Saunders homers as Tides drop series opener

Charlotte racks up 17 strikeouts as Tides fall 4-1

Michael Saunders hit his first home run as a Tide in Monday night's setback. (Steven Goldburg/Norfolk Tides)

By Norfolk Tides | April 9, 2018 10:21 PM ET

Michael Saunders belted his first home run as a Tide, but Charlotte limited Norfolk to a single run on six hits in a 4-1 win over the Tides Monday night at Harbor Park. 

Saunders, signed by Baltimore as a free agent on April 2nd, lined a leadoff homer into the right field party deck leading off the sixth frame for his first hit of the 2018 season. The 31-year-old veteran, who was an American League All-Star with Toronto in 2016, provided Norfolk's lone offensive output on the night as the Tides dropped the opener of the three-game set. 

Norfolk starter Jayson Aquino (0-1) took the loss in his season debut, allowing three runs - two earned - on five hits over four-plus innings of work. He struck out three and walked three in the outing, but surrendered two first inning runs and an unearned run in the fifth frame to take the loss. Aquino, who posted a 4.24 ERA in 21 starts with Norfolk last season, threw 49 of his 77 pitches for strikes. 

Charlotte starter Michael Kopech, who entered the season ranked as the #10 prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com, turned in an impressive outing but did not factor in the decision. The 21-year-old right-hander struck out eight over four shutout innings, walking two while allowing two hits. Rob Scahill (1-0) earned the win in relief of Kopech, while Robbie Ross Jr. and Thyago Vieira followed with three innings of scoreless relief to cap off the victory. 

Andrew Susac doubled and walked twice to help pace Norfolk's offense, while Engelb Vielma added a triple. 

The two clubs will continue their three-game set on Tuesday night at Harbor Park, with first pitch slated for 6:35. Jimmy Yacabonis is scheduled to make the start for Norfolk and be opposed by left-hander T.J. House.  

Notes: Earlier Monday, the Orioles recalled RHP Hunter Harvey to Baltimore from Double-A Bowie. Harvey took the roster spot of LHP Tanner Scott, who was optioned to Norfolk… The two teams combined for 13 walks and 24 strikeouts, as the 4-1 contest was played in three hours and 16 minutes…Alex Presley singled and walked twice…Jason Gurka and Joely Rodriguez each threw two shutout innings of relief…Norfolk went 0-7 with runners in scoring position and is now 0-13 with RISP this season. 

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This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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