shortstop Angel Chavez. Simon put the Bulls down in order in the bottom of the sixth.

The Tides went quietly in the seventh although Scott Moore reached first on a walk allowed by De Los Santos.  Chris George then came into the game for the Tides. The Bulls left two on base in the bottom of the seventh on a Tides error and a base on balls. Both the Tides and the Bulls went down in order in the eighth inning.

The Tides threatened in the top of the ninth. Adam Donachie walked to start the inning and moved to second when Joey Gathright grounded out to catcher Adam Colina.  Jeff Salazar collected a single to right which sent Donachie to third.  Durham then brought Heath Rollins into the game and after Salazar stole second Rollins got Lou Montanez to ground out with Joe Dillon holding Donachie at third.  Scott Moore went down swinging to end the inning ending the Tides threat.  The call was a check swing which third base umpire Manny Gonzalez said that Moore had gone around on. Scott said something to Gonzales most likely questioning Gonzalez’s parentage or something that he does in the privacy of his bedroom and was ejected from the game.

The Bulls made interesting in the bottom of the ninth.  The Tides brought in Frank Mata to close the game and Jonathan Tucker came in for the ejected Moore at second.  Chris Richard led off the inning getting on when Tucker committed a fielding error. Mata then got Angel Chavez to fly out to left and Alvin Colina to ground out to third with Richard advancing to second.  Elliott Johnson singled to right sending Chavez to third and then stole second.  Rashad Eldridge walked to load the bases and Justin Ruggiano singled to drive in Chavez.  With the bases still loaded and the Bulls down by three Tides closer Alberto Castillo relieved Mata.  Hank Blalock singled to left scoring Johnson however with the home crowd cheering Joe Dillon flied out deep to left when Lou Montanez caught the ball at the foot of Durham’s 32 foot “Blue Monster.”

The Tides had 6 runs on 9 hits with 2 errors and the Bulls 4 runs on 9 hits and no errors.  Alfredo Simon got his first win of the 2010 season and Jeff Bennett lost his second.   Alberto Castillo got his second save of the season.  Rhyne Hughes led the attack for the Tides with 2 doubles and an RBI his 7th of the season. The teams will meet tomorrow with Troy Patton scheduled to pitch for the Tides. As of now the Bulls pitcher is not announced.  With the win the Tides improve to 4-4 evening their record.  Tomorrow I am on duty at the medical center so I probably will not get much of a chance to listen to the Tides but do expect to file some report on the game.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Win 6-4 in Friday Night Battle with the Bulls, Arrieta, Montanez and Castillo Shine

Jake Arrieta pitched 5 scoreless innings

After losing their opener 5-3 on Thursday night the Tides came back to defeat the Bulls at Harbor Park on a cool and crisp early April evening by a score of 6-4.

Tides starter Jake Arrieta pitched 5 scoreless innings giving up only 2 hits and striking out 2 to set the pace for the Tides who jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Bull’s starter Heath Phillips who had to be one of the most frustrated players at the park last night. In the bottom of the fourth Phillips gave up a single to Lou Montanez who took second on a balk to Brandon Snyder.  Montanez then took third on a wild pitch and scored when Snyder grounded out to short.  In the 5th Phillips ran into trouble. With one out Tides catcher Adam Donachie doubled and advanced to third when Jonathan Tucker grounded out to second. With two out Phillips walked Joey Gathright and Justin Turner to load the bases.  Phillips then walked Lou Montanez to score Donachie.  Phillips was pulled for Heath Rollins who gave up a walk to Brandon Snyder to score Gathright before getting Josh Bell to ground out to end the inning.

Lou Montanez after beating the run down

In the top of the 6th Jim Miller came into the game for the Tides. Miller who has spent most of his career as a closer is now working middle relief for the Tides a role that he began last year.  After striking out Bull’s Matt Joyce and Justin Ruggiano who then was ejected by umpire Fran Burke for saying something inappropriate on his way back to the dugout, I imagine that he was questioning Burke’s parentage, sexual preference or some other behavior and not the call and when tossed came back and gave Burke a piece of his mind.

Justin Ruggiano loses his arguement with umpire Fran Burke

Miller then faced Dan Johnson and with 2 strikes on Johnson gave up a monster home run that hit the back of the right field party deck awning before quite possibly heading into the Elizabeth River.  That shook Miller who seemed to lose confidence and control walking Joe Dillon before giving up a double to deep left center to Ryan Shealy which scored Dillon from first. Miller then got Angel Chavez to ground out to end the inning. The Tides went down in order in the bottom of the 6th.

In the 7th Miller came back out gave up a walk but then got Elliott Johnson to line out into a double play when Alvin Colina got caught too far off of first.  Miller then gave up a base hit to Rashad Eldridge and was replaced by Frank Mata.  Eldridge stole second and was driven in on a single to center by Matt Joyce.  Joyce then stole second off of Mata who then walked Chris Richard and gave up a single to Dan Johnson to score Joyce before retiring the side.

Jim Miller gets Ruggiano on a called third strike

The Tides did not wait long to come back.  The hitting which had not gone well in the first part of the game took off with two outs the bottom of the 7th.  Justin Turner singled and Lou Montanez tripled deep to center field driving in Turner. As Montanez came into third the throw got away and Montanez started down the third base line after hesitating for a moment.  He was then caught in a run down and avoided a tag by catcher Alvin Colina and scored easily when as no one covered the plate for the Bulls.  In the top of the 8th Mata took the Bulls down in order. In the bottom of the 8th Adam Donachie singled to drive in Scott more for an insurance run.

Castillo ties up and strikes out Chris Richard

Alberto Castillo came in to close the game for the Tides.  He gave up a leadoff double to Elliott Johnson but then struck out the side on a combination of 94 mile an hour fastballs and some good off speed pitching leaving Johnson to die at second.  In the win Lou Montanez led the offense going 3 for 3 and a walk scoring twice and driving in two.  Arrieta and Castillo showed excellent stuff and Mata got the win after having a rough outing in the top of the 7th. The win evened the series 1-1 and the teams play Saturday night with Alfredo Simon making his Norfolk 2010 debut against the Bull’s David Bennett.

Castillo on his way to striking out the side for his first save of 2010

At the Major League level the Orioles new closer Mike Gonzales lost his second time in 3 outings lowing a 9th in inning lead for the second time and the Orioles lost to the Jays 7-6.  Out on the West Coast the Giants downed the Braves 5-4 in 13 innings and the A’s clipped the Angels 10-4 in Anaheim.

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