DURHAM, N.C. (WAVY) – With some of the top prospects in the minors, the Norfolk Tides, even with likely callups to the big leagues, have high expectations for the 2023 season.

And despite a subpar outing from top pitching prospect Grayson Rodriguez, the Tides did something they haven’t done since 2007 – win on opening day. That, by the way, was their first season as a Baltimore Orioles’ affiliate.

Norfolk (1-0), behind a three-run homer from Connor Norby in the second and a two-run homer from Josh Lester in the fourth, beat the Durham Bulls (0-1) 6-4 Friday before 8,733 at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

Though it was a pitching matchup among top prospects – Rodriguez and the Bulls’ Taj Bradley – both did not get out unscathed.

Rodriguez was tagged for a two-run homer from René Pinto in the bottom of the first, but Norby answered in the top of the second with his three-run blast to put the Tides up 3-2.

The Bulls tied the game up in the bottom of the third when Osleivis Basabe roped an RBI single. But the Tides retook the lead in the fourth when Ryan O’Hearn hit an RBI single, followed by Lester’s home run to give the Tides a 6-3 lead.

Rodriguez exited the game after the fourth after throwing 75 pitches, 48 for strikes, allowing three runs (two earned) on four hits, four walks and two strikeouts. Durham’s Bradley ended up exiting after the second inning, with Norfolk batters forcing him to throw 55 pitches.

The Bulls scored once more in the sixth, but it wasn’t enough, as the Tides got three innings of no-hit relief from three different pitchers to pick up the win.

Kyle Dowdy, who came on for Rodriguez in the fifth, picked up the win. He allowed three hits and walked one while striking out three and giving up an earned run in two innings, picked up the win.

Game two of the series is at 1:05 p.m. Saturday, with the Tides starting left-hander Bruce Zimmerman, who will go up against Durham’s righty Cooper Criswell.

Rising Tides

  • Josh Lester’s homer was a 440-foot blast.
  • Ryan O’Hearn’s debut for the Tides and the Orioles organization was a success, going 2-for-5 with a double, a run and an RBI.
  • Norby led the Orioles farm system in 2022 with 29 homers.
  • Jordan Westburg went 2-for-5 for Norfolk
  • Three Tides’ relievers shut the door against Durham, as Reed Garrett, Nick Vespi and Joey Krehbiel combined to no-hit the Bulls while striking out five and walking just one. Krehbiel picked up his first save of the season.


WILD WILD WEST: Another Tide to ecord multiple hits was Jordan Westburg, who went 2-for-5…Westburg led the Tides last year with 27 multi-hit games.