TOLEDO, Ohio – Left-fielder Mike Yastrzemski hit a inside the park home run and Yefry Ramirez had his strongest pitching performance of the season as Norfolk came to Fifth Third Field and in front of 7,668 fans defeated the team with the best record in the International League, Toledo Mud Hens, 3-1.
Ramirez (3-4, 4.33 ERA) threw five shut-out innings for the Tides, only allowing three hits, while walking one and striking out five. Four relievers, including Zach Britton (in his third rehabilitation outing since coming off the DL), help preserve Ramirez’s outstanding performance and help keep Norfolk (31-26) in the top wild card spot.
Tyler Alexander (1-1, 6.75 ERA) went seven innings, giving up seven hits in the loss for the Mud Hens (37-22).
Norfolk did all of it’s offensive scoring with the first three batters in the top of the second. 1B Garabez Rosa reached on a single back up the middle. 2B Ruben Tejada twice tried to bunt Rosa over to second, but each attempt with foul and with a 1-2 count, he hit a sharp single to left field, advancing Rosa to second. Yastrzemski came up to the plate and on the first pitch from Alexander, he tried to bunt the runners over but was unsuccessful. On the very next pitch, he sent a ball into the deep center over CF Mikie Mathook’s head. With no hesitation at all, Yastrzemski rounded the bases for an inside the park home run (his third of the season) and gave Norfolk a 3-0 lead.
From there it was a pitching duel between the two starters. Ramirez only needed nine pitches to get through the first and his only stumbling block came in the bottom of the second. LF Christian Stewart ran the count full and then fouled off eight consecutive pitches before hitting a sharp line drive to right field on the 14th pitch of his at bat. Mathook reached on a fielder’s choice and then Tides C Caleb Joseph gunned him down as he attempted to steal second base. Ramirez was able to get Mud Hens DH Jason Krizan to ground out to end the second.
Toledo’s only run came off of Britton in the bottom of the sixth. 3B Ronny Rodriguez led off with a double and RF Mike Gerber followed with a single to bring in Rodriguez. Britton settled down after that as he 2B Dawel Lugo to ground into a double play before striking out Stewart to shut the Mud Hens down.
Jhan Marinez pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out one, earning his sixth save of the season.
Norfolk has now won two in a row after losing seven out of their last eight. The Tides are now 15-13 on the road (16-13 at home). They hold a half-game lead over the Indianapolis Indians for the wild card spot in the International League Standings. Indianapolis defeated Pawtucket, 8-1, on Friday night to remain right behind the Tides. Norfolk is only two and half games behind the Durham Bulls (34-25) as the Bulls defeated the Rochester Red Wings 2-1 Friday night.
Game two of the three game series in Toledo continues tomorrow night when Norfolk sends Jimmy Yacabonis (2-1, 3.01 ERA) up against Toledo’s A.J. Ladwig (5-1, 4.53 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm.