The Norfolk Tides seem to struggle when they get closer to .500. A team with a lot of talent, they came off the long break to a three-game series with the Durham Bulls.
Unfortunately, the Tides would not rise and ended up being swept in the three-game set. Pitching was once again the problem, as the Bulls would score 20 runs across the series and push the Tides five games under .500.
Game one saw the Tides open the game up with a three-run first inning, looking like they had everything in control.
Jordan Westburg, Yusniel Díaz and Robert Neustrom all had RBI hits to open the game. The Tides would collect five of their eight hits in the first frame, and that was pretty much the offense for them the rest of the way.
Of course, before anyone knew, D.L. Hall would start the game and leave after a two-strikeout inning. Though he gave up a run on two doubles, Hall hit 97 MPH on the gun and was replaced by Mike Baumann.
The pitching would allow five runs the rest of the way, but all eyes were on what was up with Hall. To our relief, it was a planned short outing, as all pitching would get some work for only an inning or two, with some working three.
Game two was another game that saw the Tides jump out to a 1-0 lead, give it back and then score six the following inning, before the pitching gave up five runs in the last two innings. Norfolk would lose, 9-8, as the pitching collapsed once again.
Matt Harvey would allow four runs in two innings of work, but Bruce Zimmermann and Kevin Smith would combine for three innings of one-hit ball to allow the Tides to regain the lead.
In the top of the third, Westburg and Gunnar Henderson would reach on singles, before “Big Bad” Kyle Stowers would drive them in with a two-run double.
Richie Martin would double home Stowers, and Jacob Nottingham would bring home Martin with his 11th home run of the season.
Stowers would cap the Tides scoring with his 16th home run in the next inning, but it would go for naught, as Morgan McSweeney would give up a three-run homer to Grant Witherspoon that would decide the game.
Game three would go a lot differently, as Durham would lead 2-0 before the Tides scored their first run. They followed that up with scoring three in the bottom frame, and the Tides scored only two more the rest of the way in the 5-3 loss.
Kyle Bradish, making a rehab start, would go 4.2 innings, allowing two runs and striking out six. He threw 80 pitches, 49 connecting for strikes.
Stowers, Neustrom and Henderson would all hit solo home runs in the game, but the Tides mustered only five other hits and fell short in the affair.
Stowers stole the show for the series with two home runs, a double, three runs scored and four RBIs. He is now hitting .254 on the season with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs.
The Tides will travel to play the Memphis RedBirds starting Tuesday. Game time is at 7:05 p.m. EST.
Who stood out to you for Norfolk this weekend? Let us know in the comments below! And make sure to follow The Baltimore Battery on Facebook and Twitter, and use the hashtag #baltimorebattery when sharing our content!
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