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Orioles Tie Yankees for First in the AL East: There is a Political Convention Going On?

Zach Britton pitches against the Blue Jays  (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

“With those who don’t give a damn about baseball, I can only sympathize.  I do not resent them.  I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers and in favor of world peace.  But while the game is on, I can’t think of anything to say to them.” Art Hill

Thank God for baseball, especially the Baltimore Orioles because I have pretty had my fill of the 2012 Presidential campaign.  But then since the campaign started the day after Barak Obama defeated John McCain in 2008 I guess I have good reason to feel this way. You see I like politics and I follow politics, sometimes if for no other reason than I find it interesting. Because of this I have been paying attention to the antics of both the Republicans and the Democrats and I think I am finally worn out by it.

So tonight with the Democratic National Convention going on in Charlotte I am tuned in to the Major League Baseball channel. I did the same last week with the Republican Convention and even though I agree more with the Democrats on many issues now than I do the Republicans I just cannot stomach night after night of partisan politics even if I agree more with some of these partisans the the partisans of the other side.

The really big important thing that happened tonight was the not the DNC. The big story was that Baltimore Orioles are are now tied for first place with the New York Yankees in the American League East. The Orioles have been coming on strong and are making believers out of baseball experts. Tonight they crushed the Toronto Blue Jays 12-0 with Zach Britton, who I know from his time at Norfolk won his fourth straight start, pitching 7 innings allowing no runs on 4 hits. Mark Reynolds went 3-4 with four RBI. The Orioles, who have one of the worst run differentials in the league pounded out 18 hits, a season high. Meanwhile in Tampa the Yankees lost again to Tampa after the Orioles took two of three in the Bronx. I find this much more  interesting and probably more important than anything that any political candidate or surrogate can say this week because it symbolizes the America that I believe in. That is the America were the scrappy journeymen can give the big guys a run for their money. I believe in the America of Field of Dreams, where deep inside, the good in baseball inspires people to better things.

“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”

I guess that is why tonight on the opening night of the DNC I am watching baseball.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

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It’s all about Leadership: The Orioles Sweep the Rays to Open the Season

Orioles starting Pitcher Chris Tillman (shown in Norfolk 2010) pitched 6 no-hit inning against the Rays before being lifted when his pitch count went over 100

“Nobody likes to hear it, because it’s dull, but the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.”  Earl Weaver

Note: This is my first baseball post of the 2011 season which actually deals with what is happening on the field. Last year I wrote almost exclusively about the Baltimore Orioles AAA affiliate the Norfolk Tides. I was a season ticket holder and decided to write on every game.  This year since I am stationed in Camp LeJeune and cannot go to Harbor Park every home game I will focus on the Baltimore Orioles and to a lesser degree the Tides. I do this because I know a lot of the players from their time in Norfolk and have met various scouts and team officials to include Orioles General Manager Andy McPhail. I would like to do this for the team that I grew up with the San Francisco Giants but since they are a West Coast team it is harder to keep up with them the way I can the Orioles.  I will also do some commentary on other teams, especially in the AL East but also try to tell the stories of players that I know from Norfolk who are now in the Major Leagues.

Can you say the word “winner in the same sentence as Orioles?” I knew you couldn’t. Well the Orioles started the season off right sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays in Tampa with dominant pitching, solid defense and more than enough hitting to get the job done. Orioles starting pitchers Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton allowed just 1 run on 6 hits in 20 innings work. Tillman who pitched a no-hitter as a starter for the AAA Norfolk Tides last year had a no-hitter going after 6 innings but was lifted by Manager Buck Showalter as his pitch count had gone over 100.  Orioles’ relievers were solid and some players picked up in the off-season, particularly J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds.

Are the Orioles for real? I say most definitely yes.

In 2010 the Baltimore Orioles began the season under the direction of Manager Dave Trembley lost 9 of their first 10 and 16 of their first 20 games.  Under Trembley the O’s went 15-39 before he was fired and replaced by Third Base Coach Juan Samuel who went 17-34.  The season was in the tank and it looked like the Orioles were on track to lose well over 100 games.  Then proven winner and leader Buck Showalter was as hired as Manager on August 2nd.  After that the Orioles were a different team, the players were the same but the attitude and performance was as if the team itself had risen like the legendary Phoenix. From the time that Showalter took over the Orioles went 34-23 having the second best record in Major League Baseball between August and the end of the season.  It was an amazing turnaround and it was due to leadership. At the beginning of 2010 I thought that the Orioles had the talent to finally break .500 and turn a winning season for the first time since 1997 when they went 98-64 under Davey Johnson and reach the ALCS.  They didn’t finish anything close to .500 but the turnaround at the end of the season showed that it wasn’t the level of talent it was the on-field leadership that was the difference.

Young veteran Jeremy Guthrie pitched 8 scoreless innings against the Rays on opening day

This season as always the Orioles are getting little respect from the so called experts, most predicting a slightly better year than 2010 but almost all saying that the Orioles will finish at the bottom of the AL East once again. I don’t think that this will be the case at all. I think that the O’s are going to surprise everyone this year and break .500 and finish at least 3rd in the division. They are going to give everyone trouble including the vaunted Red Sox and Yankees.  This is a tough division and though the Red Sox and Yankees have a lot of money to spend a decent number of their stars are beginning to show their age and over the course of the 162 game season injuries will be a factor.

Rookie Zach Britton called up from Norfolk to replace the injured Brian Matusz got his first Major League win on Sunday

As for the Orioles they have excellent pitching that goes deep into their minor league system and they picked up a solid closer in Kevin Gregg.  Pitching is a big deal and the Yankees will struggle in this department. The Red Sox have good pitching but some of their best including ace closer Jonathan Papelbon are showing their age and do not have the same stuff that they had before. In fact the Red Sox were shelled by Texas Rangers hitting this weekend and swept in Arlington by the Rangers who do not seem to have missed a beat coming off of their American League Championship in 2010. The Yankees took 2 of 3 from the Tigers but gave up 18 runs to the Tigers in those three games.

I know that it is very early in the season but the Orioles made all the right moves in the off season and have improved in every aspect of the game. The young pitchers after having been blooded in 2010 are about to show what they are made of against the AL East and the rest of the American League and the difference will be the pitching.  I think that Orioles will win between 85-and 90 games and make a lot of teams miserable. Of course I could be wrong but I think that I will be more right than the experts when it comes to the 2011 Baltimore Orioles squad under the direction of Buck Showalter.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Finishing Well: The Orioles’ Revival a Portent of things to Come

Luke Scott and the Orioles finally have something to be excited about

The Baltimore Orioles under new manager Buck Showalter have become a force in the American League and the American League East.  On August the 2nd the O’s had the worst record in baseball, even lower than the perpetual dwellers in the Marinas Trench of baseball the Pittsburgh Pirates. In four months of play the O’s had but 32 wins and had gone through two managers.  They were on pace to lose well at least 110 games and maybe more games than any team in Major League Baseball History in a 162 game season.

Outfielders like Felix Pie (above) as well as Nick Markakis, Adam Jones will have Corey Patterson looking for a starting position and Nolan Reimold hoping for redemption

At the end of last season I said that manager Dave Trembley had to go. At the time I suggested Bobby Valentine as a replacement. After Trembley was fired Valentine as well as a number of other candidates was interviewed, shortly after Valentine removed himself from consideration as a possible successor to Trembley. On August the 2nd the Orioles hired Showalter to take the place of Interim Manager Juan Samuel. When Showalter took over the Orioles no-one gave him much of a chance of making any real progress this season, most considered the Orioles a lost cause.  I did not think so. At the beginning of the year I predicted that the Orioles would be a .500 team and that this would be a good year for them.  That prediction did not materialize but it was not a question of talent but of leadership and the ability of the Orioles Coaching staff to get the best out of the team, especially the young talent.  The team is playing to the level that I thought that they could at the beginning of the season.

Jeremy Guthrie as well as stable mates Jake Arietta, Brian Matusz, Chris Tillman and Brad Bergeson will have competition from others including Zach Britton who is still at Norfolk

It is my belief that finishing a season well is an indicator of the real potential of a team.  If one was to simply look at the Orioles aggregate win and loss totals one might say that the season was a disaster. That is not true. The first 4 months of the season were an unmitigated disaster as the team lost 16 of its first 18 games and never recovered under the management of Dave Trembley and Juan Samuel. The team was obviously demoralized and looked to an outsider that they believed that they would lose when they took the field. Young players, especially the young pitchers either got knocked around or were given no run support.  Veterans acquired in the off-season to provide experience and on field leadership to the youngsters were a bust and the team had numerous injuries to key players. You could not have a worse first two thirds of a season if you tried.

But all of that changed on August 2nd with a simple change in leadership. The Orioles started to win and win frequently. Not only did they win frequently they began to win a lot more series than they lost.If the season began on August 2nd the AL east would look like this:

Orioles            34-23     .596

Blue Jays         30-26   .535

Yankees          30-27    .526

Red Sox          28-27    .509

Rays                28-28     .500

There were turnarounds in hitting as well as starting pitching. Orioles starters went 26-15 with a 3.13 ERA after Showalter.  With that their starters were the 3rd best rotation in majors since August 2nd.  They have the third best record in the Majors since August 2nd with only the Phillies and Twins winning more.

The Orioles have a lot to look forward to. Buck Showalter will not rest in the off season as he gets the O’s ready for next year. There will be changes. I would think that pitchers Kevin Millwood and Mark Hendrickson will be gone; others will have to fight for their jobs. In the off season Showalter will take the raw talent that has been present on the Orioles at the Major League and Minor League levels make prudent trades as well as assignments within the organization to get them ready to challenge the rest of the AL East in 2011.

While the Orioles are definitely on the way up one has to take a look at how others are doing not just in the East but in the Majors. In the AL East the Rays Owner says that payroll will be significantly reduced and with numerous key players in contract negotiations and declaring free agency they will not be the same team that they have been the past three years. The Yankees and Red Sox are both showing signs of age with the Sox being in worse shape in the long run because they have little to speak of in their minor league system are saddled with a good number of older players and have key players entering the free agent market.  The Yankees can always spend money but as the core of the team, Jeter, Posada, Pettitte and Rivera get older they will lose something. Since the organization will be unlikely to trade such favorites at some point they will spend more time on the DL and not perform as well as in previous years. It is simple; the older guys get the more that they wear out.  This may prove problematic for the Yankees in the coming years.  The Blue Jays finished strong but one does not know what will happen with them with the exit of long time manager Cito Gaston.

Outside of the AL East only the Twins performed really well.  Almost every team in the AL was just above .500 or below during the last two months of the season. This includes teams that have a history of doing well and some that are playoff bound.  Finishing well matters and with the exception of the Orioles and Twins in the AL no teams finished strong, many stumbled and the proof is in their records.

All of this bodes well for the Orioles especially if Showalter is able to continue what he started this year.  I expect the Orioles to be competitive in the AL East. I do not think that they will necessarily win the division but they will not be the door-mat that they have been for so many years.  There is work to do in Birdland but for the first time in years there is real hope based on their performance the last two months of the season.  The team believes that it can win every time it takes the field. When there is leadership and talent there is no limit to where the O’s can go.

Over the off-season I will continue my reporting and commentary on the Orioles and their organization, particularly the Triple-A affiliate the Norfolk Tides. Over the next month I will be commenting of the MLB playoffs and begin to publish articles on the young talent in the Orioles organization and what I think might happen as Buck Showalter and Andy McPhail makes the changes to the organization to make the team a force in the American League for years to come.

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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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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Tides Lose to Knights 7-3 Friday Win 6-1 Saturday; Rubber Match Sunday

Troy Patton and the Tides had an exercise in futility on Friday

The Norfolk Tides returned to Harbor Park on Friday night to face their International League South rival the Charlotte Knights. It was a tale of two cities on Friday and Saturday as the Tides lost an error filled game in which they were held to just four hits.  However on Saturday Zach Britton pitched 8 innings allowing 5 hits and a run as the Tides pounded out 6 runs on 13 hits including 3 home runs, two by Michael Aubrey who now leaders the team with 17.

On Friday Troy Patton returned to the mound for the first time in nearly two weeks following successive call ups to Baltimore in which he did not pitch and the layoff showed as he struggled at times over the course of a 4 inning performance.  He was not helped in the second inning when he gave up 4 runs only two of which were earned as Jeff Salazar dropped a fly ball that should have been the 3rd out allowing two additional runs to score.  Troy would exit the game after the 4th inning striking out 5 Knights batters in 4 innings work.

Zach Britton pitched 8 strong innings allowing just 1 run on 5 hits

The Tides actually got an early lead as in the 1st inning Michael Aubrey had an RBI double to score Jeff Salazar who had walked to lead off the inning.  The Knights scored their 4 runs in the top of the 2nd with 3 consecutive hits that scored two runs followed by the error which allowed the others to score.  In the bottom half of the inning Brandon Snyder led off with a double and scored on a ground out by Paco Figueroa.  The Tides pulled within a run in the bottom of the 4th inning as Knights starting pitcher Carlos Torres walked Brandon Snyder and Scott Moore and then hit Adam Donachie with a pitch before Paco Figueroa grounded in to a force play on which Snyder scored.

Michael Aubrey after his first of 2 home runs tonight

Jim Miller came into the game for the Tides got into trouble in the 5th inning giving up two singles and a walk to load the bases before a double play on a ground ball allowed Jeremy Reed to score.  Miller looked to have things under control with two outs and a runner on third and threw a wild pitch in the dirt which allowed Brent Morel to score.  Pat Egan came in for the 7th and 8th innings and in the 8th gave up an insurance run to the Knights on doubles by Fernando Cortez and Alejandro De Aza. Cla Meredith pitched the 9th inning but the Tides could not muster any more offense and the game ended with the final score 7 to 6 in favor of the Knights.  Patton (7-10 4.79 ERA) got the loss and Carlos Torres (9-7 3.31 ERA) gained the win. The Knights had 7 runs on 10 hits and no errors leaving 10 men on base, the Tides 3 runs on 4 hits with 4 errors with 8 men left on base.

On the 13th the Orioles activated Lou Montanez from the DL and assigned him to Norfolk where he would have an impact on Saturday night.

On Saturday the Tides sent Zach Britton to the hill to face the Knights and pitcher Brandon Hynick in a game that differed much from Friday night.  Britton pitched an outstanding game pitching 8 innings giving up a run on 5 hits striking out 9 Knights and walking 3.  He looked like he was in trouble in the 4th inning he loaded the bases with 1 out but pitched out of trouble when Jeremy Reed grounded into a 4-6-3 double play, Figueroa to Andino who made a tremendous play at 2nd and on to Aubrey to end the inning.   Tyler Flowers walked to lead off the 5th inning and scored on a single by Fernando Cortez producing the only run of the night for the Knights.

Lou Montanez went 3-5 in the win

The Tides offense was productive producing 13 hits to score their 6 runs.  Michael Aubrey crushed a pitch in the 2nd inning from Hynick for a home run putting the Tides on the board with an early lead of 1-0.   Matt Angle led off the 6th inning with his first home run of the year and with 2 outs Nolan Reimold walked and was followed by Scott Moore who singled.  Reimold then scored on a Lou Montanez single one of three hits on the day for Lou.  The Tides scored 3 more runs off of reliever Jon Adkins in the bottom of the 7th inning.  Michael Aubrey led off the inning with his 17th home run and was followed by consecutive singles from Nolan Reimold, Scott Moore and Lou Montanez to load the bases.  Brandon Snyder took a pitch from Adkins to the right field wall where it was caught by Jordan Danks which scored Reimold.  Michel Hernandez then took a pitch to the warning track in right but the sacrifice enabled Moore to score to give the Tides a 6-1 lead.  Jim Hoey came on in the 9th in a non-save situation and dominated the Charlotte batters striking out Dayan Viciedo on a 98 mile per hour fastball, getting Stafan Gartrell to pop up to second baseman Paco Figueroa and stinking out Jeremy Reed swinging to end the game.

Hynick (1-3 6.81 ERA) was charged with the loss while Zach Britton (2-2 3.12 ERA) notched the win. The Knights had 1 run on 5 hits with no errors leaving 4 men on base while the Tides put up 6 runs on 13 hits with no errors leaving 12 men on base.

Sunday the Tides will send Chris Tillman (9-7 3.45 ERA) against Lucas Harrell (10-9 4.43 ERA).  Game time is 6:15 at Harbor Park.

See you there,

Peace

Padre Steve+

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“The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Tides Lose to Tribe 10-6 and 7-4; Orioles win 3-1

Nolan Reimold is hitting .383 and has 2 home runs and 9 RBIs in the last 10 games

The Norfolk Tides were downed by the Indianapolis Indians on Tuesday by a score of 10-6 and Wednesday afternoon 7-4.  As was the case in Louisville it was in large part due to pitching though unlike the Louisville series only one of the two games could be held against the starting pitcher. In an unfortunate turn of events for the Tides Chris George was forced from the game after retiring the first two batters in the first inning with an injured elbow. He has not yet been placed on the DL and there is nothing currently on the Tides or Orioles website as to his status and the severity of the injury. In most of his starts this year Chris has been solid and if he is injured it will place even more stress on a struggling Tides starting rotation which could affect the bullpen. The bullpen with the exception of Tuesday’s game against the Indians has been very effective allowing the Tides to stay in games that earlier in the year would have been blowouts.

Tim Bascom and other Starters have been hammered over the past few weeks

With Jake Arietta, Alfredo Simon and Armando Gabino now at Baltimore the Tides are without their three most effective starters.  Chris Tillman has been affected and he has not been as effective as he was earlier in the year I believe by the constant actions of Orioles management to keep sending Chris up and down between Baltimore and Norfolk.  He has had some outstanding games including a no-hitter against the Gwinnett Braves. Troy Patton has improved throughout the year and is now one of the Tides most dependable starters, unfortunately for the Tides he has missed several recent starts due to being called up to Baltimore where he saw no action.  Brandon Erbe had a number of rough outings and during his good starts did not have run support from the offense or saw the defense commit errors that resulted in runs.   Tim Bascom called up from Bowie in May has struggled his last win occurred on June 27th and was tagged for 7 earned runs in today’s game.  Zach Britton who was called up on July 1st has been effective despite a record of 1 win and 2 losses.  His worst outing occurred in Louisville where he gave up 5 earned runs in 3.2 innings. Chris George as I mentioned earlier has had a decent but not remarkable season but now the verdict is out concerning the severity of the injury to his elbow that he appeared to sustain Tuesday night.

The Tides and Orioles need to find a solution to the difficulty that the current starters are having in the early innings.  Again with few exceptions the bullpen has been solid since the All-Star break but the starting pitching needs to improve.  The Tides are now scoring enough runs on a regular basis that they should be winning more games than they are losing. They are losing in the early innings when starters have given up too many runs to opponents. Examples include July 16th when Bascom gave up 6 runs in 1.2 innings, July 24th when Tillman gave up 6 runs in 3.2 innings, the 29th when Tillman gave up 5 runs in 4.1 innings, August 5th when George gave up 6 runs in 3.2 innings, August 6th when Bascom gave up 7 runs in 3.2 innings, the 8th when Britton gave up 5 runs in 3.2 innings and today when Bascom gave up 7 runs in 6 innings.  All things considered getting down by that many runs that often makes it very difficult on the offense.  It is true that there have been many occasions when the offense failed to produce when starters pitched well but the trend lately is to get behind early and despite solid performances from the offense to score plenty of runs and get plenty of hits and nearly come back to win.

Tides hitters are showing signs of life, in the past 10 days Nolan Reimold has hit .389 with 2 home runs and 9 RBIs, Robert Andino .350 with 5 RBIs, Scott Moore .324 with 2 homers and 6 RBIs, Matt Angle .385 and 5 RBIs.  A couple of players hot earlier have cooled down or are slumping but even so in the past two weeks the Tides team batting average has gone up from .248 to .252 with corresponding increases in other offensive categories, a sign that overall the hitting is getting better.

On Tuesday night the Tides lost 10-6 and following the injury to Chris George saw the bullpen not be able to get the job done giving up 10 runs (7 earned) on 12 hits with 2 errors and walking 5 in 7.1 innings, a game ERA of 8.87.  Tides hitters had a good night of their own pounding our 6 runs on 12 hits including a home run by Scott Moore, an inside the park home run by catcher Adam Donachie and doubles by Michael Aubrey, Rhyne Hughes and Donachie who had 4 RBIs.  Cla Meredith (1-2 7.65 ERA) got the loss for the Tides and Joe Martinez (1-0 4.00 ERA) the win for the Tribe.

Today it was Tom Bascom who was stung giving up 7 runs, )4 in the 4th inning) in 6 innings work relievers Kam Mickolio, making his first appearance since coming off the DL and Denis Sarfate each pitched well, Mickolio allowing a hit but no runs and Sarfate putting the Tribe down in order with 2 strikeouts.  Nolan Reimold had two hits one a double with 2 RBIs, Robert Andino had a RBI producing sacrifice fly, Michael Aubrey had a RBI double and Brandon Snyder a double.

The Tides and Indians finish the series Friday night with Rick Vanden Hurk (1-1 2.84 ERA) on the hill for the Tides and Brad Lincoln (6-3 4.17 ERA) up for the Indians.

The Orioles played their second game of a 3 game series against Cleveland and defeated the Indians 3-1 on the strength of a 2 hit complete game shutout by Brad Bergeson.  The Orioles are now 8-1 under Buck Showalter and are now 40-74 for the first time during the season not having the worst record in the majors, which is now held by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  They are close to overtaking the Mariners and within striking distance of the Indians, Royals, Cubs, Diamondbacks and Nationals.  Showalter is a leader a precise man that uses statistics, views of others in the organization and his own observations to evaluate players including their competitive spirit.

Anyway, it is late; I am tired and have an early morning.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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