Despite being outscored 23-52, the Norfolk Tides went 3-4 on their first seven-game homestand, against the Durham Bulls and Charlotte Knights. I worked either as a datacaster or a BAM data collector for five of those games. Below are my observations:
- The Tides' runs scored / runs allowed ratio really doesn't reflect their abilities. Opening night was rained out and made up on the following Sunday. The Tides' fifth starter, Josh Stinson, was claimed on waivers at the end of spring training and wasn't ready for Monday's start. So the Tides hastily promoted Zach Petersime from Frederick to start Monday's game. Petersime hadn't yet pitched in a game, and lost his confidence in a seven-run third inning after the second baseman slipped fielding a routine ground ball. And, with the Tides trailing 13-3 in the ninth inning, a blown call by the first-base umpire allowed Charlotte to tack on six unearned runs. The final score was 21-4.
- The Orioles promoted outfielder Chris Dickerson from Norfolk to serve as an additional position player. (He literally was told of his callup while he was on his way to the batter's box for his first at-bat in the April 9 game.) While he only played a handful of games in Norfolk, he didn't impress me. He did blast a triple to deep right-center field, but otherwise he seemed to have trouble picking up the baseball both at bat and in the field. He'll still probably be fine as the Orioles' fifth outfielder.
- We're looking at small samples, but the Orioles may have made a mistake in keeping Steve Pearce over Russ Canzler. While Pearce has struggled with the Orioles, Canzler has slugged .741 in his first seven games. Pearce and Canzler are both right-handed, power-hitting corner players and if Pearce continues to play poorly, it might make sense to exchange Pearce and Canzler.
- The Tides signed seemingly hundreds of minor-league free-agent relief pitching prospects in the off-season, hoping to uncover a Miguel Gonzalez, Pedro Strop, or Pat Neshek. Based on just a couple of appearances, I'm already ready to write off two of them, Adam Russell and Daniel Schlereth. Russell is a huge man who doesn't look to be in really good shape. He also has a crossfire delivery, so consistent control will never be his strong suit. Atlhough Russell didn't allow a run in the three innings I've seen, he's allowed five hits and four walks. Schlereth is a relatively short, stocky left-handeder whose approach is to throw the ball as hard as he can on every pitch, and not to worry about location. I saw Schlereth pitch two innings in which he walked one and hit two others. I don't think either Russell or Schlereth have the command or control to be successful pitchers.