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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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Durham Clinches IL South for 5th Straight Year: Tides Lose 8-6 Thursday & 3-1 Friday

Robert Andino hit his 13th home run in the bottom of the 8th on Thursday in the Tides 8-6 loss to the Bulls

The champagne was flowing in visitor’s clubhouse as the Durham Bulls clinched their 5th straight International League South Division title at Harbor Park. The Bulls who currently are 32 games above 500 have the best record in the League and 14 ½ games up on the second place team the Gwinnett Braves defeated the Norfolk Tides by scores of 8-6 on Thursday and 3-1 on Friday.

Troy Patton had a no-decision in Thursday’s game

The Tides did not make the Bulls final steps to the title easy giving them a run for their money both nights. On Thursday Troy Patton got the start for the Tides pitched well for 4 innings before running into trouble in the 5th inning.  He gave up a run in the 4th and 2 in the 5th before being relieved by Pat Egan with 1 out in the top of the 5th inning.  He left the game with the lead as the Tides has scored 3 runs in the 1st and another in the 2nd to take an early 4-0 lead off Durham starter Darin Downs who was making a spot start for the Bulls.

In the 7th inning the Bulls tied the game.  Egan gave up two singles with one out and was relieved by Frank Mata. Elliott Johnson hit what could have been a double play producing ground ball to Shortstop Robert Andino but Andino misplayed the ball and was slow to get back to the ball.  It was almost as if he forgot that the runner on second was there which allowed that runner, the speedy Desmond Jennings to score the tying run.

In the 8th inning when Mata gave up a leadoff home run to Leslie Anderson and then proceeded to load the bases before walking J.J. Furmaniak to score Angel Chavez.  He was relieved by Cla Meredith who got the second out before Justin Ruggiano hit a grounder with eyes that got through to left for a single to score Omar Luna and Desmond Jennings. He then retired Rocco Baldelli to end the inning with the Bulls now leading 8-4.

The Tides scored two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning on a two run home run by Robert Andino, his 13th of the year.  Nolan Reimold doubled but was left stranded at second when Scott Moore flied out to right.  Meredith held the Bulls in the 9th inning but the Tides went down in order in the bottom half of the inning thanks to a game ending double play.

The Bulls had 8 runs on 14 hits and committed 2 errors stranding 10 runners and the Tides 6 runs on 14 hits and one costly error by Andino.  The Tides left 11 men on base.  Dale Thayer (3-1 3.40 ERA) the Bulls’ third pitcher of the night got the win and Frank Mata (3-3 4.02 ERA) got a blown save and the loss for the Tides while Winston Abreu got his 19th save of the year.

Desmond Jennings is hit by a pitch from Zach Britton in the 5th inning

On Friday it was a pitchers’ duel as Zach Britton faced off against Ramon Ortiz.  Britton gave up a run in the 1st inning on a single to Chris Richard and a double to Rocco Baldelli and that would be the last run that the Bulls scored until the 7th as Zach allowed just one more hit during the evening. The Tides scored a run in the bottom of the 3rd loading the bases on a walk to Adam Donachie, an infield hit by Paco Figueroa and a walk to Matt Angle. Unfortunately the three of the Tides most productive RBI men, Robert Andino, Jeff Salazar and Nolan Reimold were retired and the Tides scored the one run when Donachie scored on a ground out by Salazar.

Zach Britton gave up only 3 hits but got the loss on Friday

Neither side mustered anything until the 7th inning. Britton retired the first batter that he faced, Dioner Navarro on a ground ball to second. He then walked J.J. Furmaniak and Angel Chavez and was relieved by Jim Hoey. Hoey who has been very good for the Tides since coming up from double-A Bowie appeared to have things under control. However, with the runners now on 2nd and 3rd he issued a wild pitch with Desmond Jennings at the plate.  This allowed Furmaniak to score before Hoey struck out Jennings to end the inning.  In the bottom half of the 8th Nolan Reimold singled and Brandon Snyder walked by Joe Bateman struck out Scott Moore and Lou Montanez to end the threat. In the 9th the Tides brought out closer Dennis Sarfate who gave up an uncharacteristic home run to leadoff hitter Rocco Baldelli before retiring the rest of the Bulls in order. In the 9th it looked like the Tides might come back. With 1 out Paco Figueroa singled and Matt Angle hit a sinking fly ball which looked to be a sure hit possibly one that could get by left fielder Justin Ruggiano but the ball hung up just long enough for Ruggiano to make the play charging in hard from left and throwing to first to double up Figueroa who like most everyone in attendance thought the ball was in for a hit.

The Bulls had 3 runs on 4 hits and an error and the Tides 1 run on 7 hits with no errors. Jake McGee (1-0 0.00 ERA) got the win for the Bulls and Britton (2-3 3.08 ERA) the loss for the Tides.  It was a hard loss as the Tides Britton pitched very well and even the Tides relievers with the exception of the wild pitch by Hoey and the home run allowed by Sarfate pitched well.  The Bulls clinched their 5th straight IL South Title with a record of 79 wins and 47 losses, not only best in the division and best in the League but the best in between the IL and the Pacific Coast League.  They have a .285 team batting average, second best in the IL and the best team ERA (3.45) in the league.  The Tampa Bay Rays, the parent club of the Bulls has one of the premier organizations in baseball. They draft well, develop players well and produce at competitive teams and they build their winning teams without spending huge amounts of money, developing primarily from their own ranks.

Tonight the Tides send Chris Tillman (10-7 3.51 ERA) up against Brian Baker (7-4 3.61 ERA) in game three of this elongated 5 game series.  In personnel news veteran pitcher Andy Mitchell was reactivated by the Tides.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Tides Double Up Braves 4-2 Split Series and Return Home Thursday

Robert Andino drove in his 70th run of the season in the 4-2 victory

After giving away Monday’s game to the Gwinnett Braves the Norfolk Tides were spoiling for a win on Tuesday and got it.  The Tides were aided by 5 errors committed by the G-Braves in the game.  Matt Angle led off the 1st inning with fly ball to right fielder Brent Clevlen which should have been caught for the first out of the game, however Clevlen misplayed the ball and Angle went to third on the error. Robert Andino immediately made the Braves pay for this error taking the first pitch from Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami to center field scoring Angle and giving the Tides a 1-0 lead.  This was Andino’s 70th RBI of the season, 4th in the International League. The Tides struck again in the 2nd inning when Lou Montanez leading off the inning took Kawakami to a 3-2 count and smashed a home run over the left field wall.

Tides pitchers made that lead stand up until the bottom of the 7th. Mike Hinckley just off the DL pitched 3.2 innings in his first start since he was at double-A Harrisburg.  He gave up a hit and two walks and struck out two in his starting debut with the Tides. He was followed by Cla Meredith who made one of his best appearances of the year pitched two hitless innings walking just one leaving with two outs in the 6th. Alberto Castillo got the final out of the inning and yielded to Kam Mickolio in the 7th.  Mickolio not long off the DL himself gave up singles to Barbaro Canizares, Willie Cabrera and Brent Clevlen with Clevlen’s hit scoring Canizares.  Joe Thurston laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners bringing Luis Bolivar to the plate and Bolivar grounded out to score Cabrera. Mickolio then got J.C. Boscan to ground out to Robert Andino to tie the game at 2-2.

The 8th inning started out inauspiciously for the Tides with quick as Matt Angle and Robert Andino both went down on strikes by reliever Stephen Marek.  However with 2 outs the Tides got another chance when Marek misplayed a ground ball allowing Jeff Salazar to get to first.  Marek then walked Nolan Reimold to send Salazar to second base. Marek’s problems were compounded when catcher J. C. Boscan attempting a pick off of Montanez at 2nd base threw the ball away allowing Montanez to take third. Scott Moore then doubled to score Salazar and Reimold to give the Tides a 4-2 lead.

Mike Hinckley made his first start in a Tides uniform

Dennis Sarfate entered the game in the 8th for a 2 inning save attempt and Dennis was sharp setting the Braves down in order in the 8th and 9th innings striking out two in the process to give the Tides the win.

Dennis Sarfate notched his 16th save with 2 innings flawless relief

Kam Mickolio (3-2 6.84 ERA) got the win and Dennis Sarfate picked up his 16th save and Stephan Marek (1-1 1.26 ERA) got the loss. The Tides had 4 runs on 5 hits with no errors leaving 6 stranded and the Braves had 2 runs on 5 hits with 5 errors leaving 6 men on base.  Wednesday was an off day for the Tides who begin a 5 game series against division and league leading Durham Thursday the 19th.

Rain could be in the forecast so bring your umbrella if you come and join me at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Tides Defeat Pawsox 5-2 on Tillman’s Pitching and the Long Ball

Chris Tillman pitched seven shut out innings to get the win

After losing the opening game of their series against the Pawtucket Red Sox the Norfolk Tides dominated the Boston Red Sox AAA affiliate on a beautiful Wednesday night.  Baltimore Orioles General Manager Andy McPhail and 3872 of his closest friends, except the Pawsox fans enjoyed the moderate temperatures and light winds which made the night a beautiful night for a ball game.  Tonight it was Chris Tillman (4-4 3.31) who shut down the Pawsox for seven innings allowing no runs and only three hits striking out 4 and walking only 2.  Tillman was followed by Pedro Viola in the 8th inning and Viola made things a bit sporty for the Tides allowing a run on two hits before retiring the side.  Denis Sarfate entered in the 9th inning and after retiring Aaron Bates walked Dusty Brown and then gave up a single to Lars Anderson who with a name like that needs to be on the Norwegian Biathlon Team.  After a visit to the mount by manager Gary Allenson Sarfate walked Tug Hulett to load the bases with one out.  Allenson then took Sarfate out for closer Frank Mata (0-0 1.96) who got Bubba Bell to ground out to first which allowed Brown to score and then struck out Ryan Khoury to end the game and notch his 8th save of the year.

Adam Donachie Singles and Justin Turner Drives him in

And They Come across the plate


Tonight the Tides hitters finally started hitting the long ball and it began with Scott Moore who crushed a 2-0 pitch over the right field wall which drove in Nolan Reimold who had walked.  In the 3rd inning Adam Donachie singled and Justin Turner blasted a one out shot over the left field wall bouncing the ball off a picnic table in the left field picnic area to score two more runs for the Tides extending their lead to 4-0.  That score would remain until the 6th inning when Scott Moore did not leave us waiting from more but smashed a two out 2-0 pitch from Sox starter Michael Bowden which left the ballpark completely passing over the bullpen in the direction of the East Fork of the Elizabeth River. Good thing there were no boats passing by or we might have needed a rescue team.  That ended the scoring for the Tides and though the Pawsox attempted a comeback they fell short.

Scott Moore crosses home plate after his second home run of the night

The Tides had 5 runs on 7 hits and an error leaving two men on base. The Sox had 2 runs on 6 hits and no errors leaving 7 runners on base.  On Thursday the Tides and the Sox meet again at Harbor Park with Tides ace Jake Arietta (3-2 2.20) going up against Fabio Castro (2-2 6.56).   Hopefully the Tides will take advantage of the momentum generated tonight and transfer it into solid pitching and hitting on Thursday night at Harbor Park. The weather should be excellent to see a game so see you there.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Chiefs Blank Tides 4-0 with Combined Two-Hitter as Strasburg Shines

Stephen Strasburg pitched no-hit ball for 6 innings against the Tides (AP Photo)

The Norfolk Tides and the Syracuse Chiefs met in the third game of a four game series on Wednesday night and the story was pitching, in particular the pitching of Stephen Strasburg.  The high sought rookie and MLB number one draft pick made his second AAA appearance for the Syracuse Chiefs as he is prepared by the Nationals organization for his Major League debut and it was a beauty.  Strasburg owned the Tides tonight and went six innings surrendering no runs and no hits, striking out seven and walking just one leaving Norfolk Tides batters wondering just what train hit them.

Strasburg also had a little help from his friends at the plate and in the bullpen. The Chiefs scored four runs in the bottom of the 5th inning and that would be more than enough to roll back the Tides on this cool, cloudy and windy night in front of 6720 fans at Alliance Bank Field on the west side of downtown Syracuse near Lake Onondaga.    Drew Storen came on in the 7th inning and pitched and and a third innings giving up a single and two walks.  Ron Villone came in with one out in the top of the 8th inning giving up just a hit and a walk.

The Tides started Troy Patton and with two outs in the 5th inning his game came apart.  After getting Pedro Lopez to hit into a 4-6-3 double play Patton walked Justin Maxwell. Former Tides outfielder Chase Lambin singled bringing up Kevin Mench who singled to left to score Maxwell and send Lambin to third.  Troy then Mike Morse walked on 4 pitches to load the bases.  Josh Whitesell took the count to 3 and 1 and then tripled to clear the bases.  Patton then retired Seth Bynum on a called third strike to end the inning.  Denis Sarfate and Alberto Castillo pitched the final two innings for the Tides allowing no runs on no hits and only a walk surrendered by Sarfate.

The final was the Tides 0 runs on 2 hits and 1 error with 4 men left on base.  The Chiefs had 4 runs on 6 hits and 1 error with 7 left on base.  Patton (2-4 5.65) got the loss and Strasburg (2-0 0.00) the win.  The teams play again to close out the series before most of our lunch breaks beginning at 1030 AM at Alliance Bank Field.  Brandon Erbe (0-6 7.20) gets the start for the Tides and will face Andrew Kown (1-2 2.79) who will take the hill for the Chiefs.

Corey Patterson was promoted the the Orioles and singled and scored a run in his fist game with the O’s

There was a personnel move involving the Orioles and the Tides.  Second Baseman Paco Figueroa was assigned to the Tides from AA Bowie while Corey Patterson who in his brief time with the Tides earned a place back on a major league roster was promoted to Baltimore and Nolan Reimold who has struggled battling a nagging heel injury that occurred in 2009 that has limited his play and effectiveness was optioned to the Tides.

Alfredo Simon got his 4th save as the Baltimore Closer after serving in a starting role at Norfolk

Meanwhile in Baltimore it was a night for former Tides pitchers. Brad Bergeson after coming back to the O’s from a brief stint with the Tides picked up his third victory in as many starts and Alfredo Simon got his fourth save.  Corey Patterson singled and scored a run in his Orioles debut. The Orioles defeated the Mariners at Camden Yards by a score of 5-2.

Until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Tides fall to Braves 8-3 Erbe gets Third Loss

Jeff Salazar seen on Tuesday hit his second home run in as many days

After winning convincingly on Wednesday night the Norfolk Tides could not repeat and fell to the Gwinnett Braves 8-3 on a sunny spring afternoon at Harbor Park in front of 4375 fans.  While fog enshrouded the home of the Tides in the morning it had dissipated by game time to reveal a beautiful day for a baseball game. I personally don’t give a kilo of Limburger cheese if the rest of the country is focused on the NFL Draft tonight as I prefer Gordon Biersch draft beer, preferably Czech Pilsner and the Church of Baseball to football in general.  However I also enjoy the seasonal so long as it is not a Weizen and my mind and heart still believe the baseball is the true love of the Deity Herself and that she finds football in all forms only a mildly interesting metaphor for the Valley of Megiddo, but I digress.

After a convincing win on Wednesday night Tides starter Brandon Erbe (0-3 7.98) gave three runs in the top of the first inning on three hits and two more in the fourth on three hits.  All told Erbe gave up 5 runs on 7 hits however he gave up two home runs to Tides killer Freddie Freeman who hit his third home run of this series and doubles to Gregor Blanco, Mitch Jones and Jean Boscan.  The Braves would score 3 runs off of reliever Andy Mitchell before Jim Miller stood into his closer role in the bottom of the eighth giving up one hit and no runs.

Brandon Erbe continues to struggle

The Tides did have some hitting; Jeff Salazar hit a two run shot in the bottom of the third driving in Joey Gathright.  Rhyne Hughes hit a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the fourth.  The Tides would muster no more runs although Joey Gathright would double in the fifth.  The Braves had 8 runs on 13 hits with no errors and the Tides 3 runs on 8 hits with two errors one of which a throwing error by Second Baseman Blake Davis resulted in a Braves run.

Brandon Erbe took the loss, his third of the young season and one has to wonder if it is a matter of confidence or mechanics that is the root cause of his lack of success. I would lean toward being uncomfortable in his first start and then lost his confidence and has not regained it. Andy Mitchell gave up one earned run on 3 hits in two innings of relief work and Jim Miller reprising his closer role from the first half of 2009 where he made the International League All-Star team allowed no runs on one hit.

With the loss the Tides fall to 5 wins and 10 losses falling 7 games behind the Durham Bulls who appear to a be the league Leviathan who are 12-3 and have scored 98 runs on 155 hits devastating many of their opponents with lopsided double digit wins.  Their pitching has been equally dominating allowing the fewest hits and the second best ERA in the League.  With the Tampa Bay Rays looking good and appearing deep the Bulls could well be on their way to repeating their 2009 AAA Championship and lead their nearest division competitor the Charlotte Knights by five games.

International League Southern Division April 22nd 2010

TEAM         W      L      PCT       GB

Durham     12      3     .800         –

Charlotte    7       8     .467     5.0

Gwinnett    6       9    .400      6.0

Norfolk       5     10   .333       7.0

Unfortunately I had to work and had to catch snippets of the game between meetings and patient visits on MiLB Game Day.  The Tides will travel to Charlotte for a four game set against the Knights beginning Friday night which kicks off an eight game road trip which will also take them to Gwinnett. Chris Tillman (0-3 8.38) will try for his first win of the year going up against Charlotte’s Lucas Harrell (1-1 5.82) who defeated the Tides on the 13th allowing no runs and five hits in six innings work.

The Tides have added Left Handed Pitcher Pedro Viola who the Orioles picked up off waivers from Cincinnati.  Viola provides a badly needed left handed arm for the Tides bullpen and will be on the Orioles 40 man roster.  With Alberto Castillo and Kam Mickolio called to Baltimore and Dennis Sarfate on the DL the Tides bullpen has lost some of its power pitchers and the Tides have but two left handed pitchers on their roster.

The Tides for better or worse are inexorably bound to the fortunes of their parent club the Baltimore Orioles who have taken some major losses to injuries and are struggling.  While I believe that they will recover for the time being they have been forced to call upon the Tides incredibly early in the season for position players as well as pitchers, something that was not expected.  will return to Harbor Park on May 1st to face the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Tides Bats Come Back to Life: Tides Crush Knights 9-0

Jake Arrieta Got his First Win of 2010

Well sports fans I was not able to make the afternoon game at Harbor Park this afternoon a little thing called work got in the way, however between counseling young sailors I was able to listen to the game in the internet and thus still kept my finger to the pulse of the Tides.  Speaking of the “pulse” the Tides bats which were dead on arrival last night came back to life as if resurrected by the Lord himself.  Part of this may have been due to the weather which was a bit more temperate and a whole lot less wet than last night proving once again if you don’t like the weather in Hampton Roads wait five minutes.

Tides starter and Orioles hot prospect Jake Arrieta pitched seven innings shutting down the Knights allowing only 3 hits while striking out five.  Knight’s starter, International League MVP and White Sox prospect Carlos Torres who had shut down the Gwinnett Braves last week in his first start of 2010 allowed 4 runs on 6 hits giving up 3 walks taking the loss in front of 3002 fans and one that was not in the ball park.  Guess who?

The game was a study in contrast compared with the last two games against the Knights.  Today the Tides could do nothing wrong and the Knights; well their day was very dark, much like the Tides outing last night only this happened in broad daylight.  The Knights only got 4 hits and were held to no runs by Arrieta and Ross Wolf and had their usually solid Shortstop Brent Lillibridge make two errors on the way to the loss and the Knights left 6 runners on base.  I guess that their prayers to Jobu didn’t get answered.

The Tides barrage began in the bottom of the second inning when Rhyne Hughes singled to right and Michael Aubrey doubled to right.  If this had happened last night they would have died on the bases but not today.  Robert Andino singled to break his hitless streak and drove in Hughes to give the Tides their first lead in three games.  Adam Donachie hit a sacrifice fly to right which scored Michael Aubrey and the Tides were up 2-0.  Joey Gathright walked and then Jonathan Tucker flied to center advancing Andino to third.  Jeff Salazar singled to center scoring Andino and advancing Gathright to second.  Scott Moore kept up his solid hitting singling on a soft line drive to left scoring Gathright.  Salazar was out at home trying to score to end the inning.

The third through the bottom of the 7th inning were uneventful for both teams with Arrieta continuing to take down Knights batters although the Tides left 2 runners on base in the bottom of the sixth. Wes Whisler replaced Torres for the Knights in the top of the sixth.  In the bottom of the 7th the Tides started took advantage of Whisler surrendering two walks to Jonathan Tucker and Brandon Snyder bringing Rhyne Hughes.  Hughes has hit well for the Tides and today crushed a drive over the right field fence for a three run home run making the Tides lead 7-0.

In the 8th the Tides brought in Dennis Sarfate to relieve Arrieta and following his last warm up pitch he came out of the game with an apparent injury to his side. No details have been released on the Tides website or Facebook page so we will have to wait and see what the injury is and hope that it does not stop him as he has pitched magnificently in his first two relief appearances.  Ross Wolf then came in to relieve Sarfate. Wolf gave up a single but no runs and the Tides returned in the bottom of the 8th to continue their drubbing of the Knights.  Charlotte closer Ryan Braun came in to relieve Whisler and found no success. Robert Andino reached on Lillibridge’s second error of the game going to second on an errant throw to first.  Adam Donachie was out on a fly ball to Jordan Danks in center and both Joey Gathright and Jonathan Tucker walked to load the bases.  Jeff Salazar then walked to bring Andino across the plate and Scott Moore hit a sacrifice fly to center which scored Gathright.  The inning ended when Brandon Snyder flied out to Knights Right Fielder Josh Kroeger.

Wolf came out to finish the game in a non-save situation in the top of the 9th inning striking out Stefan Gartrell and Josh Kroeger to start the inning. Dayan Viciedo singled to right to prolong the inning before Brent Lillibridge grounded to Third Baseman Scott Moore who threw to Jonathan Tucker at second to force out Viciedo to end the game.

Arrieta and Wolf pitched one of the best games for the Tides in recent memory combining for the shutout striking out 8 Knights and walking only 2 while scattering 5 hits. Scott Moore, Michael Aubrey and Rhyne Hughes continue to lead the Tides offense with big hits in key situations.

With the victory the Tides put an end to a three game losing streak and brought their record back to 3 wins and 4 losses.  The Tides travel to Durham where tomorrow for a four game series where they will face the Bulls with Alfredo Simon on the hill for the Tides and Jeff Bennett who the Tides kicked around last week on the hill for the Bulls.

On the personnel side of the house Kam Mickolio was promoted to the Orioles to replace closer Mike Gonzales who was placed on the 15 day disabled list by the O’s joining Justin Christian who was promoted when Brian Roberts went on the DL.  The Tides return to Norfolk on Monday for a four game home stand against the Gwinnett Braves.  In Baltimore the Orioles lost their sixth straight game losing to the Rays 9-1 prior to traveling west for a series with the hot Oakland Athletics and the Seattle Mariners.  The O’s are struggling early to find their center.  They have a tremendous amount of talent and one wonders what is going on in the minds of the Orioles coaching staff and management.  My guess is that if Manager Dave Trembley does not right the ship soon that he may be out sooner rather than later because frankly the Orioles are not this bad of a team.

See you at Harbor Park on Monday where the Weather Channel is predicting a high of 66 with clear skies and evening low of 52.  Of course this is Hampton Roads so keep your weather guessing skills sharp as we might have a blizzard or hurricane instead. If you are around section 102 at Harbor Park come up and say “hello” to me.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Tides Crush Bulls 12-3 with a 14 Hit Barrage

Alfredo Simon gets his first Norfolk Start of 2010

On a great night for baseball the Norfolk Tides lit up the night against their nemesis the 2009 Governor’s Cup champion Durham Bulls.  After splitting the first two games in this opening series between the teams the Tides combined outstanding pitching with an offensive display not seen since June of 2009.

Steven Lerud gets out of the way of a David Bennett pitch before walking in the 3rd inning

The Tides attack was led by First Baseman Brandon Snyder who went 2 for 5 and had 3 RBIs two of which came on a 7th inning double and Shortstop Robert Andino who cleared waivers from Baltimore and went 2 for 5 with 3 RBIs.  Left Fielder Lou Montanez drove in 2 as did Right Fielder and former Bull Rhyne Hughes.  Center Fielder Joey Gathright got his first two hits of the season a single and a double and scored two runs.

Chris George got his first win of the 2010 Season

Tides’ pitching was led by newly acquired Alfredo Simon who pitched three innings allowing 3 hits and no runs and was pulled when he reached his pitch count striking out three. Chris George came into the game in relief of Simon in the 4th inning. George gave up 3 runs in 3.2 innings giving up a home run to Chris Richard in the 4th.  He would be relieved by Kam Mickolio in the bottom of the 7th. Mickolio pitched one and an third giving up a hit and two walks.  Dennis Sarfate took down the Bulls in order during the 9th.

The Bulls did not fare so well. Starting pitcher David Bennett went six innings giving up 6 runs on 8 hits. He would be relieved in the 7th by Richard De Los Santos who was hammered for 6 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks.

The Tides began their barrage scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the third after Bennett had gotten the first two Tides out. It began with a four pitch walk to catcher Steven Lerud and followed by a “merry-go-round” on the base paths with Joey Gathright, Robert Andino, Lou Montanez, Scott Moore, Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell all getting base hits before Michael Aubrey grounded out to end the inning.

Brandon Snyder doubles in the 7th

Durham would pick up one on Richard’s home run in the 4th, another in the 5th and a final run in the 7th off of George. Not to be outdone the Tides scored one in the bottom of the sixth when Rhyne Hughes grounded into a fielder’s choice to drive in Brandon Snyder off of Bennett.  In the 7th Norfolk picked up two more runs when Joey Gathright doubled off of De Los Santos, Scott Moore was intentionally walked and Brandon Snyder doubled deep to right field driving in both Gathright and Moore before being gunned down at third by Bulls Second Baseman Elliott Johnson on the relay from right.

Kam Mickolio gets Alvin Colina swinging in the 7th

After shutting down Durham in the top of the 8th the Tides run machine began again when Josh Bell led off with a double to right and driven in by a Rhyne Hughes single.  With Hughes on and one out Steven Lerud picked up his second walk and following a strike out to Joey Gathright Robert Andino doubled to score both Hughes and Lerud. De Los Santos threw a wild pitch which advanced Andino to third and then gave up a single to Montanez to drive home Andino while Scott Moore struck out to end the inning.

Dennis Sarfate gets Rashad Eldridge swinging to end the game

Dennis Sarfate came on in the ninth to close the game out in a non-save situation. He got Elliott Johnson to ground out and then struck out both Fernando Perez and Rashad Eldridge.  Sarfate showed no sign of the injury which plagued him in 2008 and 2009 throwing hard with 9 strikes on 13 pitches. Most of his pitches were above 94 miles an hour with one registering 98 on the scoreboard radar. His only off speed pitch was the final pitch of the game where he pulled up with an 82 mile an hour change up which Eldridge missed badly.

Chris George picked up the win and Bennett the loss.  The teams will complete this series on 1:15 PM Sunday at Harbor Park with Brandon Erbe making his Tides debut against Durham’s Virgil Vasquez. The weather is expected to be great with a temperature of 71 at game time and clear skies. See you there.

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September Comes to Harbor Park: A New Month and a New Team

batter upBatter Up: September Comes to Harbor Park

Fans of Triple “A” Baseball teams in the International League and Pacific Coast League understand that the on the 1st of September the Major League Team will expand their roster.  With the roster expansion at the Major League level there is a ripple effect and sometimes even a “sucking sound” as the Triple “A” affiliates have some of their most promising players taken up to the big leagues.

On some teams this process may be a season long process, especially if the Major League team is lacking depth, talent or is suffering from injuries to key players.  However it is the roster expansion in September that changes the Triple “A” team significantly and all at once.  A couple of things happen during this time.  First and the most obvious is that key players are taken up to the Major League franchise.  For some players this may be a repeat trip having been called up for a brief amount of time earlier in the season.  For others it is their introduction to the big leagues and intended to give them Major League experience before going back down to the minors to continue working on their game the following year. For all it will be the opportunity for the Major League club to see them on the field, in the clubhouse and evaluate them to see where or if they have a place on the big club.  The move up does not always mean that the organization will even keep the player; some might be traded or given their outright release.

chris georgeChris George in His Win

Simultaneous to the Major League call up the Triple “A” roster is reinforced by players from Double “A” and occasionally even single “A” farm teams.  Again this is a similar process where players are given the chance to play at a higher level and be evaluated by the staff.  The same dynamics apply as with the Major League team, except that for some players this is their last hurrah, they are being called up to fill a roster position and will be off the team or out of baseball the following year.   In lower levels of Minor League ball the end of the season frequently sees those of marginal ability weeded out to make room for draft picks, college players and other prospects to have a place in the organization.

From my view from Section 102, Row B, Seat 2 at the Church of Baseball Harbor Park Parish the September 1st call-up is the culmination of a season of call-ups and trades which began early and continued right up to the end of August.   The Norfolk Tides inhabit the Parish Church with me and my friends, Elliott the Usher, Barry the Scorekeeper, Chip the Usher, Terri the Usher, Marty the Card Dealer, Kenny the Pretzel Guy aka “Crabmeat,” as well as Ray and Charlie and their crew from the Vietnam Veterans of Virginia who man the Beer stand on the concourse behind home plate and several thousand others depending on which night the services are held.  The Tides are the Triple “A” affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles.

034Robby Hammock Doubles against Charlotte

The past few years the Orioles have been engaged in a rebuilding process which for many has been long and painful and is not yet complete.  They began in the lower “A” level and progressively worked their way up so that their minor league organization is one of the best in baseball at least as far as talent and prospects are concerned.  Some of that talent had filtered up to Baltimore by the beginning of the year but the Orioles were still a very weak team as they entered the season.  By May the team was calling up members of the Tides, Outfielder Nolan Reimold and Catcher Matt Wieters were among the first to go along with pitchers Brad Bergeson, Lance Berken.  Others would follow throughout the year so that even before the call up at least a dozen former members of this year’s Tides team including pitchers David Hernandez, Chris Tillman and Kam Mickalio were up with Baltimore, or who like Oscar Salazar made the Orioles and were traded and are still in the big leagues.  There were others who were traded at the very end of August including Joey Gathright who went to the Red Sox and Freddy Guzman who went to the Yankees.  There were a number of players who had season ending injuries that might have been called up including Justin Christian, Scott Moore and Jolbert Cabrera.  Cabrera’s injury may be a career ender as he turns 37 in December.

scoreSafe!

The players called up on September 1st were pitchers Dennis Safrate, Matt Albers and Alberto Castillo. Outfielder Jeff Fiorentino who is arguably the MVP for the Tides this year was also called up. Unfortunately for Fiorentino the Orioles have a stocked outfield of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones and Nolan Reimold so it unlikely that he will stay up beyond the regular season.  It is expected that the O’s will call up several more players on September 8th following the end of the International League season. There is talk of a couple of pitchers, perhaps Chris Waters and Jim Miller as well a catcher and Second Baseman Justin Turner.

For us in the Church of baseball it meant that we had a season that was very good and really bad. The Tides were probably the best team in Triple “A” at the beginning of the season. By early June they had a large division lead and had close to .700 winning percentage.  With hitting which included power and speed the Tides have had one of the top batting averages in the league all year, even at the end of the season.  Currently they are batting .274 as a team only .001 behind Columbus which is at .275.  The pitching staff was solid but after call ups and injuries mid-season became less effective about the same time the Tides lost most of their power hitters.  This resulted in a All-Star break the team began slump in which the Tides ended up dropping back to 3rd place and a winning percentage of just above .500.

The Tides have 5 games to finish out the season.  The new players are beginning to show some life and the Orioles and Tides management will beginning planning for the 2010 campaign.  Of particular interest to me are catcher Guillermo Rodriguez an excellent defensive catcher with a better bat than we have seen at that position sin a long time with the exception of Matt Wieters and outfielder Jonathan Tucker just up from AA Bowie where he was on the Eastern League All-Star team this year.  He is much like Joey Gathright, a speedy contact hitter with excellent range in the outfield and I expect that Jonathan will be patrolling the outfield for the Tides in 2010.  Recently acquired Rhyne Hughes has added punch to the lineup at First Base hitting home runs in his last two games and I would not be surprised to see the Orioles keep him around.

moon over harbor parkMoon over Harbor Park

September has started better for the Tides and for the first time since August 6th. The win streak has improved the Tides record to 70-68 moving them back to a .507 winning percentage, currently in 3rd place in the IL South. In the three games the Tides have outscored their opponents 21-3 defeating Charlotte 10-0, Gwinnett 8-1 and 3-2.  Andy Mitchell, Chris George and Chris Lambert got the wins in strong performances.  Tides relievers were excellent allowing no runs.  Jim Miller rang up his 17th save tonight having reclaimed his rightful place as the Tides closer.  The two wins over Gwinnett have dropped that former rival from Richmond to 2 games back of Durham for the I South Title with 4 games left to play.

Friday night the Tides will play their last home game of the season at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park parish at 7:15 against these same Braves hoping to put another nail in the Braves Title hopes.

Peace,

Steve+

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Has Anyone Seen a Big Wooden Boat and a Lot of Animals? Floods and Rain Outs in Norfolk

rain at harbor parkFlooding at Harbor Park Wednesday- Norfolk Tides Fan Photo Facebook.com

I have never been a big fan of rain.  Yes I know we need it to live, for plants to grow, birds to sing, fish to drink and all of that.   I also know that rain means water coming from the sky and that water coming from the sky usually means that I end up wet or that the baseball game that I want to see get’s rained out.  If I had been a soldier in World War Two I would have stunk up the works a Guadalcanal or any of the other rain and vermin infested hell holes of the South Pacific.  On the other hand I would have done pretty well in North Africa out in the desert with the Afrika Corps.

Now the Hampton Roads area has two basic seasons, cold and wet and warm and wet.  The operative word is wet. In the cold and wet phase which general lasts through April and even May when you are out in the rain you get soaked to the skin and freeze your ass off.  On the other hand in the summer when it is warm and wet or even hot and wet, and I don’t mean like married couple or significant other kind of hot and wet, but the miserable sticky humid and hot weather that makes you feel like a wet postage stamp on a credit card bill.  Unfortunately we are in this part of the year now in Hampton Roads and though we were graced with an incredibly cool and dry May through July, the steam has been turned back on, I’m sloshing through mud to get my garbage out and having a field day using legal biological agents to kill mosquitoes.

A one who worships at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish, I patently pray to the Deity Herself that no rain will ever cancel a game here, especially now that I am a season ticket holder.  Yesterday it seemed that not only had the Deity not answered my prayers but in fact our adversary the Devil himself seemed to be out to ruin the rest of this short home stand against the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees.  Yesterday not long before the close of business I was readying myself for the jaunt over to Harbor Park for game three in the series.  Just before I was to leave I was talking with my deputy department director when  the heavens opened and unleashed a deluge of which proportions I have not seen since my days at Fort Sam Houston Texas where deluges like this would bring rapid flash flooding inevitably leading people to drive into raging torrents of water that were plainly marked as to how high the water was.  If you have lived in San Antonio you know what I am talking about, I think they have a special segment on hte local news just for such occurrences.

The rain came so hard and fast in Norfolk, Portsmouth as well as parts of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach that flood warnings were issued.   Some places in Norfolk and Portsmouth reported standing water 2-5 feet high after 4-6 inches of rain came down in a relatively short period of time.  Figuring that this deluge had to let up and knowing that the game was already canceled I set out from work for the trip home.  Patently this was the first really bad really bad storm that I have had to commute home from in what seemed to be an event of biblical proportions.  I was beginning to look for a big wooden boat with an old guy looking like John Huston standing at the door beckoning pairs of animals to come in.  What greeted me were roads, including the ground floor of our parking garage flooded.  Trusting the Deity Herself I set out knowing that things would be bad, but not this bad.

There is a reason our area is called “the Tidewater.”  It is simply that it is very low lying, adjacent to the ocean and the word Tidewater is a lot nicer sounding than swamp.  When we get a lot of rain in a short time, there is simply nowhere for it to go.  Low lying areas with which the area abounds flood quickly and low lying intersections and roads with poor drainage become small rivers in which vehicles can become immersed in.  Thankfully I have a good idea where the higher roads are in the area of the hospital and zigged and zagged to avoid deep waters and areas where other drivers were sinking. Only once having to go down a very wide sidewalk to avoid what some rather deep water which I did not feel my 2001 Honda Cr-V could not traverse since it is not amphibious.  I figured that since the sidewalk was as wide as my CR-V and was a good 8-10 inches higher than the flooded intersection that it would do, I drove up and over the curb, drove down my elevated roadway about 100 yards before using a driveway to re-enter the road at a better fording site.  Just before I had left work I had checked the weather and traffic conditions, especially the “Jam Cams” at the Downtown Tunnel.  The cameras showed traffic moving well and only the normal rush hour backlog to get in.  However, by the time I got to the entrance road to the tunnel I saw that it had been closed and traffic divert off of I-264. I decided to pick my way down another main street only to see cars immersed ahead of me.  I made a quick U-turn and headed back to I-264 and headed west away from my house.  I used it to get to I-64 west, which actually is heading east through Chesapeake in order to pick up I-264 to get back to Virginia Beach.  The trip took me about an hour and forty-five minutes.  I understand that some people took 3-4 hours to go less distance than I had traveled.  One amazing thing that I noticed was the lack of accidents on the Interstate highways.  Normally in good weather people around here can’t drive nails much less motor vehicles. Thank the Deity for small favors.

norfolk floodingFlooded Streets in Norfolk- Virginia Pilot Photo

The game was long postponed and Judy and I went to Gordon Biersch and then came home, both exhausted from our day.  It is amazing what nearly two hours on the road fighting downpours and floods will do to you. Today the Tides and Yankees were scheduled for a double header.  Game one had a rain delay but despite this the game was played with the Tides winning 4-2 with solid pitching by Chris Waters, Dennis Safrate, Kam Mickolio and Alberto Castillo.  As Earl Weaver said “Nobody likes to hear it, because it’s dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.”  A bit after 3 PM with the game over and a 40 minute break between games I left work to try to see game two.  Once again I looked at the weather radar and saw a bit of rain coming up from the southwest.  However, it looked like it would not be heavy and pass by quickly.  When I got to the tunnel it started to rain pretty hard but nothing like the other day.  As I got to the stadium parking lot the rain was already beginning to let up.  I got my Tides Dog with Chili and a beer, found Elliott the Usher and Chip the Usher sitting on the concourse and pulled up a seat.  We talked about our travels yesterday; Elliott the Usher had gotten stuck on a bridge because or water at the foot of it which had flooded a viaduct and Chip the Usher had had to turn around due to high water as well.  As we chatted the grounds crew came out and began to remove the tarp from the field and with the skies lightening we all thought that the game was going to be played.  As the crew moved equipment to mark the batter’s box and foul lines into position an Umpire came out of the Yankees dugout and gave some kind of signal.  When that happened the grounds crew began to put back the tarp and about 10 minutes later we were informed that the game had been canceled.  After the game I picked up a signed card of Tides infielder Justin Turner, who had a double and two RBIs in the first game and is the team leader in hits for the Tides.   I also made my next installment on the 1967 signed Willie Mays that he has reserved for me.

This was disappointing to me to have two chances to see the Tides play be rained out on consecutive days.  I decided to question the Deity about this and was once again informed that “the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike.”  With that I shut up, walked back to the car and started home, with almost no rain whatsoever.  The way I understood things was that the field was not deemed safe to play on due to the latest round of rain.  Next week the Tides come back in town after making a road trip to Charlotte.  The Tides moved back into a game and a half of Durham and three and a half of Gwinnett in the IL South.

Peace, Steve+

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