Baseball is just the absolute best when you get to watch it live and in person. It’s great any other time, don’t get me wrong. But venturing to the ballpark, getting your hot dog and a beer, and settling in to watch your team do good things? Yeah, that’s the good stuff.
The Catch made the trip up to Norfolk for yesterday’s game against the Tides. And boy what a great decision that turned out to be! The Jumbo Shrimp went behind early, used some timely home runs to take the lead, and then executed flawless fundamentals in the 10th Inning to come away with a 5-4 win to extend their winning streak to four games. The Jumbo Shrimp now stand at 11-4, tied with Scranton for the best record in Triple-A baseball.
Thursday’s game was the first at Harbor Park for The Catch. (Nice park, needs some updates, concessions were way too expensive) In fact, it was the first time I’ve ever been to Norfolk, despite spending a few years living not entirely too far away. If you haven’t been there, you need to go. It’s a nice town with an amazing harbor, and it’s pretty neat to be so close up to gigantic aircraft carriers. I know we get our share of US Navy ships in Jax, but never so close up.
As for the game itself, the 12:05 pm start was a quick turnaround for the teams. The Jumbo Shrimp jumped on Norfolk starter Alex Wells in the first inning, with Monte Harrison and Jorge Alfaro each singling. After a Jesús Sánchez fly out, J.D. Osborne then flew out to left. Unfortunately, Harrison had been running on the pitch, had no idea about the fly ball, and was easily doubled up at second. I highlight this as it was a mental error and complete rally killer, yet won’t show up in the box score.
I’m going to stop here to talk a little more about Monte Harrison. He looks lost at the plate. He’s swinging (badly) at junk, and is starting to argue with the umpire on called strikes. Even when he makes contact, there doesn’t seem to be much pop. He still has plus speed, and his defense is solid. Maybe a roving hitting instructor needs to work with him? Whatever it happens to be, he needs to get sorted out at the plate, and pronto.
In the Bottom of the 1st, Norfolk took a 2-0 lead on a Brett Cumberland home run.
Jacksonville took a 4-2 lead in the 4th inning with a pair of home runs. The amazing Jesús Sánchez launched an effortless solo homer, while Luis Marte hit a 3-run bomb. It was exactly the type of inning we have come to expect from the Shrimp: runs in bunches.
The Sánchez home run was just fun to watch. Easy swing and a ball that just seemed to keep going and going. Watching Marlins Twitter light up after the home run was equally entertaining.
Norfolk pulled one back in the bottom of the 4th through an Austin Wynns home run off of Jax starter Daniel Castano.
Castano was in good form despite giving up 10 hits to the Tides. He was left in probably a batter or two too long, which is a shame, as he was in line for the win. He was pulled right after allowing the game tying run in the bottom of the 6th inning.
Both teams seemed to tire slightly in the latter innings as neither seemed able to mount a threat. The Shrimp seemed baffled facing Norfolk reliever Mickey Jannis. Despite not throwing anything faster than about 77 mph – seriously, that’s what it was – the Shrimp simply couldn’t get a hit off of him.
The teams were deadlocked at 4 after 9 innings, so extras were needed to decide matters.
In the 10th, the Shrimp executed the perfect minor league extra innings strategy. Bunt to move the automatic runner from second to third. Then hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the runner. Just like that, you have a one-run lead.
Steven Okert shut the Tides down in the bottom of the 10th to give the Jumbo Shrimp a well deserved win.
As I noted above, the Jumbo Shrimp have now won four in a row and sit at 11-4 atop the Southeast Division standings. The team looks like they are having fun while doing well. Now it’s just a question of how long this team stays intact before the Marlins reach down for some players. Hopefully they will let these guys keep winning for a while so they want to keep winning once they get to the big leagues.
Navy Town Showdown update: Jax – 7 Norfolk – 2.
The Jumbo Shrimp and Tides go at it once against tonight at 7:05 pm. Can the Shrimp make it five in a row? Whatever happens, we’ll be sure to tell you about it.
Go Shrimp Go!