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Norfolk offense stuck at low tide in home opener loss

DL Hall has up and down first outing of the season as the Tides lose to Gwinnett 6-1

Baltimore Orioles Photo Day Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Gwinnett Stripers (Braves) 6, Norfolk Tides 1

DL Hall made his 2023 debut for Norfolk Tuesday night, and in typical DL Hall fashion, the results were… erratic. Hall started off the game by giving up a solo HR on his second pitch, before walking the next batter. The electric lefty then settled into things a little, picking up his first strikeout of the new season and then picking off the batter he walked to end the frame. Hall then worked around a single and a walk in the second while picking up two more Ks to keep the game tied 1-1.

The third inning then perfectly epitomized what can make the young lefty from Georgia so fascinating and frustrating at the same time. After striking out the leadoff batter, Hall gave up three consecutive hits and two more runs to surrender a 3-1 lead to the Stripers. He would come back to punch out the last two batters of the inning, but the damage—and his start—was done. Hall’s final line in his 2023 debut read 3.0 IPs, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB and 6 Ks.

The offense for Norfolk—which came in averaging over eight runs per game—struggled early on. It didn’t help that the Stripers were starting former MLB All-Star Mike Soroka, who was making a rehab start for Gwinnett. After missing all of the 2021 and 2022 seasons with an Achilles injury, Soroka looked sharp early. He faced the minimum in the first inning, erasing a Connor Norby single by getting Joey Ortiz to ground into a double play. Soroka did give up a solo HR to Ryan O’Hearn leading off the 2nd, tying the game. He immediately bounced back with three straight outs—including two Ks. That O’Hearn homer was the only run the Tides got off of Soroka, as he finished his day after 3.2 innings, allowing four hits and striking out three.

Once the starters left the game, it was more of the same in Norfolk on Tuesday. After Jordan Westburg singled off Soroka in the fourth, Stripers pitchers held the Tides hitless for the remainder of the evening. Gwinnett’s Allan Winans was particularly dominant, earning a save by pitching the last four innings and striking out nine (!) Norfolk batters.

Norfolk’s bullpen was much less effective, as Kyle Dowdy gave up three runs in 2.1 innings in relief of Hall. Eduard Bazardo, Darwinzon Hernandez and Joey Krehbiel stopped the damage, combining for the last 11 outs without allowing any more runs. Offseason acquisition Hernandez was particularly impressive, striking out the side in the 8th.

Offensively, O’Hearn, Norby, Westburg and catcher Maverick Handley were the only Tides’ players to collect a hit. Ortiz disappointed in his season debut, going 0-4 with two strikeouts. Colton Cowser also continues to struggle at the beginning of the season, as an 0-4 for the outfielder drops his early season average to .111.

Box Score

Today’s Schedule

Gwinnett Stripers @ Norfolk Tides, 6:35pm ET

Probable Pitchers: TBD vs. Drew Rom (8-3, 4.43 ERA in 2022)