SERIES RECAP: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS @ NORFOLK TIDES, MAY 15-17
The Norfolk Tides returned home to Harbor Park on Wednesday night for a three game series against the Indianapolis Indians. The club dropped two out of three games, but starting pitcher Yefry Ramirez and infielder Drew Dosch each made significant contributions.
SCOUTING THE OPPOSITION: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS
The Indianapolis Indians are the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Indians entered the first game of the series at 18-16, good for second place in the International League West and 4.5 games behind the first place Toledo Mud Hens. The team features four of the Pirates’ top 30 prospects as ranked by MLB’s Prospect Pipeline: outfielder Austin Meadows (2), shortstop Kevin Newman (7), second baseman Kevin Kramer (8), and outfielder Jordan Luplow (22). The Indians’ offense ranks first in the International League in team batting average and combined on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS). Shortstop Kevin Newman was the reigning International League Player of the Week, having posted a fantastic batting line of .519/.552/.778 for the previous week’s games.
RECAPPING THE SEASON TO DATE: NORFOLK TIDES
The Tides entered the series with the Indians in second place in the International League South with a record of 19-15, 1.5 games behind the division-leading Durham Bulls. After an April that saw the club tread water with a record of 11-10, the club enjoyed an 8-5 start to May behind the bats of third baseman Drew Dosch and catcher Andrew Susac, who entered the Indianapolis series hitting .320 on the year, including a .433 average against right-handed pitching.
The Tides feature five of the Orioles top 30 prospects: outfielder D.J. Stewart (11), left-handed pitcher Chris Lee (12), right-handers David Hess and Yefry Ramirez (16 and 17, respectively) and catcher Austin Wynns (22).
INDIVIDUAL GAME RECAPS
Indianapolis 10, Norfolk 8
A late comeback from the Tides fell just short on Tuesday night, as they were defeated by Indianapolis 10-8. A 10-run second inning doomed Norfolk starting pitcher Chris Lee, who exited after 1.2 innings pitched having given up seven runs (four earned). Reliever Jhan Marinez gave up three runs in 3.1 innings of relief, though none were earned. The Tides scored eight unanswered runs between the 3rd and 7th innings, but failed to push home any more in the 8th or 9th.
Center fielder Mike Yastrzemski went 3-4 and finished a home run shy of the cycle in his 2018 Tides debut after a promotion from AA Bowie. Third baseman Drew Dosch had three hits, including a pair of doubles.
Norfolk 4, Indianapolis 3
Third baseman Renato Nunez had three RBIs, including a walk-off base hit, as the Tides fended off a ninth inning Indianapolis rally en route to a 4-3 victory on a rainy Wednesday night. Tides starter Yefry Ramirez twirled seven shutout innings while allowing only one hit, while Nunez and left fielder Jaycob Brugman staked the Tides to an early 3-0 lead with RBI hits in the third and fourth innings. Reliever Andrew Faulkner pitched a clean eighth, but a pair of Indianapolis singles in the ninth prompted Tides manager Ron Johnson to call on Matt Wotherspoon out of the bullpen.
Wotherspoon immediately surrendered a three-run homer to Indians outfielder Jordan Luplow to tie the game, though the right-hander worked his way out of trouble by recording the final two outs to send the game to the bottom half of the frame still tied at 3. An inning opening single by Brugman in the bottom of the ninth of off newly-entered Indians reliever Bo Schultz was followed by a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Adrian Marin and an intentional walk to center fielder Mike Yastrzemski, paving the way for Nunez to line a ball into the left field corner to easily score Brugman from second and send Norfolk home with the win.
Indianapolis 6, Norfolk 0
Indianapolis starter Clay Holmes blanked the Tides on Thursday afternoon, tossing six shutout innings while allowing only two hits. Both Holmes and Norfolk starter Jimmy Yacabonis were forced to work around a 33-minute rain delay in the top of the fourth inning.
Yacabonis worked through the fourth inning, striking out three and having needed to work in and out of trouble. The Indians scored their first run in the sixth inning after outfielder Jordan Ludlow hit a ringing double off of Tides reliever Jason Gurka to plate Kevin Kramer from first base. Indianapolis left fielder Chris Bostick launched a solo homer to right field off of reliever Jhan Marinez in the eighth to jump start a four-run inning and cement the Indians’ lead. Tides DH Drew Dosch lined a double into left-center field to continue his hot streak, having now hit safely in nine of his last ten games. Norfolk reliever Jason Gurka exited the game in the eighth inning with an apparent groin injury after throwing three innings.
RISING TIDE: TOP POSITION PLAYER OF THE SERIES
Drew Dosch, 3B/DH: 12 AB, 4 H, 3 2B, 2 R, 1 BB
Dosch, the Orioles’ seventh-round draft pick in 2013 out of Youngstown State, maintained his torrid hitting pace during the series against the Indians. The left-handed swinging Dosch’s 10 doubles in 2018 places him fifth in the International League in that category despite having played in just 22 of the Tides’ 37 games.
He hit in the middle of the batting order in all three games, playing third base in Wednesday’s contest and then serving as the designated hitter to accommodate newly-acquired third baseman Renato Nunez in the final two games of the series. Manager Ron Johnson noted on the radio pregame show that he hopes to occasionally use Dosch, who has been a third baseman throughout his minor league career, at first base moving forward.
RISING TIDE: TOP PITCHER OF THE SERIES
Yefry Ramirez, RHP: 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 7 K, 1 H, 0 BB
Ramirez, the Orioles’ number 17 prospect, dominated over seven innings on Wednesday night and gave much-needed rest to the Norfolk bullpen. He allowed only one hit, a first inning infield single to the red-hot Kevin Newman, and struck out seven hitters. Ramirez faced only two matters over the minimum and worked both sides of the plate with a fastball in the low 90’s and a mid-80’s slider. He also made an impressive play in the first inning, quickly getting off of the mound to foil a drag bunt attempt from left fielder Chris Bostick. Ramirez needed just 81 pitches to get through seven innings, throwing 54 strikes in the process. The Orioles acquired the 24-year old Ramirez from the New York Yankees at last year’s trade deadline in exchange for international signing bonus money.
UP NEXT FOR THE TIDES
The Tides welcome the Louisville Bats, the AAA affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, to Harbor Park for a three-game weekend series starting Friday night. The Bats feature the No. 6 prospect in all of Minor League Baseball in infielder Nick Senzel but come to Norfolk with the worst record in the International League. The Tides will send Tim Melville (5-0, 2.97 ERA) to the mound on Friday against the Bats’ Robert Stephenson (2-4, 3.93). Following the series with the Bats, the team will begin an eight-game road trip to play the Charlotte Knights and Toledo Mud Hens.