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Orioles minor league recap 9/26: Rutschman has three hits, Diaz homers in Norfolk loss

A few hitting prospects stood out for the Tides, but a walkoff sac fly sent them to a 6-5 defeat in Charlotte.

Atlanta Braves v Baltimore Orioles
There haven’t been many opportunities to use a Yusniel Diaz photo this year, so here you go.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Triple-A: Charlotte Knights (White Sox) 6, Norfolk Tides 5

The Tides lost this game on a bizarre play in the bottom of the ninth, described in the box score as “Marco Hernandez out on a sacrifice fly to third baseman Tyler Nevin in foul territory. Ronny Gonzalez scores.” A walkoff sac fly on a foul pop-up to third? I haven’t been able to find video of the play, but I’m curious how that happened. Seems like it was a heads-up baserunning play by Gonzalez, so kudos to him.

Before that, the Tides put up a pretty good fight, making the most of their seven hits to score five runs. Overall #1 prospect Adley Rutschman, as the DH, had three of those hits, all singles, and is now batting .321 with a .845 OPS at Norfolk. Trailing 5-2 in the ninth, Norfolk plated three runs to tie, capped by Robert Neustrom’s two-run single. Neustrom also drew a bases-loaded walk earlier in the game.

And hey, look who homered — Yusniel Diaz! The woebegone outfield prospect (#12), coming to the end of an atrocious season, delivered his first long ball in just over three months (June 25). He’s still batting just .162 with a .472 OPS overall for Norfolk, but maybe he can get a little bit of momentum in this final week of the season to send him into the winter on a high note. Elsewhere, it was a rough night for Nevin (#29), who went 0-for-4 with a throwing error in addition to letting the winning run score on that foul popup. Kyle Stowers (#11) went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts but is still hitting .297 with an .844 OPS at Triple-A.

Four of the Tides’ five pitchers in this game have spent time in the majors this season, and that quartet — Dean Kremer, Paul Fry, Dusten Knight, and Manny Barreda — combined to pitch six innings without allowing an earned run. Kremer dazzled with three hitless innings, walking two and striking out five, though he was pulled a bit early, perhaps to keep him as a starting option for the Orioles in the final week. The news wasn’t as good for righty Blaine Knight, who coughed up five runs and six hits in 2.2 innings of relief, inflating his ERA to 8.85 in six games at Norfolk.

Box score from Saturday’s game can be found here.

Sunday’s scheduled game:

Norfolk: at Charlotte, 4:45 PM. Starter: Ryan Hartman (1-1, 5.19)