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Spring Training Begins: A’s and Mariners Start Camp Today

That’s the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on a ball.  ~Bill Veeck, 1976

It is still winter but life is beginning to return. Spring training begins today…well early Spring Training for the A’s and Mariners who begin the regular season a week before everyone else in Japan.  Among those competing for a spot on the 25 man or 40 man rosters will be my friend Jim Miller, a relief pitcher who was in the Orioles system and who I know from Norfolk.  Jim has been a AAA All Star with Norfolk of the International League and last year with Colorado’s AAA affiliate Colorado Springs of the Pacific Coast League. I certainly want him to do well and would love to see him work his way into the A’s bullpen as the set-up man or closer.

Say what you want about football and the popularity of the NFL I still love the game of baseball. There is something that is so uniquely American about this game which has found its way into the hearts of so many people around the world in ways that the NFL has not.  I think that part of it is the sheer beauty of the game.  Walt Whitman said in reply to the comment that “Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic!” “That’s beautiful: the hurrah game! well — it’s our game: that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game: has the snap, go fling, of the American atmosphere — belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”

Likewise through peace and war going back before our terrible Civil War baseball has been around.  It is a game that has changed little and it is a game that through the years has been part of the fabric of America, through good times and bad, in times of peace and war, prosperity and depression. We have had some difficult times of late but I think baseball something that can help. Bill “Spaceman” Lee said that “Baseball is the belly-button of our society. Straighten out baseball, and you straighten out the rest of the world.”  

We are at war and other wars threaten around the world. Our political climate is poisonous and though doing better lately the economy still slow and unemployment high.  But we have seen tough times before and have gotten through them, though at the moment things seem pretty bleak.

I love the movie Field of Dreams and one of my favorite segments is when James Earl Jones says:

“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.” 

I believe that still to be the case and though the regular season does not begin for about a month and a half the fact that spring training is beginning is reason to hope.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Norfolk Tides 2010: The Season in Review

“It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone.” A. Bartlett Giamatti

Now that the World Series is over it is time for my annual Norfolk Tides photo essay.  This time of year is kind of sad for me because baseball is over until the Spring and one of my refuges from the storms of life goes away for a time. Baseball has its own liturgical cycle beginning with Spring Training moving to Opening Day, the All-Star Game, the Pennant Race, the Post Season and the World Series.

The season began at Harbor Park with the Home Opener in early April and closed on the Road.  From my vantage point in Section 102 I had the opportunity to watch some great baseball, get some great pictures and become friends with some great people.  These photos chronicle the 2010 season at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish and is dedicated to the players and management of the Norfolk Tides.

Opening Day

Left-hander Troy Patton had a rough start but finished strong and ended up in Baltimore

Adam Donachie with kids from a “Field of Dreams team”

Robert Andino hammers a double down the left field line

Twilight at Harbor Park

Jake Arrieta comes into field a bunt

Strike three! Alberto Castillo strikes out a member of the Toledo Mudhens

Close call…Steve Lerud gets a brush back against the Durham Bulls

Saluting the Negro Leagues

Muddy Warrior: Michel Hernandez during a rainy game. By the way the Tides had no home rain outs in 2010

The Mascot: Rip Tide

Adam Donachie tags a runner out at home

Chris Tillman had a great year with the Tides including a no-hitter against the Gwinnett Braves and a one-hitter

Andy Mitchell’s flowing submarine delivery continued in 2010 although he struggled at times. He was the go-to man in middle relief for much of the season and saved many bullpen arms.

Close play at 2nd

Adam Donachie guns down a runner at second

Jake Arrieta jams Gwinnett’s Joe Thurston

Call to the Bullpen: Chris George picks up the call

Blake Davis slides head first into home

Mike Gonzalez making a rehab appearance with the Tides before going back up to Baltimore

Robert Andino goes high to keep a throw from the plate from going into center field

Paco Figueroa slides into home

Michael Aubrey slams one of his 22 home runs

Blake Davis slides into home

Elliott the Usher give his opinion on a call

Alberto Castillo played the setup man for much of the season

Nolan Reimold hits a home-run during a season marked with by early struggles and steady recovery of his 2009 Rookie season in Baltimore

Joey Gathright dodges a pitch

Brandon Snyder played a solid first base and became a solid hitter as the season went on

Nolan Reimold and Rhyne Hughes wait for a pitching change

General Manager Dave Rosenfield

Steve Lerud makes the throw to first after making the force at at home

Matt Angle gets out of the way of Gwinnett catcher J. C. Boscan

Robert Andino and a member of a “Field of Dreams” team

Nolan Reimold tosses to Paco Figueroa for the out with pitcher Mike Hinckley looking on

Jim Miller was moved from being a 2009 AAA All-star closer to various places in the bullpen

Before the storm

Chris George moved from the bullpen to a starting slot

Rhyne Hughes looks on incredulously after a bad call

Celebrating a walk off win

Jeff Salazar drives a pitch into right field

Regina blows a kiss at the home plate umpire

Josh Bell worked his way up to Baltimore where he took the 3rd base job

Brandon Snyder makes the putout at first

Zach Britton moved up from Bowie mid-season did very well and may be a mid-season call up to Baltimore in 2011

Matt Angle makes the throw in from right field

Safe at home on throwback night

Josh Bell singles past a Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees pitcher

The bullpen waits for the call

Jim Hoey fires a strike

Bobby Dickerson has a few words with an umpire

Chris Chambliss and Gary Allenson meet with the umpiring crew before a game

Call third strike

Come backer a visiting pitcher dodges a line drive

Rhyne Hughes rounds third

And the rain comes down

After the rain: The grounds crew hustles to dry out the field

Jeff Salazar chase down a fly ball

The Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish at night

Brandon Erbe struggled much of the year until an injury put him on the DL for the rest of the season

Brandon Snyder takes a lead at first against Gwinnett

Art the Usher with Cow Ripken  in the background

Robert Andino tags out a member of the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees

Paco Figueroa tagged out trying to crash through an opposing catcher

Marine Night

Jonathan Tucker takes a strike

Jonathan Tucker safe at home

Armando Gabino was a solid spot starter and reliever. He went 7-0 in games that he started

Another shot of Andy Mitchell the Tides winningest pitcher in franchise history. He declared free agency at the end of the season

Nolan Reimold beats out a ground ball at first base

Michael Aubrey and Paco Figueroa shift as an opposing hitter hits a ground ball

An opposing batter swings over a pitch

Dennis Sarfate led the Tides in saves and had an outstanding year, he is now a free agent

Kam Mickolio fires a strike

Harbor Park at dusk

A member of the Charlotte Knights looks on after a called strike

Jeff Salazar greets a runner at home

A season draws to an end

Rip Tide loses again in a race around the bases

Alfredo Simon warms up in the bullpen. Simon went from starter with the Tides to sometimes closer with the Orioles

The season at home comes to an end

Chris Tillman pitches a win against the Detroit Tigers on October 3rd at Camden Yards

And so the season ended and this team will go different ways, many players that I consider friends will move on and others up.  New prospects will come up and some of the team will be back. To my friends and all the 2010 Norfolk Tides have a great off season and my best to you and your families.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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

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

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

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

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

Peace

Padre Steve+

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

Jeff Salazar homers for the Tides

The Monday afternoon businessman’s special “getaway” game between the Durham Bulls and the Norfolk Tides was anything but special as the Tides went down to their 5th consecutive loss falling the Durham Bulls by a score of 8-4.  In the previous 4 games at Harbor Park the Tides were competitive and though they did not win were in each game until the end.  On Monday the wear of the long season, the disappointment in not coming away with wins that very easily could have been theirs and the ambiguity that most of the team faces in regards to their future with the organization showed as the Tides seemed flat and lifeless despite scoring 4 runs on 12 hits.

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

Tides starter Chris George coming back from an elbow injury incurred when a line drive struck him against Indianapolis was not effective throwing 66 pitches in just 2.2 innings giving up 4 runs on 6 hits striking out 4 and walking 2.  With the exception of Dennis Sarfate all of the Tides relievers struggled as the Tides gave up 8 runs on 14 hits and walking 4 while the defense committed two errors.   The 5 pitchers threw a total of 176 pitches an average of almost 20 pitches an inning.  The bullpen will need a strong start by Troy Patton tonight in Durham, or for someone like Andy Mitchell, Mike Hinckley or Jim Miller to provide some effective long relief in order to rest these arms as the rest of the bullpen has thrown a lot of pitches over the past few games.

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

Tides hitters did lay down the hits and Jeff Salazar had a home run and a double, while Robert Andino had a double that drove in his 74th RBI of the year.  However the Tides never score more than one run in any given inning as Durham pitching and defense was solid cutting up rallies before they could mature and score more runs.  Of note were two plays at first base where Bulls First Baseman Leslie Anderson made spectacular stops of sharply hit balls down the line to prevent Michael Aubrey and Scott more from both having extra base hits that would have drove in runs very possibly altering the tempo, character and outcome of the game.

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

The Bulls were opportunistic as is their nature. This is a much disciplined team the best in Triple-A baseball and their hitters seem always to do an excellent job of hitting the ball where the opposition is not. Their “small ball” feeds their power. They get men aboard with bloop hits, Seeing Eye grounders, well placed bunts and balls hit behind runners.  As they chip away at the opposition with this kind of game the Bulls power hitters take advantage of nearly every mistake made by an opposing pitcher and even well pitched balls to drive in runs.  They are seldom out of a game.  It is no wonder that they lead their nearest division rival the Gwinnett Braves by 19 games with a 82 win and 47 loss record.

Jose Lobaton singles

Anuery Rodriguez (6-5 3.72 ERA) got the win and Chris George (5-7 4.45 ERA) took the loss. I do think that from watching Chris that he was still sore from his injury and not comfortable on the mound. The Bulls had 8 runs on 14 hits with no errors stranding 11 runners and the Tides 4 runs on 12 hits with 2 errors leaving 12 men aboard. Tonight Troy Patton (7-10 4.85 ERA) will take the hill in Durham for the Tides facing Richard De Los Santos (13-5 3.59 ERA) will start for the Bulls. De Los Santos is tied for the league lead in wins.

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

A few Tides notes, Robert Andino leaders the league in hits (137) as well as errors (28) and 4th in RBIs with 74.  Michael Aubrey leads the time with 18 home runs in only 91 games and his slugging percentage is now .489 the 11th in the league.  Nolan Reimold who after being injured last year in Baltimore, being sent down to the Tides and having fought through the physical aspects of his injury as well and the mental side of the game has come in strong since the All-Star break and now has a .366 on base percentage and in his last 10 games is hitting .344 with a .548 on base percentage and .406 slugging percentage. He has also become an effective base stealer with 9 steals to his credit only being caught twice in 11 attempts, not bad for a big man who has overcome a serious and nagging injury to his Achilles tendon.

Robert Andino currently leads the IL in hits with 137

An interesting note on the team average, in 2009 the Tides were hit .272 as a team, second best in the league with several players above .300 or in the .280 and above bracket. They only hit 78 home runs during 2009 but had 259 doubles and 30 triples with 603 runs scored.  In 2010 they are hitting as of today .253 (-.19) but have hit 110 home runs (+32).  However they have just 218 doubles (-41) and 23 triples (-7) scoring 566 runs. In 2009 the Tides had 1283 hits as opposed to 1114 (-169) this year and both the slugging and on base percentages are slightly down this year.  Another key statistic is strike outs, last year the Tides had just 814 in the season and 888 already in 2010. They had 132 stolen bases in 176 attempts as opposed to 115 steals in 160 attempts this year. Now this seasons statistics are not final, there is a chance that the Tides will surpass the number of runs scored in 2009 but will fall short in other areas.

I will be talking more about trends in statistics and players comparing this year with 2009 and making my “if I were Andy McPhail” recommendations for the September call up and Tides to hold onto for 2011 over the next couple of weeks.  I will also provide my analysis of how the team did include reason that I think the team did not do as well as I thought that they would this year. I do think that the Tides are better than their record indicates and that many of the Tides have legitimate shots at being regulars in the Major Leagues, be it with the Orioles or other organizations and I will talk about that subject as well in the coming weeks. These will be part of the regular posts and show up on the Norfolk Tides Scouting Report as well.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Lose to Knights 7-3 Friday Win 6-1 Saturday; Rubber Match Sunday

Troy Patton and the Tides had an exercise in futility on Friday

The Norfolk Tides returned to Harbor Park on Friday night to face their International League South rival the Charlotte Knights. It was a tale of two cities on Friday and Saturday as the Tides lost an error filled game in which they were held to just four hits.  However on Saturday Zach Britton pitched 8 innings allowing 5 hits and a run as the Tides pounded out 6 runs on 13 hits including 3 home runs, two by Michael Aubrey who now leaders the team with 17.

On Friday Troy Patton returned to the mound for the first time in nearly two weeks following successive call ups to Baltimore in which he did not pitch and the layoff showed as he struggled at times over the course of a 4 inning performance.  He was not helped in the second inning when he gave up 4 runs only two of which were earned as Jeff Salazar dropped a fly ball that should have been the 3rd out allowing two additional runs to score.  Troy would exit the game after the 4th inning striking out 5 Knights batters in 4 innings work.

Zach Britton pitched 8 strong innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits

The Tides actually got an early lead as in the 1st inning Michael Aubrey had an RBI double to score Jeff Salazar who had walked to lead off the inning.  The Knights scored their 4 runs in the top of the 2nd with 3 consecutive hits that scored two runs followed by the error which allowed the others to score.  In the bottom half of the inning Brandon Snyder led off with a double and scored on a ground out by Paco Figueroa.  The Tides pulled within a run in the bottom of the 4th inning as Knights starting pitcher Carlos Torres walked Brandon Snyder and Scott Moore and then hit Adam Donachie with a pitch before Paco Figueroa grounded in to a force play on which Snyder scored.

Michael Aubrey after his first of 2 home runs tonight

Jim Miller came into the game for the Tides got into trouble in the 5th inning giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases before a double play on a ground ball allowed Jeremy Reed to score.  Miller looked to have things under control with two outs and a runner on third and threw a wild pitch in the dirt which allowed Brent Morel to score.  Pat Egan came in for the 7th and 8th innings and in the 8th gave up an insurance run to the Knights on doubles by Fernando Cortez and Alejandro De Aza. Cla Meredith pitched the 9th inning but the Tides could not muster any more offense and the game ended with the final score 7 to 6 in favor of the Knights.  Patton (7-10 4.79 ERA) got the loss and Carlos Torres (9-7 3.31 ERA) gained the win. The Knights had 7 runs on 10 hits and no errors leaving 10 men on base, the Tides 3 runs on 4 hits with 4 errors with 8 men left on base.

On the 13th the Orioles activated Lou Montanez from the DL and assigned him to Norfolk where he would have an impact on Saturday night.

On Saturday the Tides sent Zach Britton to the hill to face the Knights and pitcher Brandon Hynick in a game that differed much from Friday night.  Britton pitched an outstanding game pitching 8 innings giving up a run on 5 hits striking out 9 Knights and walking 3.  He looked like he was in trouble in the 4th inning he loaded the bases with 1 out but pitched out of trouble when Jeremy Reed grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, Figueroa to Andino who made a tremendous play at 2nd and on to Aubrey to end the inning.   Tyler Flowers walked to lead off the 5th inning and scored on a single by Fernando Cortez producing the only run of the night for the Knights.

Lou Montanez went 3-5 in the win

The Tides offense was productive producing 13 hits to score their 6 runs.  Michael Aubrey crushed a pitch in the 2nd inning from Hynick for a home run putting the Tides on the board with an early lead of 1-0.   Matt Angle led off the 6th inning with his first home run of the year and with 2 outs Nolan Reimold walked and was followed by Scott Moore who singled.  Reimold then scored on a Lou Montanez single one of three hits on the day for Lou.  The Tides scored 3 more runs off of reliever Jon Adkins in the bottom of the 7th inning.  Michael Aubrey led off the inning with his 17th home run and was followed by consecutive singles from Nolan Reimold, Scott Moore and Lou Montanez to load the bases.  Brandon Snyder took a pitch from Adkins to the right field wall where it was caught by Jordan Danks which scored Reimold.  Michel Hernandez then took a pitch to the warning track in right but the sacrifice enabled Moore to score to give the Tides a 6-1 lead.  Jim Hoey came on in the 9th in a non-save situation and dominated the Charlotte batters striking out Dayan Viciedo on a 98 mile per hour fastball, getting Stafan Gartrell to pop up to second baseman Paco Figueroa and stinking out Jeremy Reed swinging to end the game.

Hynick (1-3 6.81 ERA) was charged with the loss while Zach Britton (2-2 3.12 ERA) notched the win. The Knights had 1 run on 5 hits with no errors leaving 4 men on base while the Tides put up 6 runs on 13 hits with no errors leaving 12 men on base.

Sunday the Tides will send Chris Tillman (9-7 3.45 ERA) against Lucas Harrell (10-9 4.43 ERA).  Game time is 6:15 at Harbor Park.

See you there,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Swept by Bats, Orioles continue to win

Michale Aubrey (above) and Brandon Snyder (below) continue to have clutch hits


The Norfolk Tides ebbed out of Louisville Monday morning after having been swept by the red hot Louisville Bats.  They had lost game one on Thursday as they opened the road trip and would drop the final three, all be close margins despite the fact that in each game the Tides starter got knocked around in the early innings bad enough that despite two tremendous comebacks the Tides failed to put anything in the win column.  On Thursday they were shut out by the Bats by a score of 6-0 with Chris George getting the loss.

The next three games were close but the Tides fell short in comeback attempts. On Friday starter Tim Bascom (2-6 7.28 ERA) got the loss and gave up 7 runs on 10 hits in 3.2 innings work and the Tides lost 8-7.  The Tides made it interesting picking up a run in the 5th inning and 6 runs in the 6th but were unable to overtake the Bats.  On Saturday the Tides lost 5-2 with Rick Vanden Hurk giving up 5 runs on 8 hits with the Tides scoring 2 runs in the 7th inning. Vanden Hurk (1-1 2.84 ERA) took the loss.  On Sunday it was another slugfest in which the Tides got out to an early 2-0 lead but saw it melt in a 5 run 5th inning for the Bats against starter Zach Britton.  The Tides would lose by a score of 8-7 when a 9th inning rally fell just short.  Michael Aubrey and Nolan Reimold each had a home run and a double.

The problem for this series was the starting pitching. The four Tides starters gave up 27 (25 earned) runs on 27 hits in a combined 16.2 innings for a 13.88 ERA. Tides relievers on the other hands were very good pitching 15.1 innings allowing 5 runs on 14 hits a 2.98 ERA.  The only reliever that had a bad appearance was Pat Egan who gave up 3 runs on 4 hits in 0.2 innings work in the final game of the series. After Thursday’s shutout the Tides scored 16 runs in the next three games collecting 34 hits.

Jim Miller came back off the Inactive List to provide solid relief work, it’s Miller Time again

This series showed the importance of starting pitching to the Tides. Early in the year Tides starters led by Jake Arietta, Chris Tillman and Alfredo Simon were better than the bullpen much of the time and other starters including Troy Patton and Brandon Erbe often lost games pitching well but getting little in the way of run support.

In Baltimore over the weekend the O’s took 2 of 3 from the White Sox and are playing a close game tied 2-2 in the 9th tonight.  Starting pitching and solid hitting have been the difference since Buck Showalter took over. At the same time Showalter’s arrival coincides with the first time in the season that the Orioles are playing healthy with several positions players including Brian Roberts, Luke Scott and Felix Pie back off of the DL and relievers Mike Gonzalez and Koji Uehara back in the lineup after being on the DL extended lengths of time. .

In personnel matters Troy Patton was sent back down today to make room for Craig Tatum, a move designed to bolster the O’s bench and Adam Donachie was brought back up from double A Bowie to the Tides.

Both the Tides and Orioles continue to play tonight and I will write about those games tomorrow.

Blessings,

Padre Steve+

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Tides shut out by Bats 6-0; Gabino Called up by O’s…O’s Sweep Angels

Armando Gabino pitched his way to the Orioles roster

The Norfolk Tides travelled west to Louisville where they began a four game series with the Louisville Bats at Louisville Slugger Park.   It was not a night top remember as the Tides were shut out by Cincinnati’s AAA affiliate by a score of 6-0.  Chris George started from the Tides and had no trouble in the first inning but the Bats torched Chris in the second for 5 runs.  In that inning Todd Frazier homered to lead of the inning on a 1-1 count from then on it was downhill for George who gave up a total of 5 runs on 7 hits including 2 doubles while facing 9 Louisville batters.    In the 4th inning George walked the bases loaded and was pulled from the game in favor of Jim Miller, just reactivated off of the inactive roster.  Miller gave up a wild pitch which scored a run prior to striking out the final batter.  Miller would pitch 2 innings allowing no runs on 2 hits while striking out 4 batters.  Tides relievers Cla Meredith and Kam Mickolio would also have good nights each allowing no runs or hits and striking out two men apiece but the damage was done.  For Mickolio it was his first appearance since June 11th when he went on the DL for a strained oblique. Tides hitters would scatter 9 hits but plated no one and the game ended with the Tides losing 6-0.

In personnel news the Orioles called up the gem of the Tides pitching staff this year, right hander Armando Gabino.  Gabino was 7-0 with 2 saves and had a 2.18 ERA with the Tides when called up by the O’s yesterday.  Jim Miller was reactivated from the inactive list and Kam Mickolio as noted above came off the DL.

In Baltimore the Orioles under the leadership of new Manager Buck Showalter completed a 3 game sweep of the Angels.  In last night’s game Jake Arietta pitched well enough to win but had the bullpen blow the save.  The Orioles would win 5-4 in on a walk off single but the game should have been won before then. It is funny I have said a long time that what Baltimore needed was leadership. I believe that the Orioles have the raw talent to be competitive with most teams in the league.  After the dismal 2 and 16 start to the season under Dave Trembley never got off the ground and Juan Samuel though liked and respected by the players was serving in an interim role.  I think that players sensed that Trembley was not going to survive and that Samuel was a temp and as a result did not perform as well as they could have, not intentionally, but there is a psychology that affects losing teams that kind of contributes to their losing. It may be because they believe that the manager will make the wrong moves or that something will happen to cause them to lose the game.  Just like the military, baseball players respond to leaders that they not only know and respect, but know who have the ability to lead.  When I was watching the Orioles this week I saw a different team than was on the field just a week ago.  Will the O’s contend this season or even have a winning record? No.  However they may be able to play spoiler while they evaluate talent, make changes and plan for a better 2011 season.

Peace,

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