“The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.” Earl Weaver
The Norfolk Tides lost their 5th straight falling to the Buffalo Bisons in a Sunday afternoon slugfest in which for the third time in three games they collected what should have been enough hits and runs to win. In fact today of the 8 runs scored by the Bisons 3 were unearned coming as the result of poor fielding and throwing by Tides infielders in particular a top of the 8th inning error where shortstop Robert Andino ran past what would have been an easy double play ball off the bat of former Norfolk Tides infielder Justin Turner that scored two runs at a point that the Tides were ahead in the game. The runs gave the Bisons a lead that they would not relinquish and seal the fate of the Tides on this blistering hot Sunday afternoon.
Tides starting pitcher Chris George gave up 5 runs, 4 of which were earned in 5.2 innings work and Zack Clark so new to the team from AA Bowie that he went out in a jersey without his name affixed to it gave up 3 runs in 2.1 innings of which only 1 was an earned run. Ross Wolf pitched the 9th inning coming in with two on and two out. He got J R House out while trying to bunt and made an excellent play to field the ball and throw out Valentino Pascucci at third. He then got Jesus Feliciano to ground into a double play to end the inning.
The big damage to the Tides came from the extremely potent Buffalo offense. For once the Bisons’ parent organization the New York Mets has invested in putting experienced and potent offensive force together despite a dearth of young prospects. The Bisons pack a huge offensive punch including Mike Hessman the all-time Minor League home run king but the Chief Tides basher has been Mike Jacobs who has beaten Tides pitching about in a rude and nearly ruthless manner over the past two days as well as former Tides catcher J R House who today had a home run, double plating 3 of the Bisons runs.
However if there is a silver lining in the past three games it is for the first time this season the Tides seem to be hitting the ball consistently using both contact and power to make things happen. The Tides picked up their first run in the bottom of the 2nd inning one singles by Rhyne Hughes, Brandon Snyder and Michel Hernandez. The Bisons collected two in the top of the 3rd inning when Andy Green reached on an error J R House doubled and Jesus Feliciano singled to drive in both Green and House.
The Tides tied the score in the bottom of the 4th as Rhyne Hughes and Brandon Snyder singled and Michel Hernandez sacrificed to right field to score Hughes. Buffalo then scored 3 runs in the top frame of the 6th driving Tides starter Chris George out of the game and it was as the sage Earl Weaver mentioned, the part about the three run home runs as J R House clubbed a three run homer off of George with one out. However the Tides did not roll over and die as they had in so many games earlier in the season and in the bottom of the 7th the now scrappy Tides offense plated 4 runs. Michel Hernandez, Blake Davis and Matt Angle singled to load the bases. Robert Andino then hit into a double play but Hernandez scored. Jeff Salazar then hit a 2 run home run off of Pat Misch to tie the game. Nolan Reimold and Rhyne Hughes singled and Brandon Snyder singled to drive in Reimold before Blake Davis grounded out to end the inning.
In the top of the 8th the Bisons took the lead when Robert Andino missed what looked to be an easy grounder that easily could have been a double play, the ball rolled into short left field and two runs scored and the Bisons were back in the lead and add an insurance run in the 9th to make the final score 8-6.
The Bisons scored 8 runs on 11 hits with 1 error and 11 men left on base. The Tides 6 runs on 15 hits and 4 errors leaving 8 on base including 5 left in scoring position with 2 outs.
While the Tides offense has come alive the pitching has been weak and they were not helped by four errors which allowed three unearned runs. In spite of this the Tides are showing signs of life under Interim Manager Bobby Dickerson who took on an umpiring crew that made three obviously bad calls that cost the Tides runs the most egregious being a hit by J R House in the top of the 2nd which should have been a foul ball that was ruled fair and went for a double, a force at second in the top of the 8th which the 2nd base umpire ruled that second baseman Blake Davis who was plowed over at second had been pulled off the bag. Later in the 8th Mike Hessman was ruled hit by a pitch which had all the marking of a ball that hit the bat before striking him. The last call got Dickerson tossed by Home Plate Umpire Chris Conroy. Dickerson does not just manage but he leads and appears to inspire. Players that have not been performing have been benched and for the first time in recent memory the Tides took infield practice on a game day. What appears to be the new mantra in the Orioles organization is accountability and chemistry. Things are not better yet but if I were the Orioles I would make Dickerson the permanent manager of the Tides tomorrow. It takes time to get the pitching right and I do not see a quick fix to that with the probability that Arietta will be in Baltimore possibly within the week, however it appears that he is bringing some discipline and order back to a team that has a lot of talent but not achieved the success that it is capable of accomplishing. It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming days and weeks as Andy McPhail and the Orioles begin to make the hard choices regarding players and ultimately who will remain in Baltimore and on the 40 man roster.
The Orioles defeated the Red Sox today at Camden Yards 4-3 in 11 innings with David Hernandez getting his first win of the season in relief.
The final game of the season series between the Bisons and Tides will be on Monday at 12:15 as Troy Patton (3-7, 5.73 ERA) will take the hill for the Tides against former Tide Bobby Livingston (2-5, 4.18 ERA).