Norfolk report: Tough times continue

No matter how poorly the 2006 campaign has gone for the Norfolk Tides, chances are that the on-field action won't get much worse than it did Monday against the Ottawa Lynx.

Holding a 4-3 lead going to the bottom of the eighth inning, Norfolk used three pitchers in a frame that saw the Lynx score 12 runs, sending 15 batters to the plate.

The inning was a record-setter for both clubs, as the three Tides pitchers – Anderson Garcia, Royce Ring and Steve Schmoll – allowed Norfolk's most runs ever in one inning.

The attack also set an Ottawa franchise record, helping lift the Lynx to a 15-5 victory over the slumping Tides.

Norfolk (38-64) has not won a series since they swept a two-game series from the Columbus Clippers June 28-29. Since then, the Tides have lost 16 of 21 games.

Making moves: Second baseman Ruben Gotay, acquired from the Kansas City Royals for utilityman Jeff Keppinger on June 19, has appeared in three games for Norfolk entering Tuesday's play.

Gotay, 23, is batting .250 (3-12) with two RBI for Norfolk. Previously, he has been with Triple-A Omaha of the Pacific Coast League, where he was batting .264 (89-337) with 45 runs scored, 16 doubles, two triples, nine home runs, 43 RBI, seven stolen bases with 26 walks and 67 strikeouts in 87 games.

Keppinger had batted .300 in 323 at-bats this year, living up to his reputation as a solid contact hitter. Still, Keppinger was never able to shake concerns about his lack of batting power and range, and his trade cleared an opportunity for 32-year-old Edgardo Alfonzo to gain more at-bats.

Alfonzo is batting .261 (6-23) with one run scored, one double and four RBI in six games for Norfolk, playing second base and third base.

Norfolk leaderboard, offense: Jeff Keppinger's .300 average, compiled at Norfolk, stands in fifth place among Mets farmhands. … As a club, Norfolk has batted .20, fifth-best in the system. The Tides lead the Mets system with 341 bases on balls.

Norfolk leaderboard, pitching: Willie Collazo (8-7) has compiled a 3.43 ERA through 126 innings, good for sixth in the system … Evan MacLane's 10 victories are tied with Binghamton's Mike Devaney for tops in the system. Collazo is third with eight wins … Royce Ring's nine saves are tied with Binghamton's Matt Lindstrom for fourth in the system … Collazo has 89 strikeouts, fourth in the organization, and MacLane is fifth with 76. … Norfolk's 4.46 staff ERA is the second-highest in the system. Norfolk has more losses (64), hits allowed (962) and home runs (75) than any other staff.

ON THE RISE

Infielder Chris Basak – whose playing time will only be helped by utilityman Chase Lambin's demotion to Binghamton – has responded with a hot July.

Basak, a 27-year-old infielder selected by the Mets in the sixth round of the 2000 draft, has batted .308 (16-52) in 17 games this month. Basak has four doubles, one home run and six RBI.

TOUGH TIMES

Sidearming reliever Steve Schmoll, who was acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers over the winter, has had a tough time getting International League hitters out this month.

The 26-year-old was roughed up for four runs and five hits in just one-third of an inning on Monday, the latest in a string of troublesome appearances.

Schmoll (3-3, 3.99 ERA) allowed three runs in two innings at Louisville on July 14 and two runs in an inning against Indianapolis on July 19, taking the loss in both games.


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