Last night the Norfolk Tides were met by the Durham Bulls at Harbor Park to open their 2013 AAA season. On a chilly night in front of an announced 3,200, fans were treated to what looked like a Sarasota hangover.
Zach Clark, who led the O's minor league system in wins last year, looked sharp in his first inning of work, retiring the side in 7 pitches. LJ Hoes, a great guy with a great mustache, singled and was driven in by Russ Canzler's double.
The second inning box score shows 3 Durham runs, but it was not all Clark's fault. The inning began with Leslie Anderson taking a pitch to the foot, and he would come around to score the only unquestionable run. Travis Ishikawa, signed this offseason for his glove work, did not help his pitcher. The former Brewer and his .995 lifetime fielding percentage looked terrible at first base, misplaying a ground ball in the inning and then letting Rich Thompson bunt his way on board by failing to communicate with Clark on the play.
Chris Archer looked dialed in the whole night for Durham. He pitched like a guy who is the Rays fourth prospect for a reason, facing a lineup from Norfolk stacked with former MLB starters and mostly shutting them down. Not many balls were hit hard on the night.
Zach Clark was visibly frustrated with his performance. Call it an Arrieta special: he did not let walks hurt him, struck out a fair amount, but still turned in an ugly game. It was easy to see why he got the Opening Day start, but his transition from "prospect" to "organizational guy" will not be far away if he keeps turning in outings like this one.
The Upside: Hard to find tonight. Jonathan Schoop went oh-fer at the plate, but looked good in the field. The best performance may have been selective moments from Clark, who held top prospect Wil Myers to no hits and made him look like a normal dude with a bat, as opposed to the next big thing.
The Downside: For a team many think could take a series from Houston or Florida, the Tides looked absolutely terrible. You had to think all of the former-MLB talent picked up by Dan Duquette showed up last night to Norfolk with a depression, expecting to be back in The Show at that point. That, at least, is how they played. Maybe Danny Valencia, who is a total brodeo star, was bummed by missing the call-up with the Roberts injury. Maybe Luis Exposito hates Taylor Teagarden and thinks he should be the backup, and couldn't let it go. Whatever the reason, I hope they get over it and play more inspired ball as the season goes on.
Overheard in the stands: Chris Tillman is a man who loves, nay, craves his strip clubs. Last year he routinely had a different stripper in the players section looking for him. I can believe it.