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Tides Drop Final Two Games in Durham Finish Season 67-77

Former Tides Outfielder Nolan Reimold now in Baltimore homered on Tuesday as the Orioles defeated the Yankees 6-2

The Norfolk Tides entered Sunday with a five game winning streak hoping to finish the season on a winning note by defeating their International League South nemesis the Durham Bull’s.  The Tides had taken the first game of the series 7-6 on Saturday behind the hitting of Third Baseman Scott Moore with Frank Mata getting the win in relief.

On Sunday the Tides sent Armando Gabino to the and the right hander making a spot start had a 5-3 lead when he came out of the game at the end of the 5th inning. Kam Mickolio pitched two innings. In the 7th Kam sent the Bulls down in order but in the 8th game up a walk and a single and was replaced on the hill by closer Dennis Sarfate who has set down the opposition like clockwork with 20 saves this season.  However Sunday the usually reliable Sarfate, who has pitched the Tides out of numerous jams in the late innings did not have a good day. After striking out Kyle Holloway, Sarfate gave up a triple to Tide Killer Elliott Johnson to score both runs which were charged to Mickolio.  With the score tied and Johnson on third base intentionally walked the hot hitting Chris Richard to get to Joe Dillon. Dillon hit a sacrifice fly ball to center which scored Johnson to give the Bulls a 6-5 lead before Leslie Anderson grounding into a force out to end the inning. In the top of the 9th innings the Tides got Jeff Salazar aboard on a two out single but Michael Aubrey struck out on a long at bat against Joe Bateman to end the game. Sarfate (2-2, 20S 2.73 ERA) got the loss and Bateman (7-0 1.66 ERA) got the win for the Bulls.  The Tides outhit the Bulls but came up short having 5 runs on 10 hits with 1 error leaving 8 men on base. The Bulls 6 runs on 6 hits with no errors leaving 3 aboard.

On Sunday the Tides suffered another disappointing 12 inning loss to the Bulls. The Tides sent Tim Bascom who of late had pitched very well against the Bulls but the young right-hander was roughed up giving up 5 runs on 11 hits in 5.2 innings work. Tides relievers Pat Egan and Jim Hoey held the Bulls as did Mike Hinckley who pitched three innings but gave up a leadoff double to Justin Ruggiano in the bottom of the 12th inning. Ruggiano advanced to 3rd on a sacrifice bunt by Nevin Ashley. Hinckley then intentionally walked Joe Dillon before giving up the game winning single to Leslie Anderson.  Hinckley (1-4 4.19 ERA) who pitched well got the loss for the Tides in his first appearance after coming off of the DL while Paul Phillips (1-0 1.69 ERA) picked up the win for the Bulls. The Tides had 5 runs on 12 hits with 2 errors leaving 8 runners stranded.  The Bulls had 6 runs on 17 hits with 1 error leaving 12 men on base.

Former Tide Jake Arrieta got the Win in Yankee Stadium Tuesday

The Tides finished the year tied with Charlotte for 3rd in the IL South with 67-77 records.  The day following the game the Orioles called up Troy Patton.  On Monday and Tuesday the Orioles defeated the New York Yankees in New York with former Tides figuring in the wins especially on Tuesday as Jake Arrieta got the win aided by a home run by Nolan Reimold and some outstanding defense including that of Robert Andino at shortstop.

In the coming days and weeks I will do some analysis of the Tides 2010 season.   I will miss this year’s Tides players many of whom that I gave come to know over the past two years. The Orioles have stated that the off season will be very active and that will certainly affect the careers of some of these young men that I count as friends.  It is my hope and prayer that they will all continue in baseball and make the Majors at some point be it with the Orioles or another organization. Some of those that are getting older may not continue but I hope that they too will be able to remain in baseball in the professional or collegiate ranks managing, coaching or scouting as so many others have done.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides lose in Durham 1-0 Tuesday but break Skid Wednesday with 6-2 win over Bulls

Troy Patton pitched well but again came away with a loss as he had little in the way of hitting support

Once again a Tides pitcher pitched a great game and the team played great defense and once again the Norfolk Tides lost to the Durham Bulls, the 6th loss in the last 6 games to the IL South Champion Bulls.  Troy Patton only gave up only 4 hits and three walks striking out 7 but gave up one earned run in the 4th inning when Justin Ruggiano led off with a single. Troy then hit both Chris Richard and Rocco Baldelli trying to pitch them in to load the bases. Dioner Navarro then hit a sacrifice fly to score Ruggiano for the only run of the game.  Troy would complete 6.1 innings and had the Tides been able to produce runs would have likely had won the game.

The Tides had a chance in the 2nd inning when Nolan Reimold singled and was cut down at the plate trying to score from first on a Lou Montanez double. The Tides left two men aboard in the top of the 5th and scattered others throughout the game but could not plate a runner.  Bulls’ starter Richard De Los Santos pitched 6.2 innings giving up 6 hits, walking 2 and striking out 4 Tides. The relief pitchers for both teams shut down the other team and the game ended with Durham winning 1-0.  De Los Santos (15-5 3.42 ERA) got the win and Patton (7-11 4.67 ERA) took the loss while Winston Abreu notched his 21st save. The Bulls had 1 run on 6 hits and 2 errors leaving 7 men on base. The Tides had no runs on 6 hits and no errors leaving 7 runners stranded.  Once again it was a case of the Bulls taking advantage of opponent’s mistakes, in this case the two hit batters in the 4th to get the win.

Both Troy Patton and Pat Egan pitched very well allowing only the 1 run and 6 hits between them. Both pitchers have pitched well recently but have not gotten the breaks, sometimes due to errors in the field by Tides players or by a lack of hitting as was the case Tuesday.

Zach Britton threw an excellent game to get the win against Durham on Wednesday night

On Wednesday Zach Britton pitched a strong six innings to get a win over the Bulls aided by some good hitting, especially a grand slam home run in the 2nd inning by Blake Davis.  It looked early like Britton might be off to a rough outing after giving up a two out single to Justin Ruggiano and home run to Chris Richard giving a the Bulls an early 2-0 lead. That lead disappeared in the second when the Tides scored the four runs when Nolan Reimold, Lou Montanez and Brandon Snyder singled to load the bases and Blake Davis in his first at bat after coming off the DL taking Bulls starter Ramon Ortiz yard on the 7th pitch of the at bat.  The Tides picked up another run in the top of the 3rd inning when Nolan Reimold doubled to drive Jeff Salazar home.  The score would remain 5-2 until the top of the 7th when the Tides scored again with a leadoff walk to Matt Angle followed by singles to Robert Andino and Jeff Salazar, whose hit drove in Angle to give the Tides a 6-2 lead.

Blake Davis’ Grand Slam Home Run in the 2nd Inning powered the Tides to Victory

Britton and relievers Kam Mickolio, Alberto Castillo and Frank Mata all pitched well giving up just the 2 runs on 9 hits walking 2 and striking out 7.  These pitchers all deserved this after the past 6 games where so many of their efforts went unrewarded.  Tides hitters uncorked on the Bulls pitching staff with the 6 runs on 12 hits.  Lou Montanez and Jeff Salazar both doubled for the Tides but it was Blake Davis’ Grand Slam home run that capped a great night for the Tides who broke a 6 game losing streak to the Bulls, a streak that easily could have been at least a series 4-3 or 3-4 split. Zach Britton (3-3 3.09 ERA) got the win for the Tides and Ramon Ortiz (2-4 4.07 ERA) took the loss for the Bulls.

Chris Tillman will pitch tonight in Charlotte against the Knights

The Tides road trip continues tomorrow in Charlotte for a 2 game series against the Knights but as of 10:00 AM today the starting pitchers have not been announced.  Chris Tillman (10-7 3.29 ERA) will start for the Tides going up against Freddy Dolsi (2-6 5.42 ERA) for the Knights.

In personnel moves Scott Moore suffering a partially collapsed lung was taken to hospital on Tuesday night and is now on the 7 Day DL with Blake Davis being activated. In Chicago the Orioles doubled up the White Sox with Brian Matusz getting the win.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Pitcher’s Duel Baker Versus Tillman: Tides Lose 1-0

Chris Tillman pitched a 2 hitter through 7 innings striking out 8 but had a no decision in the Tides loss Saturday night

The Norfolk Tides and Durham Bulls played one of the most tension filled games at Harbor Park this season. Fans were treated to the best pitcher’s duel that has been seen here all season as Chris Tillman pitched a tremendous game against Brian Baker of the Bulls who put on a show in his own right.

Justin Ruggiano doubles to drive in the only run of the game

Tillman pitched 7 innings allowing no runs and just 2 hits striking out 8 and walking two Bulls.  Baker allowed no runs and only one hit while striking out 4 and walking 4 Tides.  The only run of the game came in the top of the 8th inning when Kam Mickolio in to relieve Tillman struck out struck out Fernando Perez and then gave up a single to Desmond Jennings.  He then struck out Elliott Johnson and with two outs with Justin Ruggiano batting Jennings stole second base.  Ruggiano then hit a ground rule double which bounced over the right field fence to drive in Jennings.  Mickolio then retired Chris Richard to end the inning.  The Tides managed nothing in the 8th and Mickolio very efficiently put the Bulls down in order in the 9th.

Michael Aubrey’s 2 out Double in the bottom of the 9th nearly cleared the right field fence

The Tides attempted a comeback in the bottom of the 9th. With2 outs and no one on base Michael Aubrey came up as a pinch hitter and drove a ball deep into right field which looked like it would be a home run. It was not striking about a foot from the top of the fence and Aubrey was in with a double. The rally came to an end though one batter later when Winston Abreu stuck out Brandon Snyder to end the game.

The Bulls had 1 run on 4 hits with no errors and the Tides no runs on 2 hits with one error.  Brian Baker (8-4 3.34 ERA) got the win while Kam Mickolio (3-3 6.67 ERA) got the loss. Winston Abreu picked up his 20th save and second in two days.  The teams meet tonight with Tim Bascom (2-7 8.01 ERA) on the hill for the Tides and Bobby Livingston (0-0 13.50 ERA) up for the Bulls. Earlier in the season Livingston had pitched for Buffalo where he was 3-8 with a 5.34 ERA.

Up in Baltimore yesterday the Orioles defeated the Rangers 8-6 hitting 4 home runs against Cliff Lee, the most that Lee has given up in a game. Two of those came from former Tide Josh Bell who drove in 5 RBIs. Bell was hitting in the 9th spot and it was the first time since 1920 that an Oriole hitter in that spot had hit two home runs in a game.

The game begins at 6:15 this evening and rain could be a factor.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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All Star Break Norfolk Tides Wrap Up

Armando Gabino has been an excellent spot starter and middle reliever for the Tides on Sunday he picked up his 5th win against the powerful Durham Bulls

The Norfolk Tides played the Durham Bulls much better in the friendly confines of Harbor Park than they did in Durham last week splitting a pair where they could easily have won both games.  On Saturday the Bulls and Tides played a very even game that had both teams with 12 hits the difference being a 3 run 5th inning where the Bulls had three consecutive singles to load the bases on Tides starter Chris George and despite a double play would manufacture 3 runs against George.  The Tides did not help their own causes despite the number of hits given up by Durham pitchers leaving the bases loaded in the 1st, 3rd and 5th innings.  In all the Tides would strand 14 runners, 9 in scoring position with two outs mostly because the bottom third of the batting order which had recently getting very clutch hits went 2 for 12 with two walks, both hits coming from the bat of Blake Davis.  In addition to Davis Matt Angle, Jeff Salazar and Nolan Reimold all had multiple hit games with Reimold connecting on his 6th home run, a solo shot in the 7th inning off of Bulls reliever Michael Eckstrom.

Andy Mitchell did an excellent job in middle relief in a losing effort Saturday night

A tide pitching with the exception of the 5th inning was very good and even in the 5th inning it was a successive collection of quirky hits that got Chris George in trouble.  George (4-4 4.36 ERA) got the loss going 4.2 innings giving up 4 runs on 8 hits walking 1 and striking out 4. Andy Mitchell gave up 1 run on 4 hits in 3.1 innings of work.  Mitchell needs to be given credit; he has come in on a number of occasions this year and pitched 3-5 innings of solid relief which has saved some of the other members of the bullpen from being used up after multiple games of relief.  Andy has made the transition from starting pitcher to reliever and continues to improve. He is not young anymore but in the right spots he has what it takes to be the man to stand in the gap so to speak to give his team mates in the bullpen badly needed rest.

Robert Andino singles in the 3rd inning on Sunday against Durham

The Bulls as I said had 12 hits with several players having multiple hit games. Among them was Angel Chavez who went 2-4 with 2 RBIs and Joe Dillon who also went 2-4 with two doubles, one each of George and Mitchell and 1 RBI.  Apart from Dillon the Tides pitchers allowed no other extra base hits to the very powerful Bulls offense.  Michael Eckstrom (4-1 2.61 ERA) got the win in relief for the Bulls and Winston Abreu got his 11th save of the campaign.  The Bulls had 5 runs on 12 hits and no errors leaving 9 men stranded.  The Tides had 3 runs on 12 hits with 1 error leaving 14 men on base.

Matt Angle scores a key run in the 7th inning

On Sunday Armando Gabino made a spot start for the Tides as Bobby Dickerson juggled his pitching staff with the departure of Chris Tillman to Baltimore and Chris George and Andy Mitchell both added back to the Tides roster.  Gabino has been very effective both as a middle reliever where he began the year as well as in spot starts and was so again going 6.1 innings giving up no runs and only 3 hits striking out 4 and walking none.  Alberto Castillo pitched an inning of scoreless relief but Pat Egan who game in with 1 out in the top of the 8th was crushed by a hit starved Durham lineup giving up 4 runs on 3 hits and a walk, one of the hits being a 3 run home run by Justin Ruggiano and a ground rule double to Dan Johnson with 1 out in the top of the 9th.  Denis Sarfate came in to get the last two outs, a double play to end the inning and the game.

Chris Tillman and Jake Arietta both won against the Rangers this weekend


Alfredo Simon went from Tides Starter to Orioles Closer

Tides hitters had 8 hits and a walk with the damage to Bulls pitching coming in the bottom of the 3rd inning and bottom of the 7th inning using small ball, a collection of 3 singles, a walk and a couple of fielder’s choice situations which netted the Tides runs.  In the bottom of the 7th it was a leadoff double by Blake Davis as well as singles by Matt Angle and Robert Andino to score two more runs without which Durham may have just won the game despite the pitching of Gabino.  Gabino held the Bulls down but once again the Bulls showed just how good that they are in the 9th inning rally that came close to stealing the game from the Tides.

Gabino got the win and Denis Sarfate got his 11th save of the season.  Bulls starter Carlos Hernandez (6-5 4.09 ERA) took the loss.  The Bulls had 4 runs on 7 hits with no errors leaving 2 aboard. The Tides had 5 runs on 8 hits and no errors leaving 4 runners stranded.

The Tides will not play again until Thursday when the teams return to action following the AAA All-Star Game break; the All-Star game will be played at Coca Cola Field in Allentown PA, the home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs with Jeff Salazar on the roster for the Tides.  Chris Tillman was also named to the squad but was removed following his call up to Baltimore.

The Tides go into the break with a record of 42 wins and 50 losses in last place in the International League South. They are half a game behind the Gwinnett Braves who are 42-49 and 5 games behind Charlotte who have a record of 45-47.  Right now no one is contending with Durham, the Bull’s leading not only the Southern Division but the International League with a record of 55 wins and 35 losses.  The biggest challenge will be consistence and experience for the Tides as the Orioles still with many injuries to key players will continue to rely on the Tides for replacements the remainder of the season.  However, the Orioles are starting to look better being 12 and 12 since June 15th sweeping a four game set with the Western Division leading Texas Rangers in Arlington in the series prior to the break and it is possible that they could finish the season, even if a losing one with a measure of respectability as the team seems to be coming together with a lot of great performances by former Tides Corey Patterson, Jason Berken and Alfredo Simon.  Additionally Chris Tillman and Jake Arietta both had excellent starts in against Texas having back to back wins for the first time since they played for the Tides.

Tomorrow a look at the Major Leagues as I analyze the first half of the season and prognosticate about the second half that begins after the All-Star break including my post season picks. I have never tried to pick this far out so we will see how good I am.  Don’t forget my record in the 2009 playoffs and World’s Series was pretty impressive, especially my game by game World Series predictions.

Peace, Padre Steve+

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Tides Dumped 7-2 by Bulls but Patterson and Simon Shine for O’s in Comeback Win against Rangers

Jim Miller continued to show composure under pressure in sending down the heart of the Bulls order in the 6th inning

The Norfolk Tides lost their second straight to division leading Durham who are by the way the best team in the International League as well as the division leader.  The Bulls defeated the Tides by a score of 7-2 on a hot and humid Friday night in Durham.  The Tides were held scoreless by Bulls starter Virgil Vasquez (4-0 3.55 ERA) and middle reliever Dale Thayer for 8 innings.  During those first 8 innings the Tides had 8 hits and loaded the bases in the 7th inning but failed to score.

Chris Tillman was recalled to the Orioles and will start against the Rangers tonight

While Bulls pitchers closed down the Tides offense the Bulls worked over Tides starter Tim Bascom (2-3 5.87 ERA) who gave up 5 runs, 4 of which were earned on 7 hits in 4.1 innings work.  Jim Miller came on in middle relief and got the Tides out of the 5th inning and then got in early trouble in the 6th but after giving up a run and having 2 men on base struck out Tides killers Elliott Johnson and Justin Ruggiano finishing the inning by getting Dan Johnson to fly out.  It was a case of Miller keeping his composure against the Durham offense which leads the league in hitting despite getting in trouble. Though he gave up a run the performance shows that Miller is on his way to becoming an excellent all round relief pitcher that can pitch in any situation.  Pat Egan also gave up a run while Armando Gabino closed out the Bulls in the 8th when they were threatening again.

With the score 7-0 in the top of the 9th it appeared that the Tides were on their way to being shut out and sent home, but they did not quit and got a rally of sorts going as Paco Figueroa and Blake Davis had back to back home runs off of Bulls reliever Darin Downs and had a runner on base before Robert Andino grounded out to end the game.

The game was not the best for the Tides in fact the failure to score early and Bascom’s lack of success being clearly overmatched by the Bulls’ offense ensured that they would not win this game. On the positive side the performance of Jim Miller who despite getting in trouble in the top of the 6th was able to keep his composure and mow down the heart of the Bulls order was a positive take away as were the two home runs by Figueroa and Davis in the 9th inning.

Alfredo Simon notched his 12th save following Corey Patterson’s Grand Slam in the 9th and Jake Fox’s solo shot in the 10th in the O’s comeback win against the Rangers on Friday Night

Tonight the teams meet again this time in the friendly confines of Harbor Park with Brian Baker (7-0 2.50 ERA) taking the hill for the Bulls against a yet unannounced Tides starter. Chris Tillman who was the scheduled starter was recalled by the Orioles and it would be my guess that either Chris George or Andy Mitchell could be brought back to the team or that Armando Gabino could reprise his starting role where he had success the last time that Tillman was called up by the O’s.

Speaking of the Orioles for the second night in a row they had a 9th inning comeback and stunned the powerful Texas Rangers.  Last night behind by a score of 6-2 the Orioles loaded the bases and with two outs former Tides outfielder Corey Patterson went yard against one of the best closers in the league, All-Star rookie closer Neftali Feliz for a grand slam home run which tied the game. In the 10th Jake Fox newly acquired from the Athletics in a deal which sent Tides reliever Ross Wolf to the A’s homered to give the Tides the lead and former Tides starter and now Orioles closer Alfredo Simon came in to send the Rangers down in order for his 12th save of the year. Jason Berken (2-0 2.01 ERA) got the win for the O’s. Chris Tillman will start for the O’s tonight in Arlington and we hope that he will get his first Major League win of the year against the Rangers after pitching so well for the Tides.  The Orioles are evaluating catcher Matt Wieters and outfielder Felix Pie after both incurred injuries in the game. If one or both end up on the DL Josh Bell will likely remain in Baltimore instead of returning to Norfolk and conceivably outfielder Jeff Salazar could be called up to fill in for Pie.

With the Tides back in town yours truly will be at the Church of Baseball, Harbor Park Parish to be there to record the action and enjoy the game.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Bulls Stomp Tides 11-3 in First Game of Series

Zack Clark was rung up for 6 runs on Thursday

After beating the daylights out of the Gwinnett Braves on Wednesday the Norfolk Tides had the favor repaid by the International League Southern Division leading Durham Bulls who seem to have a penchant for stomping the stuffings out of most of the teams that they play.   Thursday night was a brutal reminder of how deep the Tampa Bay farm system is and what they have in reserve down in Durham.

The Bulls manhandled Tides pitching. Starter Zack Clark (0-4 5.06 ERA) lasted but 3.2 innings giving up 6 runs on 10 hits including a two run home run to Elliott Johnson, 2 doubles to Justin Ruggiano and a double to Chris Richard.  Mike Hinckley came in and pitched 2.1 innings momentarily halting the massacre only giving up 1 run on 3 hits.  The slaughter continued as Cla Meredith who has performed miserably since his demotion from Baltimore gave up 3 runs on 3 hits along with 2 walks in an innings work and saw his Earned Run Average creep back up to 12.91.  Closer Alberto Castillo was tagged for an 8th inning home run by Justin Ruggiano.  Meredith was dropped from the 40 man roster when he was designated for assignment in May by the Orioles and we all hoped that he would recover and do good things and work his way back to the majors.  This has not happened and it is time that the Orioles give him his outright release and bring Chris George or Andy Mitchell back to the Tides lineup.  As for Clark he is still learning at the AAA level, one hopes that he will learn what he needs to from this thumping and not let it affect his next start.  However Clark has been up and down the Orioles minor league system a number of times since being signed in 2006 including 2 prior trips to Norfolk so one has to wonder if Clark has reached his limit.  I do not know if he has but it certainly is a valid question to ask as Clark had played in College before coming into the Baltimore system and while he has a passable career ERA he does not have a history of being a consistent winner.  Castillo only gave up one run but it was a long ball and though only having two really bad outings has not been the same as he was last year.  He is now 35 years old, has been in professional ball 16 years, it is possible that he is running out of gas and no amount of heart and determination will keep you in the game when nothing is left in the tank.  Being an old guy in a young person’s organization I have a soft spot for guys like Castillo that are still plugging away when their best years appear to be behind them, it takes a lot to go out day after day when things hurt and don’t get better quickly and you know that the fastball doesn’t quite have the same zip that it once had the legs tell you that they feel like lead.  I’d like to see Castillo do well and get that one last shot in the majors, a time where the sun can shine upon him in the twilight of his career and he can go out a winner.  Of course I want the same for guys like Chris George who has not had a bad season and even Andy Mitchell who was shifted to the relief role and has had some good outings after a rough start to the season.  George was sent to Bowie and Mitchell appears to be back on the Tides “taxi squad” officially assigned to Aberdeen but apparently with the team.

On the offensive side of the house it looked like the Tides would match up well scoring 3 runs on 3 hits in the top of the 2nd inning, however after the 2nd inning the Tides would muster only 4 more hits.  Michael Aubrey and Jonny Tucker each had doubles while Tucker and Blake Davis each had 2 hits in the game.  The Tides also left 11 men on base which means that they did not capitalize on the hits that they got or the walks and errors committed by Durham.  The teams meet today with Tim Bascom (2-2 5.47 ERA) on the hill for the Tides and Virgil Vasquez (3-0 4.44 ERA) pitching for the Bulls.

Until next time,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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