Results tagged ‘ Steve Johnson; Scott Mathieson ’
Sometimes, in any competition, you simply have to admit that your opponents just flat-out were better than you were on that day. Last night, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs beat the Tides, 6-3, not because the Tides played poorly, but because Lehigh Valley played better.
Steve Johnson was the Tides’ starting pitcher. In the games I saw him pitch earlier in the season, he was a tentative nibbler, seemingly afraid to throw pitches where the batters might hit them. He would end up walking many of those batters, frustrating all the Tides’ fans. Last night, he pitched with more confidence and only walked three in 6 2/3 innings. The IronPigs got ten hits off him, but he wasn’t tossing lollipops for the IronPigs to tee off on; they just hit good pitches hard and where fielders couldn’t get to them. Defensively, the Tides committed no errors. Right fielder Tyler Henson did fail to pick up a base hit near the right-field line cleanly, but it wasn’t a guarantee that he’d have thrown the runner out at second and the next batter grounded out to end the inning. The Tides weren’t good at holding runners on, as the IronPigs stole three bases – but the Tides also picked two runners off base. This was a case of Lehigh Valley hitting well, not Norfolk pitching and fielding badly.
The Tides’ offensive struggles were caused by the often-dominant pitching of IronPigs starter Scott Mathieson, who allowed one run and struck out eight in seven innings. Mathieson combined sharp control of a mid-to-high-90’s fastball and solid command of offspeed breaking stuff to keep the Tides at bay. It’s unlikely that even the Boston Red Sox would have had much success against Mathieson. He was just on his game.
The Tides loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth inning, trailing 5-1. The Tides got two runs out of it, so it wasn’t a failure, but of course in the context of the game it wasn’t enough. Yet the Tides batters did about as well as they could. The first batter after they loaded the bases was Kyle Hudson, who hit a high chopper near third. IronPigs third baseman made an outstanding play to pluck the ball out of the air and race to third for a run-scoring forceout. After a wild pitch put runners on second and third, Ryan Adams hit the ball hard to the outfield. Unfortunately for the Tides, the right fielder caught the ball and the Tides settled for a sacrifice fly. Here, too, both Hudson and Adams made solid efforts to keep the rally going, but good defense and bad luck stopped them.
So, even though the Tides lost, nobody in the press box was seriously upset. The Tides played a good game, and they just got beaten by a team that played better. I think we can all live with that. It’s very frustrating when your team loses because they play badly; when your team plays well but still loses, we just tip our caps to the other guys and move on.