Archive for April, 2010

Thunder Take First Game In Erie

April 30, 2010

(PR) Erie, PA- A seventh inning rally sparked a come-from-behind victory for the Thunder against the Sea Wolves, as Trenton beat Erie 11-5 in the first game of their three game set. With the win, Trenton snaps a five game losing streak dating back to Saturday.

Erie’s bats came alive in the first two innings off RHP Ryan Pope. In total, they scored four runs, highlighted by a three-run home run by Justin Henry. The Sea Wolves would lead by as much as 5-2 before the Thunder bats came alive over the last four innings.

With a runner on first in the sixth inning, INF Brandon Laird hit a two-run home run over the right field wall to cut Erie’s lead to one. Then, the Thunder would tie the game and take the lead with three runs in the seventh off Erie reliever Jay Voss (0-1) and take a 7-5 lead. In the eighth, Edwar Gonzalez hit an RBI single to bring inReid Gorecki. Marcos Vechionacci reached base on a single to move Gonzalez to second, and then Luis Nunez brought everyone home with a three-run home run to give the Thunder an 11-5 lead.

Nunez finished the night 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBI. The Trenton bullpen led by Noel Castillo (1-2) faced the minimum in four innings in relief of Pope.

Trenton is now 5-0 against Erie in 2010. Overall, they improve to 10-11.

The Thunder and Sea Wolves play the second game of their series on Saturday afternoon, starting at 1:05 PM. LHP Jeremy Bleich starts for Trenton, and Erie will go with RHP LJ Gagnier.

Day Game Disaster

April 30, 2010

(PR) Trenton, NJ- The Trenton Thunder had a season high 15 hits but the New Hampshire Fisher Cats came out on top of a wild Thursday morning game, 14-12. New Hampshire swept the three game series and Trenton has now dropped five straight.

New Hampshire scored three times on one hit and two Thunder errors in the first inning. Trenton was able to get their first run of the game in the second inning when OF Edwar Gonzalez hit a triple and later scored on a ground out from Marcos Vechionacci to cut the Fisher Cat lead to 3-1.

The game took a bizarre turn over the next three innings, as the two teams combined to score 17 runs, including a disastrous fifth inning for Trenton. After the Thunder knocked in four runs in the bottom of the third, Mitchell allowed three runs in the top of the fourth to give New Hampshire a 6-5 lead. Trenton then scored three runs on three hits and two errors in the bottom frame. However, Mitchell surrendered seven earned runs on five hits, including two doubles the next inning. At the end of five innings, the Fisher Cats led 13-8.

The Thunder crawled back, scoring four runs in the seventh and eighth innings. INF Marcos Vechionacci hit a solo home run in the seventh, and after the Fisher Cats scored another run in the top of the eighth, Trenton rallied for three runs in the bottom half to cut the score to 14-12.

The score would stay that way, as New Hampshire closer Danny Farquhar retired Trenton in the ninth to pick up his league leading sixth save.

Brandon Laird went 3-for-3 in the loss. Trenton had a season-high 15 hits on the day.

With the loss, the Thunder fall to 9-11, and went just 1-6 on the homestand.

The Thunder hit the road and will travel to Erie for a three game series with the SeaWolves starting Friday night at 7:05 PM. RHP Ryan Pope will start for the Thunder, and the SeaWolves go with LHP Jon Kibler.

Game 19: Post-Game Notes

April 28, 2010

– Over their past two games, the Thunder are 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.  This is not good.  However, the bullpen hasn’t been good either.  After a decent start to the year, the bullpen is starting to look more like bull-something else.

Noel Castillo recovered from his lousy outing the other day with a 1-2-3 ninth.  However, that was after Wilkin De La Rosa’s eighth inning, in which he allowed three runs on two walks and four hits, including a long home run to Brian Jeroloman.

Thunder starters this year: 98 IP, 31 ER, 70 H, 45 BB, 77 K (2.84 ERA) (6-6)
Thunder relievers this year: 69 IP, 20 ER, 46 H, 37 BB, 70 K (2.69 ERA) (3-4)

Thunder relievers over the past 3 days: 12.1 IP, 12 ER, 22 H, 9 BB, 10 K (8.75 ERA) (0-3)

“We’ve had about a week, week and half’s worth of that,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin, when asked about his bullpen’s woes.

“It’s growing pains.  But we’d like to grow out of them as quick as we can.  We have to give these guys a chance to pitch.  They’re not going to be in comfortable situations all the time.  If you don’t make good pitches…you get hurt.  That’s what’s happened to us.”

I asked starter Lance Pendleton, who turned in a real solid six inning outing for the Thunder tonight, if there was a sense of frustration from the starters regarding the bullpen’s woes…

“The bullpen has been such a strength,” he told me.

“They’ve had a couple rough spells, but that’s baseball…our bullpen is very good.  I have confidence that they can get the job done when they come in after me.”

– Austin Romine’s on an 11-game hitting streak, and has obviously been hot as of late…he was the only Thunder batter with two hits tonight, and drove in Trenton’s only run.

– Another Austin, Austin Krum, stole his seventh base tonight, as did Daniel Brewer.  Edwar Gonzalez swiped his first bag of the year as well.  This team has some decent speed.

– Trenton had no extra-base hits tonight.  This tends to lead to losing.  The Thunder are now 9-10, and I’ve got to admit I’m a little surprised by that.  I thought this team would be better than this.  Maybe I was fooled by the good start against a pretty lousy Erie team…but looking at this team on paper before the season started, I didn’t think they’d be below .500 19 games into the year.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 19: New Hampshire @ Trenton

April 28, 2010

Game 19 – Akron Aeros @ Trenton Thunder
April 28, 2010
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: NH Bobby Bell vs. TRE Lance Pendleton

Starting Lineups:

FISHER CATS

Darin Mastroianni, CF
Callix Crabbe, 2B
David Cooper, 1B
Brad Emaus, 3B
Eric Thames, LF
Shawn Bowman, DH
Adam Loewen, RF
Jonathan Diaz, SS
Brian Jeroloman, C

Bobby Bell, P

THUNDER

Austin Krum, CF
Daniel Brewer, DH
David Adams, 2B
Austin Romine, C
Brandon Laird, 3B
Reid Gorecki, LF
Kevin Smith, 1B
Edwar Gonzalez, RF
Luis Nunez, SS

Lance Pendleton, P

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): Lance Pendleton with an 11 pitch, 9 strike inning to start the game…

Pretty uneventful here through 2 1/2…Pendleton with 43 pitches, 33 strikes through three.  0-0 game.

Austin Romine and David Cooper each with RBI singles here…Romine’s in the third and Cooper in the sixth.  1-1, B6.  Pendleton out, Josh Schmidt in.

Wilkin De La Rosa in for the 8th…

De La Rosa gives up three runs…4-1, NH, B8

In-Game Photos:

In-Game YouTube Videos: Check out my YouTube account for videos updated throughout the game…

Final Score: 4-1, Fisher Cats.

Thunder Thoughts:

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 19: Pre-Game Notes

April 28, 2010

6:30 PM — Spoke to Alan Horne for about 20 minutes today…stay tuned for that and the Austin Romine answers while the team is on the road.

5:50 PM — Here’s what Grant Duff had to say about the Habitat For Humanity event…

“We showed up there and went through orientation, they basically told us what the whole Habitat For Humanity organization is,” Duff said.

“I have a construction background as it is, so that’s why I decided to do it.  There was one guy who basically ran the whole job as a project manager, he asked if anyone had experience, and me and Wordekemper both had, so they put us in charge of a project and we kind of ran with it.”

Duff was in charge of framing boxes to put lattice up on one of the porches, but as he said, this is nothing new to him.  Duff’s father builds custom homes, and for six days a week and eight to ten hours a day in the off-season, Duff helps him out.

5:45 PM — Damon Sublett underwent thumb surgery yesterday and is out indefinitely, according to Tony Franklin.  Hearing he’s likely out for the year…was surgery to repair a torn ligament.

5:05 PM — Some of the Trenton Thunder players helped build a house today for Habitat For Humanity…here are a few pictures provided by the team.

Grant Duff

Justin Snyder and D.J. Mitchell

Eric Wordekemper

3:25 PM — Lineups are in, kids…

NH

Mastroianni, CF
Crabbe, 2B
Cooper, 1B
Emaus, 3B
Thames, LF
Bowman, DH
Loewen, RF
Diaz, SS
Jeroloman, C

Bell, P

TRENTON

Krum, CF
Brewer, DH
Adams, 2B
Romine, C
Laird, 3B
Gorecki, LF
Smith, 1B
Gonzalez, RF
Nunez, SS

Pendleton, P

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 18: Post-Game Notes

April 28, 2010

– It was really freaking cold.

– Starting pitcher efficiency has got to get better on this team.  David Phelps needed 93 pitches to get through just five innings tonight.  Seems a lot of guys are kind of hitting that five or six inning barrier with the amount of pitches they’re given, and that’s got to improve.  The bullpen’s been shaky lately, sure…but they’ve also been a bit overworked as well.

– Austin Romine just loves driving the ball to the gaps, eh?  He had two more doubles tonight, one each to the left and right field gaps.  The ball to left just missed getting out of the yard.

– Can’t believe Austin Krum bit on the fake pickoff move by Bubbie Buzachero.  The move that never works…worked.  I honestly could not tell if Luis Nunez was safe or not, but Tony Franklin sure seemed to think he was, as did several people with better vantage points than myself.  Suffice it to say, Franklin will not have this umpiring crew on his Christmas list…same group that tossed he and Romine the other day.

– I think this team is better than 9-9…whereas last year’s team would have killed to get to .500 towards the end of last season and probably weren’t that good. 

– Both Reid Gorecki and Kevin Smith are struggling, each hitting under .200.  I never, ever thought I’d say this…but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Marcos Vechionacci get a real shot to take the first base job.  I actually…and, again…I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I like Nacci at first base.  Smith holds a mean glove at first as well, but Marcos has actually impressed me with his play there.  As for Gorecki, I noticed he was trying a new bat during batting practice…not sure if he used it during the game.  He was using a Robinson Cano model during BP…I usually see him with a Louisville Slugger with his name on it.

– Check out my gamer in The Trentonian, as well as a side story on Damon Sublett’s thumb injury and Edwar Gonzalez’s activation.  My work in the paper will decrease a bit, so the blog will pick back up and all will be well.

– As I mentioned in the pre-game stuff, Romine spent about five minutes before the game answering some of your questions.  I couldn’t get to all of them…but we banged out a lot of them.  Who do you guys want to talk to next?

– Chatted with Christian Garcia a bit tonight.  He says the elbow is pain free.  That reminds me to give Alan Horne a ring and see how he’s doing as well.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 18: Pre-Game Notes

April 27, 2010

5:50 PM — Lineups…

NH

Mastroianni, CF
Calderone, DH
Cooper, 1B
Emaus, 2B
Thames, LF
Bowman, 3B
Loewen, RF
Diaz, SS
Jeroloman, C

Stewart, P

TRE

Krum, CF
Brewer, RF
Adams, 2B
Romine, C
Laird, 3B
Gorecki, LF
Smith, 1B
Gonzalez, DH
Nunez, SS

Phelps, P

5:45 PM — Austin Romine has answered your questions, kids.  Stay tuned for that.  Sublett’s injury…it is a thumb injury, and came from swinging the bat.  Nobody seems to know how long he’ll be out.  Tonight’s my last Trentonian game for a while…so no updates during the game tonight.

5:10 PM — Yup, it’s Damon Sublett to the DL with what appears to be a serious thumb injury.

5:00 PM — Edwar Gonzalez has been activated from the DL…I don’t want to report the other half of the move until I can 1000% confirm it.  But it appears to be injury related…

3:15 PM — There’s some sort of mysterious roster move here, let me get that for you.  Also, Marty McLeary was called up to Las Vegas a few days ago, must have missed that…I’m still curious to see who they have in that rotation that has both Stewart and Drabek in Double-A, though.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Different Strokes For Different Folks

April 27, 2010

Mike, why is there a picture of the cast of Different Strokes on here?  Well, loyal reader, why not?

Now that I have your attention, let’s take a look at the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, shall we?  Any storyline you could possibly want, the Fisher Cats have got.

Top prospect?  Check. 

23-year-old righty starter Zach Stewart will take the ball later today for New Hampshire, and is listed by Baseball America as the Blue Jays No. 1 prospect, pitching or otherwise.  Drafted in the third round by the Reds in 2008, he was dealt to Toronto last season in the Scott Rolen trade.  With a 1-1 record and 7.71 ERA in two starts so far this season, he hasn’t gotten off to the start he was looking for,  but with a fastball that can light up the radar gun around 95 MPH, it seems safe to say that will turn around for him pretty soon.

New Hampshire also has top prospects RP Danny Farquhar (14), RP Tim Collins (19), RP Trystan Magnuson (22), SP Luis Perez (15), INF David Cooper (4) and OF Eric Thames (18).  Perez is slated to pitch during Thursday’s ridiculous 10:35 AM start.

Former sure-thing Phillie who got dealt in the Roy Halladay deal?  Check.

Kyle Drabek was listed as the Phillies second best prospect heading into this season…thing is, he didn’t end up with the Philadelphia organization come April.  Considered to be the key piece in the off-season deal that brought Roy Halladay to Citizens Bank Ballpark, the son of Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek will again avoid the mound at Waterfront Park…he didn’t set foot on it while he was with Reading, and he isn’t scheduled to pitch during this series, either.

Former Thunder fan favorite?  Check.

Marty McLeary was a little-known 25-year-old righty reliever when he first joined the Trenton Thunder all the way back in 2000.  He spent all of that year at Waterfront Park, and then parts of the following two seasons there as well. 

He comes back to Trenton as a 35-year-old veteran who got into a handful of games with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Diego Padres. 

Reclamation project?  Check.

Adam Loewen was once the top prospect in the Baltimore Orioles organization and one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.  Now, he’s in his second year as an outfielder after spending parts of three largely unsuccessful seasons as a pitcher while wearing orange in the big leagues.

Since it’s pretty much never seen the light of day, here’s an unedited feature from 2007 that I wrote on Loewen while he was with the Bowie Baysox.  It shows you just how highly thought of this kid was as a pitcher.

Dominating.

It’s the word that his teammates use to describe him, and Baltimore Orioles pitcher Adam Loewen has certainly lived up to that billing this season.

“He’s got a dominating fastball, a dominating curveball and a dominating changeup,” said Jeff Fiorentino, his teammate with the Double-A Bowie Baysox.

Make that former teammate, as Loewen got the call that both he and Orioles fans had been waiting for since the day he signed with the club in 2003, the call to the big leagues.

He made his big league debut the same day he was called up, May 23rd, facing the closest thing the Canadian-born southpaw has to a hometown team, the Seattle Mariners. He started out strong, getting Richie Sexson to strike out looking for his first out in the show. But it all went downhill from there.

Looking nothing like the pitcher who went 4-2 with a 2.72 ERA with Bowie, he walked Carl Everett and then hit Adrian Beltre with a pitch before giving up an RBI single to Kenji Johjima. He was quickly yanked in favor of O’s reliever Todd Williams, and while they certainly won’t last, his current big league statistics aren’t indicative of what the team expects from Loewen down the road.

0.1 IP, 27.00 ERA, 1 K, 1 BB

What they are expecting, however, is the pitcher who threw seven and two thirds of innings of no-hit ball against the Reading Phillies on April 7th, striking out 12 with no walks.

Fiorentino, who had the best seat in the house for that performance out in left field, says that Loewen not only mystified most of the batters in that Phillies lineup, but does it on a regular basis.

“You can just watch him one time and you’ll see that he just dominates five to six players in the lineup,” Fiorentino said. “There’s five or six players in every team’s lineup that will not touch him. It’s just a matter of if he doesn’t walk him or if he doesn’t let the other three guys hurt him.”

Loewen was the highest drafted Canadian-born player in the history of the Major League Baseball draft, as the Orioles took him with their 4th overall selection in 2002. After contentious negotiations led to Loewen signing just hours before a deadline that would have sent him back into the draft, Loewen says he was just relieved to start his professional career.

“I always knew that I wanted to play for the Orioles,” he said. “I didn’t want to wait another summer to negotiate, I just wanted to go out there and play.”

The deal that Loewen did end up receiving led to quite a windfall, with the then-19-year-old receiving a signing bonus of $4.2 million dollars. But despite his wallet expanding faster than the strike zone in a downpour, Loewen hasn’t let that get to his head.

“It was a great privilege to see that much money when I signed,” Loewen said. “There were jokes early on in my career, but now that I’ve gone up a few levels and been around a little bit in my career, people don’t really bring it up.”

But while it was a part of the conversation when he signed, it became the focal point when he struggled in his first full season in professional baseball.

“My first full season in Delmarva was a pretty rough year,” Loewen said. “I had no control, and I’d never gone through anything like that before. I wasn’t the best control pitcher, but I had above average control before I signed professionally, so that was tough to go through.”

Loewen ended up going 4-5 with an ERA a little over four in twenty games that year. Average numbers for an average pitcher, this was unacceptable for a player destined for stardom. But that star almost never took off, according to Loewen.

“I got injured twice that year,” he said. “Any time your arm’s not feeling well, it’s cause for concern, and I just didn’t know how good my future in professional baseball was going to be at that point.”

Thankfully, that future brightened after he participated in the aptly named 2005 Futures Game, held in conjunction with the Major League Baseball All-Star Game. It was there in Detroit’s Comerica Park where he showed Orioles fans what he could do, coming into the game with two runners on and nobody out and getting the save to give the World team the win. It was here, Loewen says, where he finally got some much needed confidence to get him out of his first-half funk.

“I was pretty nervous, because there were two guys on and I was really struggling with the high-A club,” said Loewen, pitching for Frederick at the time of the game. “Coming in there with two guys and nobody out and pulling out the save, it gave me a lot of confidence for the second half of the season.”

After putting together a strong second half, Loewen pitched for Peoria of the Arizona Fall League and for his native Canada in an Olympic qualifying tournament. But it was the next time he put on the red and white of his homeland that put him on the map, at least in the United States, that is.

Facing the heavily favored Americans in the World Baseball Classic, Loewen was masterful on the mound, throwing three and two thirds innings of three-hit ball against a USA lineup that included Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Chipper Jones. But it was another one of their hitters that made Loewen realize the magnitude of the game he was in.

“When I was facing all those guys, I was really trying to block out who was in the box, but it was hard to do,” he said. “I think when Ken Griffey, Jr. stepped in the box, it really hit me who I was facing. I grew up watching him, I lived two hours from Seattle, so we were always watching him. Getting to face him was a real neat experience for me.”

After that performance, there was a large contingent of fans that thought Loewen would start out the season in Baltimore, making the same jump that Fiorentino did one year earlier. But, showing patience with their top prospect, the Orioles front office instead assigned him to Double-A, putting him under the tutelage of Baysox pitching coach Scott McGregor.

McGregor, the Orioles Hall of Famer who spent all 13 of his big league seasons in Baltimore, has worked with Loewen in both Single-A and Double-A, and the teacher sees a bright future for his student.

“He’s going to be a special one, I think he really is,” McGregor said. “He’s a very intense kid out there, and he’s got above average stuff.”

With McGregor entrusted with the most heralded left arm in recent memory for Orioles fans, a lot of his time has been spent trying to help the 6’ 6” lefty fine tune his delivery.

“He’s a big, tall kid and it takes him a little while to figure his motion out and get a consistent release point so he can be consistent in the strike zone. I think that’s probably the biggest thing for him this year, he’s been very consistent. Even his bad starts have been all right.”

When asked to compare Loewen to a player he played with during his time in Baltimore, McGregor looked to another pitcher who had more than his fair share of bad starts early on in his career.

“We didn’t have any big, tall left-handers like that, but we did have a big, tall right-hander in Jim Palmer,” he said. “I had him come in and talk to the pitchers the other day, and he talked about his early days when he couldn’t command the strike zone and led the league in strikeouts, walks and wild pitches. But he just worked on it until he was able to keep the ball down in the zone.”

Palmer, another career Oriole who went on to become one of the best pitchers in the modern era after his early struggles, says there’s just one problem with that comparison.

“I got $50,000 and he got $4.2 million, so I guess we don’t really compare,” said the Hall of Famer with a laugh.

But while nobody’s putting the name Adam Loewen and “Hall of Fame” in the same sentence just yet, the man who is in Cooperstown has taken notice of the improvement Loewen has made since posting a robust ERA of 81.00 in his three spring training appearances in 2004.

“I haven’t really seen him pitch in a game since Spring Training a couple years ago, but he’s throwing the ball a lot better,” Palmer said. “I would think with the way the Orioles are going this year with some of their starters, you’ll see him this year.”

With the O’s starting pitching bordering on pathetic, Palmer proved prophetic, with Loewen making his big league debut a few days after being asked about the 22-year-old prospect.

So whether he turns out to be the next Jim Palmer or the next Alvie Shepherd, it appears Orioles fans will finally be getting the chance to make their own comparisons after three long years of waiting.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Garcia Undergoes Second Tommy John Surgery

April 25, 2010

Times of Trenton beat writer John Nalbone has got the story of Christian Garcia’s Tommy John surgery, which took place on Tuesday in New York.

While it was widely assumed that Garcia would be forced to undergo another TJ surgery, it had not been confirmed until now.  Garcia lasted just 69 pitches this season, leaving the Thunder’s Opening Day game after experiencing a pinching sensation in his elbow following a 1-1 changeup.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Bullpen Blows Up After Solid Bleich Start

April 25, 2010

I’ll update this after I get the team’s release…but Trenton pulled off a come-from-ahead loss against Portland this afternoon, 9-5.

Jeremy Bleich lasted just five innings, but allowed only two runs on two walks and four hits.

Josh Schmidt pitched a scoreless sixth, but things absolutely fell apart after that.  Wilkin De La Rosa and Noel Castillo combined to give up seven runs on seven hits and four walks…five of those runs belonged to Castillo, who again has struggled in Trenton.  He falls to 0-2 and sports a lofty 11.57 ERA.

Austin Romine, Brandon Laird, Luis Nunez and Marcos Vechionacci each had two hits for Trenton in the loss.

UPDATE: Here’s the release…

(PR) Trenton, NJ- In a game that stayed close all afternoon and was then broken wide open in the ninth, the Thunder came up on the short end, falling to the Sea Dogs 9-5 on Sunday. With the loss, Trenton is now 9-7on the season.

After both teams exchanged one run each in the first inning, Juan Apodaca hit a solo home run off Thunder LHP Jeremy Bleich over the right field wall to make it 2-1 Portland.

Trenton came back to take the lead in the third inning with two runs off Portland LHP Felix Doubront. Austin Krum walked with one out, and scored on a RBI double by Austin Romine. The next hitter, Brandon Laird, singled in Romine and made it 3-2 Trenton.

Marcos Vechionacci’s RBI single in the sixth inning made it 4-2 Thunder, and Trenton seemed to be in command going into the seventh inning. However, LHP Wilkin De La Rosa came on in relief and allowed two runs off four Portland hits, and the game was tied at four.

RHP Noel Castillo (0-2) came out to pitch the ninth inning and the first two batters reached base on a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Portland’s Lars Anderson then punished Castillo for his miscues, launching a three-run home run over the right field wall to give Portland a 7-4 lead. It was the second home run in the series for Anderson, and two more runs would end up coming around to score for the Sea Dogs in the inning.

The Thunder got one run back in the bottom of the ninth inning before Daniel Brewer would fly out to end the game.

After an off day on Monday, the Thunder will welcome in the New Hampshire Fisher Cats on Tuesday to start a three game series from Waterfront Park. RHP David Phelps will get the start for Trenton. New Hampshire counters with RHP Zach Stewart. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 PM.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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