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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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Paybacks are Hell: Bulls Pound Tides 14-7, Orioles fall to A’s slip to 1 and 10

Troy Patton (0-2) got the Loss

On a warm spring evening in Durham the Durham Bulls bats repaid last Friday’s 12-6 drubbing by the Tides in spades scoring 14 runs on 20 hits and aided by 3 Tides errors.  It seems that the Tides pitchers are either very good or very bad on any given day.  They are either hot or cold and definitely not Lukewarm which at least is one positive as Jesus will not spew them out of his mouth see Revelation 3:16 but I theologically digress. The point is that Tides pitching is awesome or atrocious. Last night was a case in point.  Starter Troy Patton was pounded for six runs on six hits including home runs by Joe Dillon and Ryan Shealy and a walk in the bottom of the first retiring only one batter before being pulled for Armondo Gabino. Gabino settled things down giving up just one run on four hits in 3.2 innings work.  Patton has struggled in his first two starts and one hopes that working with pitching Coach Mike Griffin that he will be able to turn things around.

In the top of the third inning the Tides bats came to life as the Tides scored two runs. Robert Andino reached on an error by Bulls Third Baseman Angel Chavez and was driven in by Joey Gathright’s triple. Gathright would then score on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Salazar.  In the top of the fourth inning Rhyne Hughes extended his hitting streak to eight games with a triple. Josh Bell drove in Hughes with a single to center and would score on a double to left by Robert Andino.  Catcher Steve Lerud doubled in Andino and the Tides were back in the game at 7-5.

In the bottom of the fifth however the Bulls would come back and score two more runs off of reliever Andy Mitchell who since his return to the team has not had the same effectiveness as he had in previous years when he served in the starting rotation. It is possible that the switch to middle relief has throw him out of his comfort zone but I think with a bit of time that he will adjust to that role and be an effective middle reliever.  Right now however Andy is struggling and being hit hard by his opponents.  After getting Dan Johnson to ground out Mitchell gave up back to back doubles to Ryan Shealy and Angel Chavez with Chavez’s hit bringing Shealy home.  Alvin Colina singled to send Chavez to third and Fernando Perez hit into a force out which brought in Chavez.  Mitchell then got out of the inning without further damage.  Rhyne Hughes led off the top of the sixth by reaching on an error by Angel Chavez. He advanced to second on a ground out to first by Josh bell and to third on Robert Andino’s infield single to second.  With runners at the corners Steve Lerud singled to right to drive in Hughes. Joey Gathright struck out swinging to end the inning.

The Bulls hit parade continued in the bottom of the sixth Mitchell struck out Hank Blalock.  The next batter Joe Dillon reached on a throwing error to first by first baseman Brandon Snyder.  Dan Johnson grounded out to Snyder on a play that should have without the error ended the inning to advance Dillon to second. Ryan Shealy singled to drive in Dillon and the score was now 10 to 1.  Mitchell walked Chavez and Colina to load the bases and with the walk to Colina was done.  Manager Gary Allenson brought in Jim Miller into the game with two outs in the inning.  Fernando Perez then bunted Shealy home before Miller retired Elliott Johnson on a grounder to short. The Tides went down in order to reliever Dale Thayer in the top of the seventh and as the Durham crowd stretched their Bulls were up 13-6 over the visiting Tides.

Durham was not done and struck hard again in the bottom of the seventh. Back to back singles by Justin Ruggiano set up Dan Johnson who homered to left over the Blue Monster. The three run shot was his 4th home run of the year. Miller retired the last two batters to end the inning.

Rhyne Hughes extended his hitting streak to 8 games

The Tides went down in order in the top of the eighth and Miller retired the Bulls in the bottom half of the inning.  In the ninth the Bulls brought in Joaquin Benoit to close the game. The Tides attempted a ninth inning rally as Robert Andino hit his first home run in a Tides uniform but could muster nothing more to end the game.

Normally 7 runs would be enough to win a game if the pitching is good.  Last night that was not the case as each Tides pitcher except Gabino were hit hard by the Bulls’ attack. Bulls starter Virgil Vasquez got the win bring his record to 2-0 and Troy Patton dropped to 0-2 for the year.  The Tides had 7 runs on 9 hits in the loss but Durham was simply overpowering scoring 14 runs on 20 hits aided by 3 Tides errors.  Brandon Erbe (0-1) will start Saturday’s game for the Tides and the Bulls have not announced their starter at the time of this post.

On the west coast the Orioles lost their 9th straight game this time falling to the Athletics at the Oakland Alameda County Coliseum by a score of 4-2.  Starter Kevin Millwood gave up all four Oakland runs giving up 9 hits in six innings.  On the bright side relievers Will Ohman and Matt Albers shut down the A’s allowing no runs or hits to finish the game. The O’s offense was anemic but Ty Wigginton homered in the fifth to produce both Orioles runs.  The O’s offense was 0 for 4 with runners in scoring position and have and last in the league scoring only 10 of 78 runners in scoring position for the season.

The Orioles are looking to end an eight game losing streak in Oakland in which they have been outscored by the A’s 43 to 17.  The losing streak extends back to July 22nd 2007. In today’s match up Jeremy Guthrie (0-2) will face A’s pitcher Justin Duchscherer.

We’ll see what happens today for both the Tides and the Birds.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Fall to Durham 3-2 Split Series with Bulls

Troy Patton pitched well but not well enough getting the loss

The Norfolk Tides nearly pulled off a comeback but fell short on Sunday afternoon in front of a crowd of 4320 on a beautiful April day at Harbor Park. With the sun shining and a light breeze the conditions were ideal for a ball game.  Troy Patton faced Durham’s Virgil Vasquez in a pitching duel.  Patton pitched well giving up only 2 hits but gave up 3 walks which ultimately were decisive in the Bull’s win.

A beautiful day for a ball game

After a scoreless first inning Patton gave up a walk to Ryan Shealy to lead off the inning which was followed by what appeared to be a routine fly ball to right off the bat of Joe Dillon was dropped by right fielder Rhyne Hughes which advanced Shealy to third and allowed Dillon aboard.  Shealy scored on a sacrifice fly to right by Angel Chavez before Patton retired the side.  The Tides went down in order in the bottom half of the second and Patton returned the favor against the Bulls in the third.

The Tides had their first scoring opportunity in the bottom of the third when Rhyne Hughes doubled to left with one out. Adam Donachie walked and the Tides had two on with only one out.  Joey Gathright grounded into a force out with Hughes being out at third. The inning ended on a force out on a ground ball by Robert Andino.

Scott Moore got his first and the Tides first home run of the season

In the fourth inning Patton shut down the Bulls despite allowing a double to Joe Dillon.  Scott Moore hammered a deep home run to right in the bottom of the fourth off Vasquez to tie the game.  Moor who was injured early in 2009 after a strong start appears to have  returned with a vengeance in 2010.

The fifth inning was Durham’s chance to give up what appeared to be an excellent scoring opportunity when Angel Chavez tripled to center when Joey Gathright attempted a diving catch on a dying line drive. The ball got by Gathright and rolled to deep center where Hughes recovered it and delivered it back to the infield.  Patton then bore down on the bulls, striking out Alvin Colina, got Elliott Johnson to fly out softly to shallow right and then to get Fernando Perez to ground out to third on a nice diving stop and throw by Josh Bell.  The Tides then squandered an opportunity in the bottom of the fifth when Michael Aubrey slammed a leadoff double off Vasquez but Hughes flied out while Donachie and Gathright both popped out to end the inning.

Frustration a swing and a miss by Robert Andino

Patton came back out in the top of the sixth but appeared to be tiring. After striking out Rashad Eldridge Patton walked Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Shealy.  Ross Wolf came in to relieve Patton and gave up a double to Joe Dillon which scored Ruggiano. With runners on second and third Chris Richard who had homered Saturday night off of Chris George was given an intentional pass to load the bases to set up the potential double play.  Angel Chavez then sacrificed to right scoring Shealy.  Wolf retired Alvin Colina on a fly to centerfielder Joey Gathright. In the bottom of the inning Scott Moore doubled with 2 outs which resulted in Vasquez being pulled for veteran reliever and former Texas Ranger Joaquin Benoit. Benoit who missed the entire 2009 season after having surgery on a torn rotator cuff was picked up by Tampa Bay in the off season.  Benoit struck out Tides clean up man Brandon Snyder to end the inning.

Wolf held the line in the top of the seventh allowing a two out single to Rashad Eldridge but no runs and Benoit shut down the Tides in order in the bottom half of the inning. Wolf sent the Bulls down in order in the eighth and Winston Abreu came into the game to send the Tides down in order in the bottom half of the inning.

Frank Mata who got the Tides first win of the season Friday came on for the Tides in the 9th getting Angel Chavez, Alvin Colina and Elliott Johnson all to ground out to shortstop Robert Andino.  The Tides finally got something going in the bottom of the ninth.  Lou Montanez and Scott Moore began the inning with consecutive singles.  Brandon Snyder grounded into a force out where Montanez was out at third. Still with runners on first and second the Tides still appeared to be rallying but Josh Bell also hit into a force and Snyder was out at second.  With runners on first and third Michael Aubrey collected his second hit of the day a single to center which scored Moore.  Rhyne Hughes walked and with the ides left 7 runners on base but had 10 in scoring position and only drove one in.  It was a bad day for Tides hitting in that they could not put hits together in key situations with runners in scoring position although they outhit the Bulls 7-4.  It was the walks as well as the error by Hughes that gave the Bulls the winning margin.

One Monday the Charlotte Knights, the AAA affiliate of the Chicago White Sox come into town for a three game series at Harbor Park.  Brandon Erbe will make his AAA debut for the Tides and Dan Hudson a Virginia Beach native who attended Princess Anne High School and Old Dominion University comes home to make his first appearance at Harbor Park.  The game begins at 7:15 the weather is expected to be clear but cool with temperatures in the high 60s at game time and falling off during the evening. See you there.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Tides Crush Bulls 12-3 with a 14 Hit Barrage

Alfredo Simon gets his first Norfolk Start of 2010

On a great night for baseball the Norfolk Tides lit up the night against their nemesis the 2009 Governor’s Cup champion Durham Bulls.  After splitting the first two games in this opening series between the teams the Tides combined outstanding pitching with an offensive display not seen since June of 2009.

Steven Lerud gets out of the way of a David Bennett pitch before walking in the 3rd inning

The Tides attack was led by First Baseman Brandon Snyder who went 2 for 5 and had 3 RBIs two of which came on a 7th inning double and Shortstop Robert Andino who cleared waivers from Baltimore and went 2 for 5 with 3 RBIs.  Left Fielder Lou Montanez drove in 2 as did Right Fielder and former Bull Rhyne Hughes.  Center Fielder Joey Gathright got his first two hits of the season a single and a double and scored two runs.

Chris George got his first win of the 2010 Season

Tides’ pitching was led by newly acquired Alfredo Simon who pitched three innings allowing 3 hits and no runs and was pulled when he reached his pitch count striking out three. Chris George came into the game in relief of Simon in the 4th inning. George gave up 3 runs in 3.2 innings giving up a home run to Chris Richard in the 4th.  He would be relieved by Kam Mickolio in the bottom of the 7th. Mickolio pitched one and an third giving up a hit and two walks.  Dennis Sarfate took down the Bulls in order during the 9th.

The Bulls did not fare so well. Starting pitcher David Bennett went six innings giving up 6 runs on 8 hits. He would be relieved in the 7th by Richard De Los Santos who was hammered for 6 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks.

The Tides began their barrage scoring 5 runs in the bottom of the third after Bennett had gotten the first two Tides out. It began with a four pitch walk to catcher Steven Lerud and followed by a “merry-go-round” on the base paths with Joey Gathright, Robert Andino, Lou Montanez, Scott Moore, Brandon Snyder and Josh Bell all getting base hits before Michael Aubrey grounded out to end the inning.

Brandon Snyder doubles in the 7th

Durham would pick up one on Richard’s home run in the 4th, another in the 5th and a final run in the 7th off of George. Not to be outdone the Tides scored one in the bottom of the sixth when Rhyne Hughes grounded into a fielder’s choice to drive in Brandon Snyder off of Bennett.  In the 7th Norfolk picked up two more runs when Joey Gathright doubled off of De Los Santos, Scott Moore was intentionally walked and Brandon Snyder doubled deep to right field driving in both Gathright and Moore before being gunned down at third by Bulls Second Baseman Elliott Johnson on the relay from right.

Kam Mickolio gets Alvin Colina swinging in the 7th

After shutting down Durham in the top of the 8th the Tides run machine began again when Josh Bell led off with a double to right and driven in by a Rhyne Hughes single.  With Hughes on and one out Steven Lerud picked up his second walk and following a strike out to Joey Gathright Robert Andino doubled to score both Hughes and Lerud. De Los Santos threw a wild pitch which advanced Andino to third and then gave up a single to Montanez to drive home Andino while Scott Moore struck out to end the inning.

Dennis Sarfate gets Rashad Eldridge swinging to end the game

Dennis Sarfate came on in the ninth to close the game out in a non-save situation. He got Elliott Johnson to ground out and then struck out both Fernando Perez and Rashad Eldridge.  Sarfate showed no sign of the injury which plagued him in 2008 and 2009 throwing hard with 9 strikes on 13 pitches. Most of his pitches were above 94 miles an hour with one registering 98 on the scoreboard radar. His only off speed pitch was the final pitch of the game where he pulled up with an 82 mile an hour change up which Eldridge missed badly.

Chris George picked up the win and Bennett the loss.  The teams will complete this series on 1:15 PM Sunday at Harbor Park with Brandon Erbe making his Tides debut against Durham’s Virgil Vasquez. The weather is expected to be great with a temperature of 71 at game time and clear skies. See you there.

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