The Norfolk Tides capped off a mostly forgettable week and road trip by being blanked 1-0 on Saturday, as well as 4-0 on Sunday, by the Nashville Sounds at First Horizon Park.
To borrow the old cliché, the Tides hit the road, and the road hit back. On the 12-game swing, the longest of the season, they went 3-9 and were shutout four times.
Nashville’s two weekend shutouts give them five to lead the International League. It’s their fifth straight series win to open the season. It is the first time the Sounds have won the first five series of the season since at least 1987 (records go back to 1988).
They move to 20-9, the first IL team to 20 wins, while the Tides fall to 14-16. Three Nashville pitchers held the Tides to five singles. Norfolk got beat by a better team, in spite of being made up of highly touted prospects.
For Nashville, Jason Alexander relieved Alec Bettinger in the fourth inning and tossed five scoreless innings (5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) for the second time this season (also 4/8 vs. Durham). He has allowed three runs or less in each of his six outings this season.
Bettinger, in his first game action of the season, went the first three innings, striking out three, allowing two Norfolk hits and facing 14 batters, one of whom, Richie Martin, was 3-for-4, his second three-hit game of the season and fifth multi-hit performance overall.
He hit safely in each of the four games he played in during this series, going 7-for-14 (.500). He was the only Tides batter to have multiple hits.
Adley Rutschman, the Orioles’ top prospect and the No. 1 prospect in the minor leagues, went 1-for-3 with a walk Sunday and overall went 3-for-10 (.300) in his first three games with the Tides this season. He’s hit safely in five straight Tides games dating back to last season.
Another individual highlight of the week was the anticipated start of Grayson Rodriguez, who didn’t disappoint. He went 5.1 innings in Saturday night’s 1-0 loss to the Sounds, coming out after the Sounds put two men on in the sixth, with Rodriguez at 82 pitches. He walked three, struck out five and gave up two hits.
The battery of Rodriguez and Rutschman was the 13th time they have worked together, and in those 13 starts, Rodriguez is 5-2 with a 2.30 ERA (15 ER, 58.2 IP) and has struck out 85, walking 20.
Rodriguez gave up a single to the first batter of the game and promptly picked him off. He went on to retire eight in a row during the appearance. Nashville didn’t score their run until the eighth inning.
In what qualified as an offensive burst, Jahmai Jones went 3-for-4 in the game, with his second stolen base of the season. Through his three games in the series at Nashville, Jones was 5-for-12.
Rylan Bannon powered Norfolk’s 6-5 win Friday night with a first-inning grand slam, his second home run in as many games. Bannon had nine RBIs through the first four games of this series. Rutschman was 1-for-3 with a walk and a hit by pitch in the game.
Eight of the Tides’ nine batters reached safely that night. Nick Vespi earned his third straight save. Nashville scored twice in the ninth, but both runs were unearned. Vespi has not allowed an earned run in 11.2 innings this season over 10 games.
Sunday’s loss brings the Tides’ record in day games to 1-8, including 1-4 during the day on the road, compared to 13-8 in night games. They have a .219 (59-for-269) average and have scored 35 runs in nine games (3.9 R/G) under the sun, while posting a .246 (179-for-728) average with 106 runs in 21 games (5.0 R/G) under the lights.
Marcos Diplán posted another scoreless outing in relief, working a perfect eighth inning. Diplán has allowed just one earned run in 10.2 innings, spanning nine games. He is holding opposing hitters to a .179 (7-for-39) average.
In the three games this week B.A. (Before Adley), the Tides won Tuesday, the first game ever between these two teams, then lost Wednesday and Thursday.
In Tuesday’s 7-4 win, Jones was hit by a pitch in the top of the sixth, his league-leading fifth HBP of the season. Richie Martin stole second and third base in the second inning, his first multi-steal game of the season.
Patrick Dorrian had three hits, his first three-hit game this season, and has a base hit in six of his last nine games, hitting .321 (9-for-28) with two doubles, three RBIs and four walks.
Thursday’s 10-inning, 4-3 loss saw outfielder Robert Neustrom go 1-for-5 and extend his hitting streak to 10 games. That streak ended Friday, but since April 24, he’s hitting .400 (16-for-40) with four doubles, three home runs, eight RBIs, two walks and four stolen bases. The game was also DJ Stewart’s 500th career minor league game.
The Tides return home Tuesday to begin a six-game set with the Memphis Redbirds at Harbor Park. At this writing, D.L. Hall, who shares top billing with Rodriguez as the organization’s top pitching prospect, is on turn to start and pitch to battery mate Rutschman.
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