Archive for August 29th, 2010

Extra! Extra! Thunder Lose In…Ummm…Extras

August 29, 2010

(PR) Harrisburg, PA- Jesus Valdez’s RBI single in the bottom of the tenth inning brought home Josh Johnson, and the Senators came from behind to beat the Thunder 6-5 in extra innings on Sunday afternoon at Metro Bank Park. With the loss, the Thunder fall to 78-56 on the year.

RHP Dellin Betances took the mound in his second Double-A start and gave up two runs despite only allowing three hits and striking out seven over 5.2 innings of work. Betances gave up a solo home run to Steve Lombardozzi in the bottom of the third inning to give the Senators a 2-0 lead after three innings.

The Thunder cracked the scoreboard in the fifth inning, as Justin Snyder scored on an RBI single from Austin Krum to make it 2-1. With a runner on base and two outs in the seventh inning, Justin Christian hit a two-run homer off LHP Chuck James to give the Thunder a 3-2 lead. Trenton added two more runs in the top of the eighth off James, highlighted by an RBI triple from Edwar Gonzalez to push the Thunder ahead 5-2.

In the bottom half of the eighth, LHP Wilkin de la Rosa walked the first two batters he faced before surrendering a game-tying three-run homer to Marvin Lowrance over the rightfield wall. After the Thunder came up empty in the ninth and tenth innings, Josh Johnson hit a single and stole second base to start the bottom of the tenth. After Josh Schmidt (3-3) intentionally walked Chris Marrero, Valdez punched a single up the middle to score Johnson for the win.

In the loss, Edwar Gonzalez picked up three hits for the Thunder. Justin Christian extended his season high hitting streak to 12 straight games.

The Thunder return home for their final homestand of the regular season and open up a four game set with the Akron Aeros on Monday at 7:05 PM. RHP Adam Warren takes the mound for the Trenton, while Akron counters with LHP Eric Berger. Catch all the action on 107.7 FM The Bronc or online at http://www.trentonthunder.com

BERKMANIA!

August 29, 2010

According to various reports out of New York, Lance Berkman will begin a rehab assignment with the Trenton Thunder tomorrow.

Berkman, acquired from the Houston Astros at the trade deadline, recently injured his ankle and was placed on the disabled list on August 19.  Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn’t anticipate Berkman needing many at-bats.

 “I don’t anticipate he’ll need a ton, but you just have to see how it goes,” Girardi said.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

McCutchen Adapting To The Big Leagues

August 29, 2010

(Photo by Mike Ashmore/2010)

PITTSBURGH — Getting an opportunity and taking advantage of it are two different things.  Just ask Daniel McCutchen.

Traded to the Pirates organization by the Yankees midway through the 2008 season, the big righty made his big league debut on the last day of August the following year on the heels of a Triple-A campaign that saw him post an International League-leading 13 wins and 3.47 ERA that was good for seventh-best.

Since that day, however, it had been tough sledding for the now 27-year-old.  McCutchen opened this season in the Pirates starting rotation, but was sent to the bullpen after his first three starts (0-2, 14.73 ERA) and demoted to Triple-A after just one relief appearance.

With Indianapolis, the former Trenton Thunder star made 10 starts — including six quality starts — before being summoned back to PNC Park in the last week of June.  He filled in for the injured Zach Duke, but was sent back down after two starts. 

Three more starts in Indianapolis, and McCutchen was back in the big leagues for good, but in a different role.  For the first time in his career, McCutchen became a reliever.

In nine appearances out of the bullpen for the Pirates this season, the personable Texan has posted a miniscule 1.74 ERA.  Compared to a 6.92 mark in eight starts — including his impressive six-inning outing of scoreless baseball against St. Louis on Wednesday — and it seems the man who was known as “Danimal” in the home clubhouse at Waterfront Park has finally taken advantage of his opportunity.

“I’d had a little stint where I wasn’t throwing strikes, and for the most part of my career, I’ve been a strike thrower,” McCutchen said.  “I’ve got a lot more comfortable coming out of the bullpen.” 

Pirates manager John Russell said that he felt McCutchen’s time in the bullpen has helped with his control.

“I think it did lead to him feeling like he can be aggressive against hitters,” Russell said.

“He can pitch in the strike zone and not nibble and not get deep counts.”

As for how he approaches his time in the bullpen to his starts, well…

“It’s the same thing,” McCutchen said.

“I tried not to do anything different (Wednesday).  I know I have a routine as a starter, but I tried to shorten it up because I’ve been used to getting hot quick.  My pre-game bullpen wasn’t very good, but I was able to make an adjustment through a few jitters in the first inning, but other than that, I felt like I really settled down and located all my pitches.”

As for that Wednesday start, with all eyes on Albert Pujols possibly hitting career home run number 400, it was McCutchen who stood out, keeping Pujols off the good side of the box score and even striking out the three-time MVP.  Swinging.

“I threw him all of my pitches,” said McCutchen of his success against Pujols.

“I located a couple of good fastballs on him.  His first at-bat, I missed with a fastball, but it was a good place to miss; I missed up, way up.  I got him to fly out.  The next at-bat, I was able to locate a couple fastballs good and threw probably my best slider of the night and the next at-bat, I threw him fastball, changeup, slider.  That’s a hitter that you know can do some damage.  But with the lead that the offense gave me and the way the defense was playing, I just tried to stay aggressive and knew that one run wasn’t going to hurt us.”

Somewhat ironically, at least for Thunder fans anyway, McCutchen got one more start because ex-Trenton star Jeff Karstens was scratched with arm fatigue.  Karstens told reporters before Wednesday’s game that the decision to not start was the organization’s, a decision he was OK with.  He said he was dealing with a lingering arm issue, but was feeling fine and should be able to make his next start, despite a “cranky” arm.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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