The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees and Norfolk Tides are old teams with new looks this spring, each making its debut with a new affiliate. While most of the buzz surrounded the Yankees and their first game in The Electric City, it was Norfolk that emerged with a 7-5 victory before a sellout crowd of 10,310.
The Tides erupted for five runs in the top of the eighth inning, erasing a two-run deficit. Norfolk collected hits off T.J. Beam and Colter Bean, with right fielder Luis Montanez's two-run homer off Bean serving as the inning's punctuating blow. Designated hitter J.R. House drove in a run with a blooper and Mike Cervenak added an RBI single, tagging Beam with the loss as New York chairman of the board Stephen Swindal and general manager Brian Cashman looked on.
"If you had told me there were going to be 12 runs in this game, I would have laughed," Tides manager Gary Allenson said. "The temperature dropped out there and I was expecting a 1-0, 2-1 game because it was so cold. You have so much clothing on and when you hit the ball, if you don't hit it right on the barrel, your hands go numb. But we hit a couple right on the barrel.
"We placed some good hits in some good spots, though. You couldn't have thrown J.R.'s hit out there any better. It was a nice one to get out of the way."
Jon Knott, who had 32 homers and 113 RBIs last season with Portland of the Pacific Coast League, gave Norfolk an early lead in the fourth inning. Yankees starter Tyler Clippard, who tied for third last season in all of the Minor Leagues with 17 hit batters, plunked Cervenak to lead off the inning. He went to a full count on Knott, who deposited a hanging breaking ball over the fence in left-center to make it 2-0.
Norfolk starter Hayden Penn lost his perfect game in the bottom of the inning, issuing a leadoff walk to Kevin Thompson. He also walked Kevin Reese and, after the runners moved up to second and third following a sacrifice and a steal, Penn lost his no-hitter. Angel Sanchez lined a 3-2 pitch back up the middle, scoring both runners to tie the score.
Clippard survived a shaky fifth before giving way to Beam in the sixth. He struck out three and walked two in his 91-pitch effort. Penn also called it an evening after five innings, closing out his performance after throwing 80 pitches.
"Penn threw great," Allenson said. "He just got out of rhythm there and started falling toward our dugout."
The Yankees forged ahead in the bottom of the seventh, scoring a pair of runs off Steve Green (1-0). Chris Basak singled in former top pick Eric Duncan before scoring on Raul Chavez's RBI single. While it appeared that it would all make for a happy ending on the celebratory night, it simply set the stage for Norfolk's explosion in the eighth.