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.
Chris George provide 6 innings of solid pitching for the Tides
The Norfolk Tides finished their home stand in convincing fashion defeating the Gwinnett Braves by a score of 4-3 on a beautiful night for baseball at the Church of Baseball Harbor Park Parish. Chris George of the Tides faced off against Jo-Jo Reyes and tonight would belong to the Tides Left hander backed up by solid relief work by Kam Mickolio, Ross Wolf and closer Denis Sarfate.
Brandon Hicks gets himself thrown out of the game in the 2nd inning
The Braves got off to a 1-0 lead in the first inning without a single hit as Chris George initially struggled with control walking Matt Young and Wes Timmons before getting Freddie Freeman to hit into a double play. Young advanced to third on the play and scored when a balk was called on George. In the second inning the Braves threatened and were shut down by the Tides and in the process having their Manager Dave Brundage and Brandon Hicks thrown out of the game. Mitch Jones doubled and advanced to third on a single by Brandon Hicks. Jordan Schafer reached first when on a fielder’s choice ground ball Tides First Baseman Brandon Snyder alertly saw Jones attempting to score and gunned him down at the plate. Brandon Hicks then with Luis Bolivar batting attempted to steal third and was thrown out by Tides Catcher Michel Hernandez. This was a close call and Braves Manager Dave Brundage fiercely argued the call with Hicks. Both were thrown out of the game after a delay of about 5 minutes. Bolivar then grounded out to end the inning.
J C Boscan attempts to pick off a Tides runner at 2nd base as Matt Angle attempts to get out of the way
In the bottom half of the 2nd inning the Tides struck back with the suddenness of a thunder storm. Rhyne Hughes reached on a fielding error by Braves First Baseman Freddie Freeman. The next batter, Brandon Snyder then crushed a pitch over the left field wall deep into the left field picnic area. Michael Aubrey grounded out to Jo-Jo Reyes and it appeared with the bottom part of the Tides lineup coming to bat that he might escape with no more damage. However that was not the case as Tides Catcher Michel Hernandez lifted a ball to the opposite field send the pitch into the Straub’s Beer right field party deck to make the score 3-1. In the bottom of the 3rd inning Robert Andino cracked his 17th double of the year with one out and scored on a single by Jeff Salazar. The Braves plated another run in the top of the 4th inning when Mitch Jones scored from 2nd base on a Luis Bolivar single.
Michel Hernandez got his first home run in Norfolk
Kam Mickolio came into the game in the 7th in relief of George and after allowing a single to Luis Bolivar to lead off the inning got J C Boscan to ground into a 5-4-3 double play and then struck out Matt Young on a 96 mile and hour fast ball. Ross Wolf came into the game in the 8th and working quickly got Wes Timmons and Freddie Freeman to ground out and Barbaro Canizares to pop out to end the inning. Denis Sarfate came in to close the game and got Mitch Jones to fly out and then on a low and inside off speed pitch saw Joe Thurston who had replaced Hicks when the latter was tossed in the 2nd inning lift the ball just over the right field wall near the foul pole for a solo home run. Sarfate wasted nothing else and using high hard heat with every pitch in the mid-90’s blew away Alex Romero and Luis Bolivar to end the game.
The Braves had 3 runs on 8 hits and 1 costly error and left 5 men on base. The Tides had 4 runs on 8 hits and no errors leaving 6 on base. Chris George (2-1 3.63) got the win and Jo-Jo Reyes (0-4 5.40) took the loss for the Braves. Denis Sarfate got his 7th save. Tonight after a long bus ride west the Tides take on the Columbus Clippers, the AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians who lead the International League West. Troy Patton (4-7 5.13) will take the hill for the Tides facing Josh Tomlin (5-2 2.89). In personnel news the Orioles outrighted relief pitcher Alberto Castillo to Norfolk in what seems an endless roller coaster for the left hander. It was announced as well that Bobby Valentine, Padre Steve’s choice for the permanent managerial post for the Orioles since last season interviewed with Peter Angelos and Andy McPhail yesterday. If you are an Orioles fan you have to hope that Bobby V will join the Orioles after all one can only hope and after all of the suffering with no name managers through most of the decade it is time that we have a marquis manager with a winning attitude and skill working with young talent, and Bobby V fits the bill.
The Tides finished the home stand with a 4 and 4 record which is remarkable if one remembers that the first three games of the series were lost in slugfests to the Buffalo Bisons. The remarkable thing about the Tides right now is the change that I have seen on the field in the past week. Hitters are more aggressive, the base running is more aggressive, infielders are communicating better, pitchers are challenging hitters and the team is playing as a team with every member in the game even if they are not on the field. It has been a remarkable sea change and it looks like the Tides are rolling in and might turn into a Tsunami to wreak havoc on the southern division of the International League.