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Orioles minor league recap 9/27: Tides drop Game 1 of International League Championship

A late-inning collapse by the bullpen doomed Norfolk in the opening contest of the Triple-A playoffs, as they lost 10-5 against the Durham Bulls

MLB: Spring Training-Tampa Bay Rays at Baltimore Orioles Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Triple-A: Durham Bulls (Rays) 10, Norfolk Tides 5

After coming back from an early deficit, the Tides bullpen couldn’t hold it together as they dropped Game 1 of the International League Championship series to the Bulls. Durham’s offense started out with a bang—well, two bangs, actually. Bulls SS Triston Gray hit a one-out solo HR in the top of the 2nd, and then RF Ruben Cardenas hit a solo blast of his own with two outs in the 3rd.

Faced with an early 2-0 hole, the Tides offense went to work to get back into the game. Shayne Fontana led off the bottom of the third with a single, and two-batters later Connor Norby added a single of his own to give Norfolk a runner in scoring position. Then, with runners on second and third, Coby Mayo laced a double into the left field gap, driving home both runners and tying the game at two.

Two innings later, Norby delivered the biggest hit of the game for the Tides. Still tied at two in the 5th, the slugging second baseman launched a first-pitch changeup into the bullpens in left-center. The solo HR gave the Tides their first lead at 3-2 as they looked to take control of their playoff opener.

Unfortunately, things would fall apart for Norfolk in the late innings. After taking over for starter Bruce Zimmermann in the 3rd, Garrett Stallings was still going strong entering the 7th inning having allowed just the one run. However, the top of the 7th started out rough and didn’t get any better for the Tides bullpen. The Bulls opened the inning with a leadoff single and then quickly loaded the bases. Cardenas then delivered a two-out a single that scored two runs to give Durham a 4-3 lead.

Things then went from bad to worse in the 8th. Nick Vespi took over for Stallings and struggled with his command, walking the bases loaded. The Bulls then scored runs on a single, a walk, a double and a fielders choice, and by the time the inning was over Norfolk trailed 9-3. The heart of the Tides lineup went down in order in the bottom of the 8th and Durham added their 10th run on a walk, a couple of wild pitches and a single in the 9th. Down to their final three outs, Norfolk did attempt to rally. A single from Josh Lester followed by a home run from Lewin Díaz cut the Bulls’ lead to five. However, the rally stopped there as Anthony Bemboom flew out and Shayne Fontana struck out to end the game.

Box Score

Wednesday’s scheduled games

  • Norfolk Tides vs. Durham Bulls, 6:35pm ET. Cole Irvin vs. TBD (International League Championship, Game 2)