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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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The Norfolk Tides 2010 Season in Review: Part One – The Team

1st Baseman Brandon Snyder was one of the Tides Called up in September

The 2010 Norfolk Tides season was a mixed bag of sorts for the Baltimore Orioles’ Triple-A International League affiliate.  In 2009 the Tides had a “Jeckyl and Hyde” quality. After an incredible April and May where they were playing close to .700 ball maybe of their young guns were prematurely called to Baltimore due to injuries of key players on the Major League Squad.  The result was predictable those called up by the O’s were not fully ready and while some like outfielder Nolan Reimold did very well others did not fare so well, especially among the young pitchers. The young “baby O’s” did not have the benefit of good leadership in the dugout from Manager Dave Trembley and were exposed to a clubhouse that was used to losing, season after season.  Meanwhile the Tides without the players who had given the team its early success went into a tailspin, as was the case with Tides players being called to the big league club too early the Tides found themselves restocked with promising but not quite ready Single and Double-A players.  In addition to that injuries to other key players crippled the team. The Tides finished the season with a .500 record but just barely having to win their final game of the season the accomplish that.

The 2010 campaign began with a team that looked pretty good on paper; until very early in the season the O’s called up some of the Tides best players which was compounded by the usual spike of injuries as well as the unexpectedly poor performance of some players that had been stars on the 2009 team.  In May the Tides received a new Manager, Bobby Dickerson when Gary Allenson was called up to Baltimore as the Interim Third Base Coach when Dave Trembley was fired.  Under Dickerson the Tides played a more aggressive style of baseball but were not consistent.  They finished the season tied with the Charlotte Knights each with a record of 67 wins and 77 loses and a .465 winning percentage. Both teams ended the season 21.5 games behind the league leading Durham Bulls.

A lot of the problem this year was in the hitting department. The Tides hit for only a .251 team average and with the exception of the home run category were near the bottom of the IL in every major offensive category. Now the hitting did improve as the season went on, in May the Tides team average was in the low .230s, they finished at .251.  In one area they significantly improved from 2009 and that was in Home Runs.  In 2010 the Tides had 122 well above the 78 of 2009.

In the pitching department the Tides look solid until Jake Arietta and Alfredo Simon were called to Baltimore while other pitchers had rocky starts to the season or lost games because of either having no run support or being victimized by defensive letdowns in critical situations.  In defense of the pitchers it must be noted that 80 of the runs scored against the Tides were unearned runs coming off of errors by the defense. Only one other team in the league allowed more than the Tides, their IL South rivals the Charlotte Knights.  I saw many of these games where a pitcher would have the lead, have two outs in an inning and have a defensive error allow runs to score and get more batters to the plate. It happened time and time again. The team had 147 errors which averages more than one error per game with Shortstop Robert Andino having 31 of those errors leading the league in that category.

It is my view that lack of fundamentals on the defensive side of the house and lack of hitting were the cause of most of the Tides misfortunes this year.  While they may not have matched Durham they most certainly would have had a much better record, possibly one good enough to compete for the Wild Card spot in the playoffs.

With a significant amount of moves coming up in the Orioles organization in the off season it will be interesting to see the changes on the Tides roster and possibly coaching staff.

There were a lot of positives during the season among the individual players that cannot be overlooked.  I will cover the players in part two of this series over the coming days and weeks.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Aubrey’s Assault Continues: 2 Home Runs and 6 RBIs in Tides 10-7 Win over Chiefs Gabino Gets 6th Win

Michael Aubrey hits his second of two home runs in the 4th inning

Michael Aubrey has been locked on of late and tonight against the Syracuse Chiefs he continued his recent rampage.  In the past 6 games he has hit 7 home runs and driven in 16 RBIs.  In the past 10 games he has a .314 batting average a .395 on base percentage and an astronomical .971 slugging percentage. After having struggled through much of the first half of the season battling injury and his mechanics the Tides slugger who hit .290 for the Tides last year and .289 for the Orioles as a September call up and before the terrible decision to sign Garrett Atkins in the off season was expected to be the Orioles starting First Baseman but instead was sent back to Norfolk.  Michael Aubrey is locked on like no one in a Tides uniform that I have seen in recent years.

Armando Gabino pitched his way to his 6th victory

Meanwhile on that little hill in the middle of the Diamond Armando Gabino (6-0, S2 2.34 ERA) continues to rack up wins as a spot starter for the Tides tonight getting the win pitching 6 innings giving up 1 run on 2 hits surrendering 2 walks and striking out 7 before yielding to some rather inadequate relief pitching by Pat Egan, Jim Hoey and Frank Mata.  The trio of relievers combined to allow 6 runs on 7 hits and surrendered 4 walks to make the game a lot closer than it needed to be.  The biggest disappointment continues to be Pat Egan who gave up 3 of those runs on 5 hits and a walk.  Egan’s ERA is now 8.18 and in 11 innings work has given up 20 hits and 10 runs.  He seems to have no movement on his pitches and every time that I have seen him he has been tattooed by opposing hitters.

Jonathan Tucker scores in the 7th inning

The Tides hitters led by Aubrey lit up Chiefs pitchers beginning in the first inning where after singles by Robert Andino and Joey Gathright Nolan Reimold walked to load the bases for Michael Aubrey who plastered a pitch by Chiefs starter Jason Jones (1-5 6.21 ERA) over the right field wall for a grand slam home run and fast 4-0 lead.  The Tides added another run after Paco Figueroa doubled and was driven home on a Michel Hernandez single.  In the 2nd inning Matt Angle scored on a Nolan Reimold single.  In the 4th inning the Tides extended their lead to 9-0 when Robert Andino hit his 11th home run with one out followed by a two run shot by Michael Aubrey.  The Tides scored their final run in the bottom of the 7th when Jonathan Tucker and Joey Gathright singled off of reliever Josh Wilkie. Robert Andino singled to score Tucker and Gathright was thrown out at third to end the inning.

Robert Andino homers in the 4th inning

In the 5th inning Gabino made his only mistake when he gave up a home run to Luis Ordaz.  Gabino left after completing the 6th inning and was relieved by Pat Egan who allowed 2 runs in the 7th and another in the 8th before yielding to Jim Hoey with one out in the 8th. Hoey put down the Chiefs’ threat in the 8th but walked two and was replaced by Frank Mata making his first appearance since being optioned back to the Tides.  Mata was shaky in his return allowing a double and a single as well as giving up two wild pitches scoring both of the runs charged to Hoey and one of his own before striking out Justin Maxwell to end the game.

Gabino got the win his 6th of the year and Jason Jones the loss. The Chiefs had 7 runs on 9 hits with no errors leaving 7 on base while the Tides had 10 runs on 13 hits and no errors stranding 8 runners.  Four Tides Gathright, Andino, Aubrey and Tucker had multiple hits and Aubrey was responsible for 6 of the Tides 10 runs.

Fair Winds and Following Seas…the Tides release Joey Gathright

The game would be the last for Joey Gathright in a Tides uniform as he was released today. Joey is a class individual and was well liked in Norfolk.  In 2009 he hit .325 with 106 hits for the Tides before being traded to the Red Sox in September.  He returned to the Tides this year and was not the same spending time on the DL.  It was a disappointing and frustrating time for Joey but he conducted himself with a great deal of poise and grace even when struggling.  He left on a good note going 2 for 3 with a run scored.  I hope that someone picks up the 29 year old Gathright and wish him well. Zack Clark was assigned from the Tides to single A Frederick and Troy Patton called up to Baltimore to sit in the bullpen on the 21st was optioned back to the Tides following the O’s game against Tampa.

Well my friends, we’ll have more in my next post about Thursday afternoon’s series finale.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s Tides and Orioles Report: A Look at Where we Stand

As the Tides get ready for game three of their four-game set with the Syracuse Chiefs there have been some significant personnel moves which involve both the Tides and their parent organization the Baltimore Orioles.  These moves are probably just the start of moves that might take place prior to the trading deadline at the end of the month.  This is the report that I promised back at the All-Star break

To begin in Baltimore the O’s reinstated closer Mike Gonzalez after the completion of his minor league rehab for a strained left shoulder.  They made room on the 40 man roster by moving relief pitcher Jim Johnson from the 15 day disabled list to the 60 day disabled list effectively ending his season.  Johnson has been on the DL since May 28th with right elbow inflammation.  Third Baseman Josh Bell was optioned back to the Tides after going 6 for 19 (.263) in six games for the O’s.  Bell’s return to the Tides will add another strong bat to the order as well as a switch hitter.  On Tuesday the Orioles had optioned Chris Tillman back to the Tides as was reliever Frank Mata on the 19th. While disappointing for these pitchers they are both still on the 40 man roster and their return to the Tides solidifies both the starting rotation as well as the bullpen.

Some Tides are making a difference at Baltimore, especially outfielder Corey Patterson and relief pitcher Alfredo Simon.

In the moves Tides left handed pitcher Troy Patton was recalled to Baltimore after going 6 and 9 with a 4.91 ERA which was 3.44 in the last 18 games. A lot of Troy’s losses came on games where he got no run support or the opposing team was given extra chances through the errors of Tides players.  It the first time that Troy has been at the Major League level since 2007 with Houston.  The move of Patton to Baltimore means that Armando Gabino will be called upon again to make a spot start.

The Tides have 29 players on the roster 3 of which are on the DL so a player will have to be moved to keep the active roster at the 25 man limit.  My recommendation would be Tim Bascom for the time being in order to let his injury heal and to get his confidence back after several outings where he was shelled by the opposition. Pat Egan is another possibility for movement and even potentially Brandon Erbe however I would not want to see that move just yet.  There is the case of Cla Meredith who was sent to Norfolk from the Orioles and cut from the O’s 40 man roster and he has not been effective at all since coming down to Norfolk and my sources tell me that he is extremely frustrated with his situation vice the Orioles.  He could be used to sweeten any deals that the O’s make approaching the trading deadline as I believe that he can be effective at the Major League level despite his struggles here and that a fresh start may be what he needs.  Alberto Castillo has performed adequately with the exception of a couple of bad outings but it is obvious that the 35 year old lefty’s better days are behind him.  Chris George has been solid for the Tides and is good to have in the organization as a left hander and Armando Gabino is the undiscovered gem of the Tides. Gabino has pitched well in starting situations where he is 5-0 and has helped hold the bullpen together in middle to late relief.  Two men that have been up and down between the Tides and Aberdeen which is for all purposes functioning as a taxi squad are relievers Jim Miller and Andy Mitchell.  Both had rough starts to their seasons but have been solid “go to” guys when a starter gets in trouble early in the game and Miller has served well in his natural position of being a closer.  Brandon Erbe has been on the DL and while struggling early has been bereft of run support and as is the case with most of the Tides pitchers victimized by poor defense at critical junctures.  Mike Hinckley appears to have major league stuff but still needs some work as he is inconsistent.  Zack Clark also seems to be solid and except for one bad outing has done well but had almost no run support.  Zack Britton seems to be on the fast track for the majors and I am really impressed by his speed, ball movement and control as well his sense for where he needs to be on the diamond when the ball is in play.  Kam Mickolio has been on the DL much of the year and when he was healthy seemed to struggle. He has major league stuff but something needs to be fine tuned. He has been on the 7 day DL for some time now and since he is on the 40 man roster I wonder if it would not be wise at this point to move him to the 60 day DL if he is not ready in order to free up some room and give him time to heal and get his mechanics right.  He has too much potential just to let go but I wonder about leaving him in the 7 day DL limbo.  Denis Sarfate is another that is overlooked. He has been functioning for the most part as the closer and done well with the exception of one appearance.  He has great stuff with speed, control and good movement throwing in the mid to high 90s with the ability to throw hitters off with an occasional off speed pitch.  Jim Hoey looks to have promise but has not been up long enough to see how he will do in the long run.

Of position players there are a number that have been struggling or injured that might be moved to Aberdeen as a holding measure including Joey Gathright who has not been the same as he was last year when he hit .325 for the Tides.  Joey still hustles and plays hard but there is something in his mechanics that is limiting his effectiveness at the plate.  Nolan Reimold who the Orioles have invested a great deal of hope in is still only hitting .210 after leading the American League rookies in 2009 in home runs. He too had an injury that he does not seem to have bounced back from and suffered from some personal issues that have taken his focus off the game.  He does not seem to have the winning look in his eyes right now and seems to have his head down a lot.  Orioles and Tides fans really want him to succeed so I don’t know what will be the case.  Michael Aubrey has come on strong hitting 5 home runs in the last 6 games while Jeff Salazar, Matt Angle and Rhyne Hughes stay very productive.  Paco Figueroa  and Blake Davis are coming along and Jonathan Tucker shows promise.  Robert Andino has to improve defensively but he has been a clutch hitter with men in scoring position leading the Tides in RBI production.

I think that there are a good number of Tides with major league potential. Of course their disposition depends on what the Orioles do in Baltimore. The trade deadline is approaching and there are a number of players that could be moved whose moves could affect players in Norfolk and Bowie.  In the system the O’s have players that could be used to sweeten deals and would not have to be their big time prospects. We saw this in the move of Ross Wolf to get Jake Fox from Oakland.

The time has come for Andy McPhail and the Orioles to get a new manager, hopefully Buck Showalter and start shedding unproductive or underperforming players at Baltimore and in their minor league system. The teaching of fundamentals at all levels must be reemphasized especially fielding and various reaction drills.  Bobby Dickerson has really done well in changing how the Tides play, there is a lot more heads up play and players that are not on the field seem now to be in the game.  The team is responding to his leadership where maybe they had gotten used to Gary Allenson and did not respond to him as they should have done.

There is work to be done in the Orioles organization and it has to start from the top, a new manager and possibly new hitting and pitching coaches at the major league level. I think that Showalter need to be hired now and not later and that Bobby Dickerson be announced as the manager and not the interim manager of the Tides.

My prediction is that I think that the Tides will finish the season above .500 and I do not see the meltdown of last year happening with this year’s team. I think that they will finish in either second or third place in the division while Durham wins it.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Plop Plop Fizz Fizz Oh What a Relief it’s Not: Tides Lose 7-5 as Relievers Melt Down

Zach Britton was impressive in his AAA debut in Norfolk but got a no-decsion

It was an absolutely gorgeous night for baseball in Norfolk with unseasonably low temperatures in the mid-70s and low humidity at Harbor Park on Thursday night, the kind of baseball weather that in this part of the country fans long to have instead of the normally hot and humid weather typical for the 1st of July. On such a night the Norfolk Tides opened a three game home stand with the Charlotte Knights with Zach Britton making his AAA debut for the Tides.

Going into the top of the 7th inning it appeared that the Tides were well on their way to a victory behind the pitching of Britton.  The young pitcher dominated the Charlotte nights and in six innings work had a shutout going allowing only three hits while throwing 45 of 70 pitches for strikes.  The young left hander was in control the entire outing striking out four and walking none as Tides hitters had given him a 4-0 lead powered by Jeff Salazar and Rhyne Hughes who each pounded out a home run over the right field wall.

Jeff Salazar hits his 14th home run of the season

With Britton being on a pitch count Manager Bobby Dickerson brought in Armando Gabino into the game in the 7th inning. Gabino who has for the most part been a lights out middle reliever this season as well as occasional starter had control problems early throwing only 15 of 27 pitches for strikes. He walked Tyler Flowers to lead off the inning and on with 2 strikes on Josh Kroeger surrendered a home run that bounced across the roof to the right field Straub Beer party deck.  Gabino then got Stefan Gartrell to pop up for the first out. Jordan Danks then singled.  The Knights then received a gift from the Tides when on a deep fly ball to right field by Fernando Cortez Rhyne Hughes dropped the ball sending Danks to third and Cortez to second with only one out. Gabino then stuck out Brent Morel before being pulled for Alberto Castillo. Castillo has had his ups and downs this season and on the first pitch he hit Alejandro De Aza to load the bases. Luis Rodriguez singled to score Danks and Cortez to tie the game before striking out Buck Coats to end the inning.

Despite the loss it was a beautiful night for a ball game

The Tides took the lead back in the bottom frame when Robert Andino singled and pitcher Carlos Torres walked both Jeff Salazar and Michael Aubrey. Greg Aquino came in for the Knights and with the bases loaded walked Nolan Reimold to score Andino.  Unfortunately for the Tides they could not take advantage of a bases loaded and one out situation. Rhyne Hughes popped up and Blake Davis struck out swinging to end the inning.  The failure to capitalize on the pitching mistakes of the Knights would prove fatal for the Tides.  Castillo got his act together to send the Knights down in order in the 8th and in the bottom of the 8th the Tides failed to bring across Matt Angle who had reached first on a 3rd strike wild pitch and advance to second when Robert Andino walked before Jeff Salazar flew out to deep right field to end the inning.

With the lead again the Tides brought in Denis Sarfate who has been lights out as a closer this year having 10 saves to his credit.  Tonight however was not Sarfate’s night. After striking out Jordan Danks Sarfate loaded the bases on two walks and a single before giving up a single to Louis Rodriguez which scored two runs and left Rodriguez in a rundown in which he was out but the third runner Alejandro De Aza to score to give the Knights a 7-5 lead that they would not relinquish as the Tides went down quietly in the bottom of the 9th with only Joey Gathright reaching base on a two out walk.

Denis Sarfate (0-1 BS-1 4.08 ERA) got the loss for the Tides while Greg Aquino (1-3 5.25 ERA) got the win and Ryan Braun his 13th save. It was a night that the Tides wasted an opportunity to win the game and gain ground on the Knights but for the miserable performance of normally solid pitchers and the huge error of Rhyne Hughes.

Tonight the teams renew the series at Harbor Park with Zach Clark (0-2 3.09 ERA) on the hill for the Tides facing Jeff Marquez (6-4 4.24).  Tonight is a salute to the Negro Leagues and both the Tides and the Knights will be wearing replica Negro League uniforms as the US Postal Service unveils a commemorative Negro League stamp set in a pre-game ceremony.

In Baltimore Jake Arietta and Frank Mata got beaten up by the Athletics as the Orioles went down to defeat at Camden Yards by a score of 8-1.

See you at Harbor Park tonight.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Lose Friday 6-2 but Win Handily Saturday against Mud Hens 10-3

Jeff Salazar hit his 10th and 11th home runs on Saturday night

Chris George got roughed up by the Toledo Mud Hens on Friday night at 5th 3rd Field in the second game of a four game set between the Norfolk Tides and the Mud Hens.  Chris gave up 3 runs in the 1st inning on a 3 run homer by Jeff Larish with 2 outs in the inning.  Chris was stung again in the bottom of the 2nd when Scott Sizemore hit a 2 run blast with 2 outs in the bottom frame of that inning.

The Tides got a run in the 1st inning when Matt Angle singled, stole second and advanced to 3rd on a throwing error by Mud Hens catcher Jeff Kunkle.  He scored on a ground ball hit by Robert Andino.  In the second inning the Tides scored again when Nolan Reimold and Michel Hernandez singled and Reimold scored on a ground out by Blake Davis.

With the score 5-2 the Mud Hens picked up another run on George when Jeff Kunkle doubled and scored on an RBI single by Brent Dlugach.  The Tides made the game closer in the top of the 5th inning closing the gap to 6-4.  Matt Angle walked and then erased on a force out when Robert Andino grounded to third.  Jeff Salazar popped out to third for the 2nd out bringing Josh Bell to the plate.  Bell walked and was followed by Michael Aubrey who doubled to score Andino and Bell.

Michel Hernandez went 3 for 4 including a double on Saturday

The rest of the game was about relief pitching. George left the game in the top of the 5th having surrendered 6 runs on 9 hits including 2 home runs in 4 innings work. In those 4 innings he threw 85 pitches.  Mike Hinckley came on in relief pitching the 5th and 6th innings allowing 2 runs but no runs walking none and striking out two.  Alberto Castillo came on in the 7th and pitched two scoreless innings giving up no hits or walks and striking out two.  The Mud Hens relievers were just as effective as the Tides.  Josh Rainwater came into the game in the top of the 6th inning and pitched three scoreless innings allowing 2 hits.  John Sborz closed the game getting his 15th save of the campaign allowing no hits though Robert Andino reached on an error by Scott Sizemore.

Alberto Castillo pitched well in relief on Friday

The game ended with the Tides having 4 runs on 9 hits with two errors and leaving 8 men on base. The Mud Hens had 6 runs on 11 hits and one error also leaving 8 runners on base. Ruddy Lugo (2-3 8.23 ERA) got the win for the Mud Hens while Chris George (2-2 4.28 ERA) got the loss.

On Saturday the Tides bats came alive to give Troy Patton his 5th win of the season, something that Troy had not had much of early in the year. Troy pitched 5 innings allowing 3 runs, only one of which was earned, 6 hits, 2 walks and 2 strike outs. Armando Gabino back in the middle relief role with the return of Brad Bergeson to the Tides came into the game in the top of the 6th inning and remained strong in relief pitching three scoreless innings giving up three hits.  Cla Meredith closed the game for the Tides and for the first time since his arrival shut down the opposing team pitching a one-two-three 9th inning striking out two.

The Tides went to work on Mud Hens pitchers beginning with the starter Lauren Gagnier who they tagged for 6 runs on 9 hits including a 3rd inning home run by Josh Bell, his 8th of the season.

The Mud Hens got out to an early lead scoring on a pair of doubles by Scott Sizemore and Jeff Frazier however they would not score again until the 5th inning when Patton walked Scott Sizemore and then made a throwing error on a force attempt which allowed Jeff Frazier on board.  Jeff Larish doubled to score both Sizemore and Frazier but Patton would pitch out of trouble ending the inning.

The Tides scored early pounding out 4 runs in the top of the 2nd inning against Gagnier. Nolan Reimold doubled with one out and took third on a wild pitch. Michael Aubrey walked and with Robert Andino batting Gagnier threw wild on a pickoff attempt allowing Reimold to score and Aubrey to take 2nd.  Andino struck out swinging and catcher Michel Hernandez singled to score Aubrey and took second on the attempt to get Aubrey at home.  Paco Figueroa singled to score Hernandez and scored on an RBI double by Matt Angle.  Josh Bell hit his 8th home run in the top of the 3rd and made the score 5-1.  In the top of the 6th Hernandez singled with one out and scored on a triple by Paco Figueroa. This sent Gagnier to the showers and brought in Matt Hoffman.  Then the Tides did something that they have not done this year, made the bold attempt to steal home.  Figueroa was out at the plate but the next batter, Matt Angle singled and scored on Jeff Salazar’s 10th home run of the season to make the score 8-3.  In the top of the 8th with Hoffman still pitching Michel Hernandez doubled and Paco Figueroa walked to chase Hoffman from the game and bring on Scott Drucker. Drucker got Matt Angle to ground into a double play giving the Mud Hens hope that they might stop the Tides.  His hopes were dashed when Salazar hit his second home run of the game, his 11th of the season.

At the end of the day it was the Tides wining scoring 10 runs on 14 hits and one error with three home runs leaving 6 men on base.  The Mud Hens scored 3 runs on 9 hits also having an error leaving 9 runners stranded.  Troy Patton (5-7 4.74 ERA) got the win and Gagnier (3-3 3.49 ERA) got the loss. The teams play the final game against each other for the season tonight with Brandon Erbe (0-9 6.03 ERA) going up against Alfredo Figaro (5-4 4.36 ERA) on the hill for the Hens.

In a personnel note Tides outfielder Joey Gathright was reactivated coming off the 7 Day Disabled List.

Until next time.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Tides Defeat Rochester 4-3 as Cla Meredith gets the “Unsave”

Chris George pitched a great game but was left with a no-decision

The Norfolk Tides took the second game of their four game set against the Rochester Red Wings behind solid pitching by Chris George and Denis Sarfate.  With the game time temperature at a comfortable 75 degrees and a light 5 mile and hour wind blowing out to center field under clear skies it was a beautiful western New York night for baseball in front of just under 5000 fans.

The game began on the wrong foot for the Tides when on the second pitch of the game Jason Repko hit a ground ball to third which Josh Bell mishandled and was charged with an error. Repko stole second and took third on a ground out by Brian Dinkelman. He would score on a single by Trevor Plouffe.  This would be the only run allowed while George was pitching and was unearned.  The Red Wings did not score again until the bottom of the 8th inning.

In 6.2 innings work George gave up 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5 Red Wing batters. Rochester starting pitcher Glen Perkins held the Tides in check until the 4th inning. In the fourth Josh Bell hammered his 16th double of the season and Nolan Reimold still digging out of his horrific hitting slump on his arrival in Norfolk then singled.  Paco Figueroa came up next and singled to score Bell and was followed by Adam Donachie who singled to drive in Reimold giving the Tides a 2-1 lead.  George would get the first two batters of the 7th inning but after hitting Brian Dinkelman with a pitch was relieved by Ross Wolf who got the next batter, Trevor Plouffe to ground out to Brandon Snyder at first.  In the top frame of the 8th inning the Tides scored again.  Robert Andino doubled to lead the inning off of Red Wings reliever pitcher Brad Hennessy.  Hennessy intentionally walked Josh Bell and got Nolan Reimold to pop up to first base for the second out. Brandon Snyder came up to the plate and singled the first pitch delivered by Hennessy into center field which scored Andino.

In the bottom of the 8th the Tides brought in newly activated relief pitcher Cla Meredith who had been optioned to Norfolk from the O’s late last week. Matt Macri singled to lead off the inning and Meredith walked Brock Peterson.  Wilson Ramos advanced both runners on a sacrifice bunt to first base and Meredith struck out Jose Morales.  On a 0-2 count Dustin Martin singled to drive in Macri and Ramos to tie the game, which netted Meredith his first blown save in Norfolk.  He was able to retire Jason Repko to end the inning.

In the top of the 9th with one out Joey Gathright singled on a ground ball to second and advanced to second on a throwing error by second baseman Brian Dinkelman and Matt Angle singled to bring Gathright home to retake the lead for the Tides. In the bottom frame the Tides brought in Denis Sarfate sent the Wings down in order on 12 pitches for his 4th save of the season.

Cla Meredith got what I am going to start calling the “unsave” instead of a standard “blown save.” The definition that I give to the “unsave” is a blown save where the reliever who blows the save ends up getting the win.  It’s kind of like when 7-Up was called the “uncola” it’s not a save and yet it doesn’t have the same sting as a blown save, unless perhaps you are the pitcher that would have had a win had the reliever not blown the save. Unsaves are kind of wins that a pitcher falls into as he has to blow the save to get the win which if you think about it is not a way that you want to win if you can avoid it. But anyway I digress.

The Tides had 4 runs on 12 hits with 1 error and left 10 on base while the Red Wings had 3 runs on 8 hits and 1 error and also left 10 men on base.  Cla Meredith (1-0 18.00 ERA) got the win for the Tides and Denis Sarfate (0-0 S4 1.15 ERA) the save. Anthony Slama (0-1 1.80 ERA) took the loss for the Wings. Tonight the teams play game three of this series with Troy Patton (3-6 5.70 ERA) who dominated Pawtucket in his last start taking the hill for the Tides and Matt Fox (4-2 2.44 ERA) pitching for the home team.

The Orioles lost their sixth straight, this time to the New York Yankees as Miguel Tejada committed an error which allowed two runs to score giving the loss to Brian Matusz who only allowed one earned run to the powerful Yankees attack.  The loss dropped the O’s to 15-37with a .288 winning percentage.  Things do not look any brighter tonight as the Yankees have a 6-0 lead in the 5th having driven Brad Bergeson from the game.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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