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A Beautiful Day for a Ball Game

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Yamaico Navarro singles in the Winning Run in the Tides 5-4 Win

Let’s go, batter up!

We’re taking the afternoon off. It’s a beautiful day for a ball game, a ball game today.

The fans are all our to get a ticket or two, from Walla Walla Washington to Kalamazoo

It’s a beautiful day for a home run, but even a triple’s ok!

We’re gonna cheer, and boo and raise a hullabaloo

At the ball game today…

“It’s a beautiful day for a Ball Game” 1960 Harry Simone Songsters

Well sport’s fans it’s Padre Steve blogging to you live from beautiful Harbor Park in Norfolk Virginia. Actually I am writing this live but since there is no wi-fi connection at the ballpark this year it will be posted a little bit after the game is over. Tonight I am getting to see my first game of the year in person and I am excited. Tonight the Norfolk Tides host the Charlotte Knights in the second game of a thee game set. On Monday night the Tides were hammered by the Knights who scored 21 runs against a seemingly hapless Norfolk pitching staff.

Tonight Josh Stinson is on the hill for the Tides and he is facing former Tides and Orioles prospect Jason Berken.

Tonight was a better for the Tides who were just 1-4 to open the season. Regardless I was happy to be here with the Harbor Park regulars that I call my friends. It was good to see my buddies Elliot the Usher and Chip the Usher as well as Marty the Card Dealer and sitting down behind the plate in section 102, my old season ticket section before I was transferred to Camp LeJeune in the fall of 2010.

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Baseball as anyone who reads this site regularly or knows me knows, is something akin to a religion for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with that “nothing bad accrues from baseball” a lot more than can be said for most religions and their most fervent, devout and often intolerant followers. The only thing a devout baseball fan might be intolerant of is artificial turf, the designated hitter rule and any bat made out of something other than wood. Of course any of us also have a visceral reaction to our favorite teams blood rivals, one needs to understand that the Dodger’s are evil. At least from this San Francisco Giant’s fan’s perspective.

Going to the ball park for me is one of the most relaxing places to go and a place of peace. Harbor Park, which I refer to as the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish has been that place of solace for me especially after my return from Iraq in 2008. It is a place that I feel safe at and since I still have a certain terror or crowds of people that is no small thing.

It is interesting to watch the game. A couple of years ago when I was a season ticket holder I knew most of the team but then I moved away and only got to a few games each of the last two seasons. The guys that I knew are either in Baltimore or with other organizations and some are out of baseball. The life of minor leaguers is hard, not much job security and most never spent much time in the majors. This year’s team has a number of veterans and journeymen who have been around the majors and minors with a sprinkling of young prospects. Some of the veterans include Russ Canzler, Danny Valencia and Travis Ishikawa. Prospects include Jonathan Schoop, Trayvon Robinson and L J Hoes. I expect that some of the young players at AA Bowie or High Single A Frederick will make their way to Norfolk before the end of the season.

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The game began under perfectly clear skies with the wind blowing in from the southwest and a temperature of about 80 degrees. It was dominated more by defense than hitting and at the end of the 5th inning the Knights had a 3-0 lead. Both teams removed their starting pitchers in their half of the 6th inning. The offense for the Knights was produced by 2 solo home runs by Jordan Danks and Seth Loman.

The Tides were down 4-0 in the bottom of the 8th when Trayvon Robinson doubled down the left field line. Russ Canzler belted his second home run of the season off Daniel Moskos to deep left to make it a 4-2 Knights lead. The Tides loaded the bases with 2 outs and scored another run when reliever Jeff Gray pinch hitter Conor Jackson. L J Hoes grounded out to the pitcher to end the inning.

In the 9th inning Tides reliever Adam Russell loaded the bases but worked out of trouble to keep the score at 4-3. In the bottom half of the inning Gray walked Trayvon Robinson and Canzler hammered a deep drive to left center which died at the wall. Gray then walked Danny Valencia. Travis Ishikawa singled to right scoring Robinson and advancing Valencia to 3rd. With one out and runners on 1st and 3rd Yamaico Navarro singled to center giving the Tides a walk off win.

Peace, Love and Baseball

Padre Steve+

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Tides Double up Knights 4-2: Aubrey Strikes again as Patton Wins 8th

Troy Patton notched his 8th victory of the 2010 season on Friday night

The Norfolk Tides and Charlotte Knights played the last home game at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish of the 2010 season on Friday night. The Tides started Troy Patton against Charlotte’s Brandon Hynick with Patton looking for his 8th win of a frustrating season including two mid season call-ups to Baltimore without making an appearance.  Patton who had gotten off to a rough start at the beginning of the season continually improved and very easily could have had several more wins had there not been critical errors or leaving the game and having a reliever get roughed up to give him a no-decision. However Friday night was a different matter as Patton pitched a solid game and the defense overcame errors that might have cost the game. He was also backed up by solid relief pitching which secured the win.

Michael Aubrey hit his 22nd home run of the season in the 1st inning

The Tides offense provided the needed support once again led by Michael Aubrey who has been hitting home runs at a torrid pace with 16 dingers since the 2nd of July. The Tides opened up a quick lead when with 2 outs in the bottom of the 1st inning Jeff Salazar singled and Aubrey came to the plate and on a no ball and two strike count took Hynick’s pitch yard over the Straub Beer Party deck in right field. The Knights picked up a run in the top of the second when Patton walked Luis Rodriguez and then had Jeremy Reed double to put runners on second and third with one out. The Knights then scored when Blake Davis muffed a ground ball hit by Fernando Cortez to allow Rodriguez to score.  The Tides got that run back in the bottom of the 3rd inning when Blake Davis and Paco Figueroa had back to back singles. They attempted a double steal in which Figueroa was gunned down by catcher Adam Ricks and Davis went to third.  Jeff Salazar then singled to drive in Davis and the score was 3-1.

Alberto Castillo sent the Knights down in order in the 8th

The Knights drew within a run in the top of the 6th inning when Patton walked Luis Rodriguez and then got Jeremy Reed to fly out to right. With one out Fernando Cortez hit a ground ball to just reactivated from the DL Scott Moore who rushed his throw and tossed it past First Baseman Michael Aubrey allowing Rodriguez to reach third and Cortez to make second with just one out.  Robert Hudson hit into a fielder’s choice to score Rodriguez before Patton retired Adam Ricks on a ground ball to first. Patton put down the first two batters of the 7th inning Bobby Dickerson pulled Troy for Kam Mickolio who struck out Dayan Viciedo swinging on three pitches to end the inning.

Dennis Sarfate got his 20th save of the season

Charlotte sent Miguel Socolovich to relieve Hyndick in the 7th and the Tides scored again in that inning when with one out Paco Figueroa and Jeff Salazar singled to place runners at first and third. Socolovich then threw a wild pitch which scored Figueroa and sent Salazar to third giving the Tides a 4-2 lead. Socolovich wisely gave Michael Aubrey an intentional pass and then walked Rhyne Hughes to load the bases.  Scott Moore hit into a force in which Salazar was out at the plate. Buck Britton then flied out to end the inning.

Kam Mickolio came back out in the top of the 8th giving up a single to Stefan Gartrell and a walk to Luis Rodriguez before Bobby Dickerson sent in Alberto Castillo to relieve Mickolio.  Castillo was very effective getting Jeremy Reed to pop out to Scott Moore and then Fernando Cortez to fly out softly to left fielder Miguel Abreu.  Castillo then struck out Robert Hudson to end the inning.  Brandon Hynick (1-4 6.22 ERA) took the loss for the Knights.  T

The Tides went down in order in the top of the 9th facing Jhonny Nunez.  The Tides sent in Dennis Sarfate who got Adam Ricks to ground out for the first out and then surrendered a double to Buck Coats.  Jordan Danks walked and then with one out got Dayan Viciedo to ground out into a double play to end the inning and the game.  The Tides left the field to a standing ovation from the 8500 or so Church of Baseball Harbor Park Parish faithful who were treated to a fireworks display at the end of the game.

Troy Patton (8-11 4.43 ERA) got the win in his final start of the year for the Tides and Dennis Sarfate notched his 20th save lowering his ERA to 2.62.  Brandon Hynick (1-4 6.22 ERA) took the loss. The Knights had 2 runs on 7 hits with no errors leaving 10 men on base. The Tides had 4 runs on 11 hits but 3 errors leaving 9 base runners stranded.

The Tides travel to Durham to end their 2010 season against the Bulls. In late breaking news Chris Tillman was recalled to the Orioles where he will start Sunday’s game against the Tamp Bay Rays at Oriole Park.

With no more home games for the Tides and only three road games my attention will begin to focus to the Major League pennant races as well as some other ideas that I have percolating for some time.  I will write about the three final games in Durham as well as have a number of articles analyzing the Tides season, the roster and what I think the prospects are for each Tides player in 2011.  I will as I did last year post a photo essay or two about the season at Harbor Park.

Peace and blessings

Padre Steve+

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Scott Moore Leads Tides to 9-4 Victory over Knights, Tillman Gets 10th Victory

Scott Moore hits his first of two 2 run home runs on Sunday night

The Norfolk Tides took their 3 game series against the Charlotte Knights on Sunday night defeating Knights by a score of 9-4 in front of a crowd of 5,011 at Harbor Park.

Chris Tillman got his 10th win of the season

The Knights got to Christ Tillman in the second inning scoring two runs on 4 hits before Tillman regained control of the situation.  Chris would scatter 4 more hits and be charged with 1 more run but kept the Knights in check while the Tides offense went to work.  Charlotte starting pitcher Lucas Harrell retired Paco Figueroa and Jeff Salazar and with 2 outs the Tides came in.  Robert Andino singled and Harrell walked both Michael Aubrey and Nolan Reimold to load the bases. He then balked with Lou Montanez at the plate to score Andino and advance Aubrey and Reimold. With that it was Katie bar the door as Montanez singled to score both runners.  He then stole second base with Scott Moore at the plate before Moore crushed a pitch over the right field wall giving the Tides a 5-2 lead.

Scott Moore about to make contact with his second home run off Lucas Harrell

In the bottom of the 5th inning the Tides rolled again with Scott Moore taking the leading role.  Nolan Reimold walked with one out and then Lou Montanez reached on a throwing error by third baseman Dayan Viciedo which scored Reimold from first.  The brought Scott Moore back to the plate and he launched another bomb over the right field fence for his 2nd two run home run in as many at bats.  Brandon Snyder doubled and moved to 3rd base on an Adam Donachie single. Paco Figueroa grounded into a force which score Snyder to give the Tides a 9-2 lead.

Kam Mickolio held the Knights in the 7th and 8th innings

Charlotte scored twice in the top of the 7th with Tillman leaving after a leadoff single by Brent Morel.  He was relieved by Alberto Castillo who walked Fernando Cortez and after a visit by pitching coach Mike Griffin to the mound struck out Buck Coats.  Jordan Danks singled to score Morel and that was it for Castillo who was relieved by Kam Mickolio.  Kam stuck out Dayan Viciedo before giving up a single to Stefan Gartrell to score Cortez before retiring the side.

That would be all of the scoring as Mickolio sent the Knights down in order in the 8th and Frank Mata retired the Knights allowing a walk but nothing more in the 9th to secure the win for the Tides.

Chris Tillman (10-7 3.51 ERA) got the win becoming the first Tides pitcher to reach the 10 win mark this season.  Lucas Harrell (10-10 4.75 ERA) took the loss.  The Knights had 4 runs on 10 hits and one error leaving 8 men on base.  The Tides had 9 runs on 11 hits with no errors leaving 8 runners stranded. The Tides travel to Georgia to face the Gwinnett Braves in the first of a two game series against their former Richmond rival.

In a personnel move Rick Vanden Hurk was called up to Baltimore to replace Jason Berken who was placed on the DL with a torn labrum and inflammation in his pitching shoulder. It is expected that Berken will be out for the season.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tillman Throws 1 Hit Shutout Tides Win 2-0

Chris Tillman chalked up another win this time a 1 hit shutout against the Charlotte Knights

Chris Tillman continued his dominance of the International League pitching a one hit shutout against the Charlotte Knights on Monday afternoon.  Tillman (8-4 2.72 ERA) gave up one hit a single to Jordan Danks in the 3rd inning in which Danks was erased in a double play and a 6th inning walk to Danks.  In doing so Tillman faced only 28 hitters throwing 99 pitches of which 64 were strikes.

The Tides offense was minimal but a two run home run by Rhyne Hughes off of Charlotte ace Dan Hudson (11-4 3.47 ERA) in the 4th inning provided the Tides all the offense that they needed due to Tillman’s masterful pitching.  The Tides mustered only 5 hits but they were enough for the win.

Tillman has not lost since returning from his stint in Baltimore where for whatever reason he struggled. I do not think that this was in any means due to his pitching ability but rather self confidence that comes from winning and being on a winning team. In a number of his outings in Baltimore Tillman pitched reasonably well but had no run support from the Orioles offense, something that has plagued every member of the Orioles pitching staff to one degree or another this season even when they pitch well.  Tillman has shown maturity in pitching so well since returning to the Tides, others have not fared so well and not just on the Tides, the minors are littered with pitchers who after being sent back got worse and ended up disappearing from baseball. The psychological blow of being a top prospect, getting to the Majors and then returning to the minors can be devastating, but Tillman has handled this well and I expect that he will return to the Orioles and do quite well once he and the other Orioles pitchers get the badly needed hitting support required if they are to post wins.

As for how the Tides are doing it is a case of making improvements but not yet being consistent in their performance. Their team batting average is .244 still last in the league but only a few points from respectability.  Likewise the team pitching ERA is improving but marginally as with few exceptions the pitching staff has not been consistent case in point being the blown save and win by Tides pitchers on last Thursday where relievers gave up 7 runs in the last three innings after a great start by Troy Patton.  Good performances are subverted by less than stellar performances by others.  There are some pitchers that will need to go unless a marked improvement is shown, particularly Alberto Castillo and Cla Meredith.  I do think that with a little more seasoning that Troy Patton and Brandon Erbe will do fine, Chris George is a keeper and Andy Mitchell while having seen better days is mature and probably a good person to have in the clubhouse and is great in situational relief where his submarine style crosses up batters that have been used to hard throwing overhand pitchers like Tillman.  Jim Miller after a rough start is turning into a winner on a consistent basis and has been solid in middle relief as well as in the closer role, he actually should be more closely looked at by both the Orioles and scouts from other teams.   Armando Gabino has had many good outings and pitched well as a starter and reliever.  Denis Sarfate has been spot on most of the season but something has gotten to him in his last couple of outings so one hopes that he will regain whatever he has lost in the past few games.

Tonight the Tides go down to Georgia with the Tides’ Zach Britton facing Mike Minor of the Braves.

Later,

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 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 Bats go Silent: Tides Lose 6-1 to Charlotte

Chris Tillman got the Start and the Loss

It was a dark and murky night and it seems that with the return of our typical April Hampton Roads weather the bats of the Norfolk Tides have gone on vacation.  For the third consecutive night the Tides were outhit by their opponent and sports fans the game was about as pretty as the weather for the home team. After putting up 12 runs and 14 hits on Saturday night the Tides seemed flummoxed as to how to come up with key hits when they have men on base in scoring position.

There was little positive in tonight’s outing as a sparse crowd of 2456 thinned out to about 20 fans plus the ushers and the remaining vending staff who were cleaning up their stands and kiosks by beginning of the 9th inning.  Even the obnoxious drunk heckler up in one of the luxury boxes was cold and lonely until the lovely Heather of the Tides staff ever so deftly shut him up.  The weather which was cold and breezy to start the game continually got worse until by the 7th inning a heavy and steady mist buffeted by stronger winds made playing and viewing the game unbearable and even the most loyal and diehard fans wrapped in blankets and jackets took to flight as the game slipped away from the Tides.  Of course I stayed to the bitter end making me one of the game’s “bitter enders.”

In the midst of the miserable weather the Tides started Orioles prospect and potential future starter Chris Tillman against Lucas Harrell of the Knights.  Harrell would allow no runs and give up 5 hits striking out 7 on the way to the win.  Tillman pitched 4.2 innings giving up 3 runs on 8 hits and a walk, striking out 4.  Chris did not seem comfortable and the Knights kept the pressure on Tillman with solid hits finally breaking through to score their first run in the 3rd inning.  Tillman allowed a two out triple in the 1st inning to Stefan Gartrell but retired the side and got the Knights in order in the 2nd.  In the 3rd after getting Javier Castillo to ground out gave up a double to Robert Hudson who scored when Jordan Danks singled to right. Tillman then retired Gartrell to end the inning.  The Tides went down in order in the bottom of the third.

The Knights started the fourth with singles from Josh Kroeger and Tyler Flowers but Tillman was able to pitch his way out of trouble.  In the bottom half of the inning the Tides attempted to get a two out rally going when Scott Moore singled and Brandon Snyder drew a base on balls but the runners died on the base paths when Josh Bell grounded out to Second Baseman Rob Hudson.

Andy Mitchell who holds the Tides record for Victories made his first appearance of 2010

In the fifth inning Tillman got into trouble when Hudson and Brent Lillibridge singled to lead of the inning but Hudson was forced at third on a bunt by Jordan Danks.  Tillman struck out Gartrell but then gave up a walk to Lillibridge to load the bases.  This would bring Tides Manager Gary Allenson to the mound and end Tillman’s outing with the bases loaded.  Tides veteran Andy Mitchell who was activated earlier in the day made his 2010 debut at Harbor Park. Mitchell has the all time record for number of victories as a Tide and Knight’s catcher Tyler Flowers welcomed Andy back to Harbor Park by lacing a single to right scoring both Lillibridge and Danks with the runs being charged to Tillman.  Mitchell then struck out Virgil Viciedo to end the inning. The Tides threatened in the bottom of the fifth when Michael Aubrey doubled to lead off the inning and advanced to third when Joey Gathright delivered a two out single.  However both were left stranded when Harrell struck out Robert Andino for his third strike out of the inning.

The few the Proud the “Bitter Enders”

The Knights went back to work in the top of the sixth scoring three more runs beginning with a leadoff single by C. J. Retherford. Mitchell then got Javier Castillo to fly out to right but gave up a single to Rob Hudson which advanced Retherford to second. Brent Lillibridge then doubled to deep right scoring Retherford and putting runners on second and third with only one out.  Mitchell then intentionally walked Jordan Danks and struck out Gartrell.  Josh Kroeger then hit a ground ball to deep second which Scott Moore made a great spot but was unable to get the out and both Hudson and Lillibridge.  Tyler flowers was retired by Mitchell on a ground ball to second which hit the bag and popped up allowing Michael Aubrey to make the play and possibly save an extra base hit.  The Tides went down in order in the bottom half of the inning as a heavy swirling mist began to come down driving off almost all remaining fans.

In the seventh Mitchell gave up singles to Viciedo and Retherford but got Javier Castillo to ground into a double play and stuck out Rob Hudson.  In the bottom of the 7th the Tides scored their only run of the game after Justin Cassell came in to relieve Harrell.  Josh Bell struck out to begin the inning and the sharp eye of Michael Aubrey gained him a base on balls. Rhyne Hughes singled to right advancing Aubrey to second. Catcher Adam Donachie walked and Joey Gathright hit into a force which scored Aubrey and Robert Andino grounded out to end the inning.

Another One Bites the Dust…Rhyne Hughes grounds out

The Knights went quietly in the 9th with Mitchell giving up a single to Jordan Danks as did the Tides who went down in order.

Frank Mata came in to replace Mitchell in the top of the ninth and promptly hit Tyler Flowers with a pitch.  Dayan Viciedo walked and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Retherford then popped out to Robert Andino. Javier Castillo reached on a fielder’s choice when Scott Moore took the ball and caught Flowers between third and home.  Moore ran across the diamond to make the play on the third base line.  Robert Hudson then was out on a foul tip after fouling off two balls into my hands behind home plate.  Not a bad haul for Padre Steve.  In the bottom half of the inning the Knights brought in Clevelan Santeliz to finish off the hapless Tides taking them down in order to end the game.

In all the Knights had 6 runs on 16 hits and left 12 men on base. The Tides scored 1 run on 6 hits leaving 7 on base.  Knight’s pitchers struck out 11 Tides in the game with Lucas Harrell getting the win and Chris Tillman the loss.  The two teams will play Wednesday afternoon with Jake Arrieta pitching for the Tides and Knights ace and White Sox prospect Carlos Torres facing each other.  I won’t be there as I have to work.  Such is life.  Wish I could see you there.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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