The hottest team right now among the Orioles' minor league affiliates is the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, who are 18-9, tied for first place with seven wins in a row and a have a 9-1 record over the last 10 games.
The Tides have not won eight games in a row since May 12-19, 2009 and the club record is 10 in a row, set July 23-30, 1969 - the first year the Tides were in the International League.
This is the first time Norfolk has been tied atop the International League's South Division since being 2-2 on April 11, 2010. A win tonight, combined with a Durham Bulls loss, would move the Tides into sole possession of first for the first time since being 54-43 on July 23, 2009.
The Tides enter play tonight with nine straight wins at Harbor Park, matching the longest streak in Harbor Park history. The last time Norfolk won nine straight home contests was during the 1993 campaign, the first year of Harbor Park. Norfolk lost its first three home games of 2013, but has rebounded by going 10-1 since.
Over the last seven games, Norfolk's starting pitchers have gone 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA. Tides starters have combined to strike out 45, while walking nine over those seven outings. Norfolk has six quality starts over that span.
Over his last nine games, LJ Hoes has hit .351 (13-for-37) with five doubles and 10 RBIs. Hoes, who was the Orioles' minor league Player of the Year in 2012, has five multi-hit games over his last nine contests.
With an RBI single yesterday, Jonathan Schoop has now reached base safely in each of his last 13 games. The 21-year-old Curacao native has hit .311 (14-for-45) with five doubles, 11 RBIs and a .404 on-base percentage over that stretch, which has included hits in 12 of 13 contests.
So Norfolk is playing good ball. The Tides' high-water mark last year was five games over .500. A win tonight behind Jair Jurrjens (2-1, 2.64 ERA) would move Norfolk 10 games over the .500 mark for the first time since Aug. 18, 2009.
Note on Erbe: The Milb.com website lists Brandon Erbe's status as released by Philadelphia. The former Oriole was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA this year over 10 innings between Single-A and Double-A.