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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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Bats Must Need Hats….Tides fall to Durham 7-2

Brandon Erbe got the start and the loss for the Tides

The Norfolk Tides had no luck on Saturday as they were manhandled by the Durham Bulls 7-2 on a beautiful North Carolina spring afternoon.  The Tides started Brandon Erbe who faced Durham’s Carlos Hernandez.  Today was Brandon’s second International League start for the Tides after a disappointing debut for the Orioles prospect in Norfolk on Monday.  Yet the Tides hitters failed to produce runs that might have supported Erbe and the relievers with Rhyne Hughes driving in both of Norfolk’s runs. It is starting to look like at least some of the hitters for the Tides might need hats for their bats like Pedro Cerrano in Major League.

Today the Tides got out to an early lead when the streaking Rhyne Hughes extended his hitting streak to nine games driving in Robert Andino with a double to right.  Erbe held the Bulls scoreless through the first three innings then began to weaken in the fourth when Justin Ruggiano homered to right to tie the game.  The Tides lost an opportunity in the fifth when with Joey Gathright at the plate Jonathan Tucker was gunned down trying to steal second and as luck would have it Gathright doubled immediately following the out.  Robert Andino then grounded out to end the inning leaving Gathright stranded at second.

The Bulls took the lead in the bottom of the fifth when Elliott Johnson doubled to score Fernando Perez. They would add to the lead in the sixth when Hank Blalock and Dan Johnson singled and Blalock was driven in on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Shealy. Chris Richard then doubled to left scoring Johnson. This brought Gary Allenson to the mound and Erbe headed to the clubhouse with Ross Wolf coming in to relieve Erbe. Wolf was able to stop the bleeding and end the inning.  In the top of the seventh Heath Rollins relieved Hernandez and sent the Tides down in order. Wolf gave up three singles in the fourth inning to Ruggiano, Blalock and Shealy with Shealy driving in Ruggiano to extend the Durham lead to 5-1.

Durham hitters like Dan Johnson continued to pound Tides pitchers

The Tides attempted a rally in the top of the eighth. Joey Gathright singled to left to begin the inning and was followed by Andino who struck out swinging.  Rhyne Hughes who had driven in the Tides only run came to the plate. Gathright took the opportunity and stole second base. Hughes then continued his hot hitting doubling for the second time in the evening to bring Gathright home.  Unfortunately for the Tides neither Brandon Snyder nor Scott Moore was able to extend the rally and the Tides went into the bottom of the eighth down 5-2.

The Bulls went back to work in the bottom of the eighth against Alberto Castillo who came into the game to relieve Ross Wolf.  Castillo fared no better than the previous Tides pitchers and gave up a single to Angel Chavez to start the inning. He got Jose Lobaton to strike out swinging and Fernando Perez to fly to right.  Then lightening struck when Elliott Johnson smashed his first home run of the season over the right field fence making the lead 7-2.  Winston Abreu came in to close out the game and did not disappoint the Bull’s fans.  After surrendering a base on balls to Josh Bell he got Jeff Salazar and Adam Donachie on strike outs and Jonathan Tucker to fly out to Center Fielder Justin Ruggiano to end the game.

Erbe got his second loss of the season pitching 5.1 innings giving up 4 runs on 7 hits including the home run by Ruggiano and striking out 4.  Hernandez got the win going 6 innings giving up 1 run on 5 hits with 5 strike outs.  Once again Rhyne Hughes proved his value to the Tides with two doubles and two RBIs. He has now hit in nine consecutive games. Hughes is hitting .394 with a home run, triple and four doubles with 9 RBIs and scoring seven.  The acquisition of Hughes last year by the Orioles might well be one of the best moves made by Orioles management and one that good benefit the O’s later in the season or in 2011.  Hughes is on the 40 man roster and should there be a need in the outfield at Orioles Park.

The Tides and Bulls play Sunday to complete the series with Chris Tillman scheduled to take the mound for the Tides in search of his first victory of the 2010 season.  The Tides will return to Harbor Park on Monday where they will face the Gwinnett Braves.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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