In Charlotte for the first series of the season, the Tides arrived to face the Knights only to be washed out by rain on Opening Day.
Instead, Opening Day began on the 6th of April with a doubleheader against the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox. Brad Bergesen started the opener and was lit up for five runs, all earned in the first two innings. Bergesen finished with five strikeouts, but allowed six earned runs total in 4 1/3 innings in his first start.
Tides first baseman Joe Mahoney is a player to watch this season and in the first game of the doubleheader, got the power going with a three-run shot off Knights starter Charles Shirek in the 4th inning that cut the Knights lead to 5-4. Charlotte tacked on another late run to win the first game 6-5.
Chris Tillman started game two for the Tides, also going 4 1/3 innings in his 2012 debut. He allowed four earned runs, while walking two and striking out two. Norfolk couldn’t muster much against Knights starter Dylan Axelrod as he struck out nine batters in the 6-3 loss in Game two.
Tides get the mojo going
The Tides bounced back, taking the next two games, earning the split and being able to feel positive heading back home to Norfolk to start a three-game set with the Gwinnett Braves starting April 9th.
The offense scored 11 runs in the two wins while the starting pitching allowed only two earned runs total in 11 innings.
Norfolk got great starting pitching with Steve Johnson on Saturday and Dana Eveland on Sunday, as Johnson went five innings of one run ball and Eveland followed that up with six innings of one run ball, striking out three Knights.
Left fielder Jamie Hoffmann hit a two-run homer that broke the game open for the Tides in Saturday’s 4-1 victory. On Sunday, the Tides had four extra base hits, all doubles. Ryan Adams, who spent time with the Orioles last season, had two of the four doubles, driving in two runs in the 7-3 victory. He’s hitting a team high .333 so far.
Bullpen is the story
Its early, but the story has been the pitching out of the bullpen. The depth brought in by Orioles GM Dan Duquette has worked well so far as the Tides have reliable guys filling roles so far. The ‘pen struck out ten batters in the series, while only walking two. Only Dontrelle Willis has allowed multiple runs in his outings thus far. Pat Neshek picked up his first save in the 4-1 victory on Saturday night.
Another guy looking to make an impact with the Orioles down the road is Zach Phillips. Phillips was edged out by Darren O’Day for one of the final bullpen spots with the O’s because of his options he has. In two innings, he has struck out three batters.
If the bullpen can hold things when they are called on, the Tides can be a pretty tough team with their ability to hit the baseball. So far, the bullpen has posted a 2.31 ERA.
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