Before the game Camden Chat sat down with ninth-year pro Russ Canzler. He shared his thoughts on being tied for first in the I.L. South, "It feels great; we’ve been playing some real good ball. We’ve been chasing Durham for a real long time and those guys have been playing real good ball as well. We’re definitely in the position we want to be in right now and everyone is starting to enjoy playing together."
Canzler added, "Our starting pitching has been really, really good. Guys have been going deep into games giving our bullpen some rest. It’s going to make hitting a lot easier."
Canzler commented on what to see from Jurrjens tonight saying, "He’s going to be in the zone, commanding the strike zone. You’re going to see a lot of ground ball outs. He works quickly. He’s a fun guy to play defensive behind because you know he is going to keep the defenders on their toes and ultimately J.J. has been doing a good job controlling the tempo. If he does that he’s going to have another good outing."
As of late Danny Valencia has been on fire, leading the team with a .319 batting average. Canzler commented on his teammate’s hot bat, "Danny has tremendous ability at the plate. He can drive the ball to all fields. He has quick hands. He knows what he is doing up there. He’s a great guy to have batting cleanup. Ultimately everyone one through nine has been stepping up. It’s a nice thing about our lineup, it can be any guy one through nine that can hurt you real bad."
Friday Game Report
Danny Valencia hit a three-run bomb during his first at bat. Valencia’s home run was his 4th of the young season. Valencia had his night cut short when he was tossed three innings into the game because of a misunderstanding with the home plate umpire. Niuman Romero replaced Valencia after his ejection.
In addition to the Valencia offensive contribution, the Tides received offense via Travis Ishikawa and Lew Ford. Ishikawa was good for two RBI’s while Ford belted two home runs to left-field. With an 8-2 win Friday night, Jair Jurrjens improved his record to 3 wins and 1 loss.
Friday Night Post Game
After winning the last eight games, Ford expressed his feelings about the success: "It’s nice. We have a good team. These guys have been around a long time. You just go out and play each day, but it’s early. We’re playing good baseball. You want to keep playing and not get caught up in the standings."
Ford also commented on his Club’s pitching stating, "Our starters have been solid and everyone has been pitching well. Jair Jurrjens had a great night. He’s been consistent and solid. It’s been nice. We have a good team right now."
Winning pitcher Jair Jurrjens commented on his performance tonight, "My changeup and my fastball came in a little speedy there. I was hitting my spot with those two pitches and they were swinging early."
Friday night at Harbor Park winds were gusting up to 28 mph. Jurrjens shared his thoughts on the breezy night, "Definitely in the eighth there was a foul ball that if it was normal it would’ve been in the stands, but the wind brought it back. The wind was blowing in; the wind was too hard for them."
With Jair’s stand up eight-inning performance, there was little work for the bullpen. Jurrjens commented, "That’s a job for a starter--to eat as many innings as you can to give those guys back there a chance to rest and that’s my job to go out there and give my team a quality game."
Tides skipper Ron Johnson commented on Jurrjens performance, "I saw a veteran pitcher commanding the strike zone. He changed speeds, he kept guys off balance. When it’s a cold windy night what you want to see is your team getting off the field and that’s what J. J. did for us."
Johnson also gave his thoughts on Lew Ford, "Lew is a good hitter. It’s really good to see Lew the last couple days doing what he’s doing. This is the Lew Ford I knew from last year."
The Norfolk Tides began the night in sole position of first place in the I.L. South and started off the tilt against Syracuse with a record of 19-9. Twenty-five-year-old left-handed hurler Zach Britton began the game on the mound for Norfolk while Syracuse’s Ross Ohlendorf got the go ahead to charge the mound.
Prior to Saturday’s game infielder Travis Ishikawa relayed his message about his team’s success, "Coming out of spring training we were swinging the bats well, throwing the ball well. We just had not had a way for it to click together. I think right now we’re clicking together. We’re finding a way to get the hits in this tough park. Our pitching staff has been doing a phenomenal job keeping zeros up on the board. We just have the confidence now."
Ishikawa also gave Camden Chat a low down on what to except from Saturday’s starting pitcher Zach Britton, "A low 90’s sinker baller. I except to get a lot of ground balls and have a lot of balls thrown to me at first. When he’s on, that’s what he does. He’s a competitor out there. He’s a professional out there. He works hard, works quick, keeps the infield intact. I’m sure the outfielders get bored out there. When he pitched here last, he had about fifteen or sixteen ground ball outs."
Saturday’s Game Report
Jason Pridie opened up scoring for both sides when he took Ohlendorf out the park during Norfolk’s first go around at bat. Zach Britton hurled to 29 batters giving up 10 hits, 4 runs, walking 1 and sticking out 4 batters before left-handed reliever Chris Jones took over during the top half of the 7th inning.
Jones saw his night end after just an inning of work and left the game with the scoreboard reading 9-1 in favor of the Chiefs. Left-handed pitcher Mike Belfiore came to the aid of Jones and took over on the mound for the remainder of the game.
The Tides suffered their first loss since April 24th. The final score was 9-1 in favor of the visiting club. Britton suffered his first loss of the year. The winning pitcher of record was Ohlendorf who recorded his third win of the 2013 campaign.
Saturday Night Post Game
Tides pitching coach Mike Griffin commented on Britton’s game, "I thought he did well. There were some areas where he’s a little rough, but he smoothed the edges out as he went along. He showed me that when you don’t have ‘your best stuff’ that you’re still able to make the pitch when you have to keep your ball club in the game. So I was really pleased with his effort."
Sunday’s Pre-Game Report
Pitching coach Mike Griffin commented on his pitching staff before Sunday’s game, "Well what we’re doing right now is we’re pitching ahead in the count much better than we were at the beginning of the year. At the beginning of the year it’s tough, but it’s not difficult because everybody is trying to get there feet wet and is trying to get settled in. We had a little rough start in that area at the very beginning of the year, but when we went on that 12 day road trip things started to solidify a little bit better and started to get some innings in out of the bull pen. The starters started to get in to their set routine and game plans and that’s when we started to get ahead in the count and we started to finish hitters out once we were ahead in the count."
Griffin also battered about his Club’s starting pitcher Josh Stinson, who started in his fourth game this season, "Hopefully some ground ball outs. He’s got a good life on his fastball. When he’s on, he’ll get those ground balls. Hopefully he can stay ahead in the count because that’s what we preach a lot here and hopefully that will translate into success today."
Sunday’s Game Report
As predicted Josh Stinson started on the hill hoping to improve on his 1-0 record while Syracuse’s Chris Young opposed the 25-year-old Shreveport, LA native. Designated hitter Travis Ishikawa opened up scoring for both sides during the Tides first go around at the plate. Ishikawa hit a stand-up two-run RBI double giving the Tides the lead heading into the second inning of play.
The Chief’s bats cracked during the top half of the fourth inning and tied the game at two. The Chiefs broke the 2-2 stalemate at the top of sixth inning. Also in the sixth inning, Syracuse’s starter Chris Young retired to the dugout. Young gave up 6 hits, 2 runs, and walked 1. Jeff Mandel took over the duties on the hill for the Chiefs.
Tides starter Josh Stinson saw his day end after pitching 6 innings before being replaced by Alex Burnett. Before being replaced, Stinson gave up 5 hits, 3 runs, walking 4, and striking out 2. Tides catcher Luis Exposito played the role of hero during the bottom half of the eighth belting a 3-run home run tying the game at 5.
The tie remained after 9 so the game went into extra innings. In the bottom of the 11thYamaico Navarro received a gift from the baseball gods when he hit a single that bounced off 1st base and hit the umpire who ruled it a fair ball and advanced a runner to 3rd with no outs.
After the Navarro hit, Trayvon Robinson was walked which loaded the bases for designated hitter Travis Ishikawa who delivered via an RBI single which broke the tie and gave the Tides a one up for the win. The winner of record was Josh Stinson and the loss was credited to Chief’s Chris Young.
Veteran Russ Canzler chirped about how potent the Tides line up can be, "That’s why we’ve been playing well lately and if we’re not winning, we’re in contention for games. That’s the great thing about this team."
Canzler also chatted about Ishikawa’s game winning hit, "It looked like he was ready to hit on the first pitch. I think sometimes when guys come up in situations like that they tend to stretch their strike zones a little bit. Travis looked like he wanted to hit the first thing he liked and that’s what you have to do. You have to let it go and he got a good pitch for his first at bat."
The Tides now hit the road for the next 8 days with stops in Buffalo and Syracuse.