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Tides make it three in a row on a trio of bombs from Westburg, O’Hearn and Norby

The offense came out swinging, Spenser Watkins dealt, and the Tides coasted to a 7-4 win to stay undefeated on the season.

MLB: MAR 07 Spring Training - Orioles at Twins
Jordan Westburg flashed the power again on Sunday.
Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Norfolk Tides 7, Durham Bulls (Rays) 4

The Norfolk Tides are stacked at the plate this season, and on Sunday their 2-3-4 hitters—Connor Norby, Jordan Westburg and Ryan O’Hearn—got to Durham’s Luis Patiño early and often.

Patiño, acquired by the Rays in 2020 in the trade that made Blake Snell a Padre, has sniffed the big leagues a couple of times but oft been injured or ineffective. Ineffective is what he was on Sunday, as the Tides launched a pair of two-run blasts against him in the first three innings.

With one out in the first, Connor Norby walked to set the table for Jordan Westburg, who got this high fastball and blasted it out of Durham’s Athletic Park at 106 mph:

Westburg next played the set-up man in the third inning. He walked ahead of Ryan O’Hearn, who put the Tides up 4-1 with a 426-foot bomb of his own.

Norby himself got the chance to go yard, putting the Tides up 6-3 in the sixth inning. Greg Cullen scored on the blast.

All in all, the Tides’ 2-3-4 hitters went 5-for-12 on Sunday with six RBIs and three dingers between them. Leadoff man Colton Cowser reached just once on an 0-for-4 day (a lone BB his only time on base), but his struggles didn’t much matter to this outcome. In more “three true outcomes” news, Maverick Handley walked three times while Saturday’s hero Josh Lester and Hudson Haskin each earned a Golden Sombrero with four strikeouts apiece.

Unlike the big-league club right now, Tides’ pitching was for the most part economical and effective. Starter Spenser Watkins allowed three runs in five innings. This seems at least partly due to rust, as he walked one batter and hit two. More interestingly, Watkins whiffed five hitters in the first three innings while showing some nasty movement.

Phoenix Sanders, acquired off waivers from the Rays in Sept. 2022, struck out two in a scoreless sixth inning of work. Noah Denoyer tossed a one-run seventh and eighth, giving up one solo blast but striking out three.

Another guy pitching like he should be in the big leagues right now, Nick Vespi earned the save. Last season, Vespi managed a 0.00 ERA in 26 innings at Triple-A Norfolk. The streak continues unbroken in 2023: so far in two appearances Vespi has faced seven batters and whiffed four of them.

Box Score

Today’s Schedule

There are no scheduled games for Monday. The Tides welcome the Gwinnett Stripers (Braves affiliate) to town on Tuesday, starting at 6:35.