Archive for September 8th, 2010

Warren “Makes Adjustment” To Bullpen Role

September 8, 2010

You would think the staff ace would get a start during the postseason.  But when Andy Pettitte needs a place to get some innings in, plans can change quickly.

But Adam Warren took his one-game shift to the bullpen in stride, telling reporters before Game 1 that he’d simply have to make an adjustment to his temporary new role.

"It’s just one of those things that happens," he said.

"We heard a rumor that Pettitte could come and make a start, and we knew one of us was probably going to get bumped.  It was my turn, so that’s just the way it works out.  I’ve just got to stay mentally ready in the fourth or fifth inning, and I’ll be ready to go."

The numbers certainly warrant a start.  Between High-A Tampa and Trenton this season, the affable 23-year-old righty is 11-7 with a 2.59 ERA in 25 starts.  With the Thunder alone, he’s posted a 4-2 mark and 3.15 ERA in ten starts, and set the franchise’s new single-game record with 15 strikeouts.

"Obviously, I’d like to start, but when a guy like Andy Pettitte comes, you can’t really be mad," he said.

"For me, I just have to be ready to pitch and finish the game out.  It’s going to be a new process for me.  I’m going to try to keep everything the same though.  I’ll have to make a few adjustments, but I don’t think it’s going to affect me negatively."

According to Thunder manager Tony Franklin, Warren handled the news of being bumped for Pettitte well.

"I think Adam understands the situation," he said.

"If anyone else was in the same situation, I think they understand that the priority is to get the Major League pitchers back to pitching.  We happen to be home, so he’s got a place to pitch.  That’s the way it is."

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

ELDS Game 1: Post-Game Notes (Updated)

September 8, 2010

– Made it home, posted some player and manager quotes (with proper attribution if I wasn’t there for it)…but here are some quick notes as well…

– Stay tuned for stories on Adam Warren, Taylor Grote and Rob Segedin, as well as some interesting pre-game comments from Tony Franklin…

– The hype will be around tomorrow, but you likely got the better game today.  That was baseball at its best.  Drabek and Betances were locked in an absolute duel, and neither side was giving an inch.  Betances and Drabek were both absolutely dazzling at times.  But it was Betances who got the better of Drabek and the Fisher Cats, keeping the hitters off-balance with an-at times stellar array of offspeed stuff.

The only worry on Betances on the night, who ESPN’s Keith Law had at 95 MPH on the gun — which oddly coincided with his pitch count getting kicked up to 95 — was that he wasn’t as efficient as he could/should be with his pitches, especially early.

As for Drabek, he was outstanding as well…but a little small ball from the Thunder in the fourth inning got them the only run they’d ultimately need.

– Rene Rivera absolutely crushed that Trystan Magnuson offering in the 7th…Rivera said after the game that it was a fastball that he took out of the yard.  Rivera is a guy who can change the game with one swing of the bat, and he gave the Thunder a much, much needed insurance run…

– There appeared to be some form a confrontation between reliever J.B. Cox and Franklin in the dugout after Cox was removed from the game by Franklin in the eighth inning.  Several witnesses saw Cox and Franklin chest to chest. 

Cox allowed two baserunners and got two outs in the eighth before being pulled in favor of Pat Venditte.

– Let me say this…if New Hampshire loses this series, their built-in “well, you guys had Andy Pettitte” excuse went out the window when Betances outpitched Drabek.  They had every opportunity to take a one game lead tonight with the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year out there, and failed.  Blame that.

– Here are some quotes from Dellin Betances…

“I know Drabek was pitching well all year, he won Eastern League Pitcher of the Year, so I knew it was going to be a tough one.  I had to just keep trying to put up zeroes and give my team a chance to go deep in the ballgame and win.”

“I just tried to make quality pitches.  I got myself in some messes, but whatever Romine was calling, I was going with.  It was good to have him behind (the plate).”

“Those situations, I’m just trying to make big pitch after big pitch.  Just try to get a big strikeout.  Snyder made a good play on one of those.  It was good to have good defense.”

“To know that you’re pitching in front of your hometown, it’s always nice being here and having family here.  The fans were in the game the whole time.  It was good to keep pitching well.”

“The bullpen’s been doing a good job, so I had confidence in them.  Next time, I’ll want to go longer, but this team is a good hitting team and they kept fouling pitches off.  It was a battle tonight.”

“They extended my pitch count today, so I didn’t feel tired at all.  There were some pitches where I was pulling off, but I didn’t feel tired.  Just adrenaline kept me going.  I definitely felt I could have kept going, but it was the right move.  My pitch count was up and there were two lefties coming up.”

– Here’s what Justin Snyder had to say…

“I was just trying to field my position like I should.  Some of those plays were a little tougher than I would like, they’re not routine ground balls or anything.  It’s just getting out of jams and picking up Dellin.  He got himself in and out of situations tonight.  Coming in and beating them first game is pretty clutch.”

“Just going throughout the year and trying to prove to Tony that I can do that…it’s just a sign that he believes in me and believes in my abilities to put me in the 2 hole now that Corban’s out of there.  I just tried to come and try not to disappoint him, try not to make him look bad.”

“The way they’ve been playing us, (I didn’t expect 2 runs would be enough).  One through nine all can swing it, especially if you get Mastroianni on base, it’s like an automatic double.  We definitely didn’t think two was going to be enough.  They showed there at the end that they’re here to play and perservere through tough times.  But two runs did it.  Sweet.”

“(Thames has) owned us from day one.  But talking to Romine, he said pitch him a little bit differently.  The last few games, we figured some stuff out against him, and we put it into motion tonight.”

“(This was) huge, especially with Drabek going on the mound.  He knew he was going to come out and pitch like he had all year.  The pitchers in the stands who were charting said he was no lower than 95 for the first three innings.  Coming away with two runs against him is pretty clutch.  Having Dellin down there shutting people down…everything came together tonight.”

“I know Dellin has that in him…just his last few starts up here, he’s been lights out.  Just mixing pitches, 3-2 changeups, 3-2 curveballs for strikes, and just keeping hitters off-balance.”

– Here are some Tony Franklin quotes…

“This is a big win for us, no question about it. To get the first game here at home against Drabek, in the manner in which we got it, was outstanding. That’s what playoff baseball is all about. That’s why you throw out the won/loss record during the regular.:

Dellin stranded five runners in scoring position with less than two outs.

“He’s got an extra gear. His changeup worked well. If you have velocity, you have to have something to keep them off of your fastball. They didn’t get many good swings on his change up. Every time he called a breaking ball in a fastball count, we got an out or a strike.”

What did Betances top at?

“I haven’t looked at the readings yet. Phelps said 95 is hard to hit elevated. He threw some balls past some pretty good hitters, especially against the lefties. Especially against Thames.”

Snyder’s game?

“[Moving the runner] That type of thing does get overlooked. There were times this year when we didn’t move runners and it cost us. That’s a big play in any game and moving a runner [to second base] with no outs. The plays at third were very very good. How fitting was it to end the ball game on that particular play.”

– Here are some Kyle Drabek quotes, courtesy of Kevin Gray of the Union Leader…

“We’re still confident. We weren’t able to score runs tonight but that doesn’t happen much against this team.”

“We’ve been in a little slump lately, but the playoffs are a great place to turn that around. Our team is still confident. We feel like we’re the best team in this league.”

“It was a little hard for me to find the strike zone. I don’t know why. … I don’t know how many first-pitch strikes I threw (8 of 22), but not many.”

“A leadoff walk is never good. They put a few hits together and were able to get him in.”

“It’s a big loss. You don’t want to lose the first game in a playoff series. You have your down time after a loss, but there’s always tomorrow.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Thunder Win, 2-0

September 8, 2010

Sorry for the lack of updates there at the end, but Trenton won, 2-0…we spoke to Tony Franklin, Dellin Betances and Justin Snyder after the game.  Kyle Drabek left before the media was able to speak with him…but stay tuned for comprehensive coverage of Trenton’s unlikely Game 1 win.

And yes, I’m already hearing about that “they aren’t beating Drabek” statement.  Doubting any of you are upset I was proven wrong.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

ELDS Game 1: In-Game Updates

September 8, 2010

Top 1 — Nice job by Dellin Betances right there…two strikeouts, and he got a boost from a nice diving grab by Justin Snyder at third base.  0-0, going into B1.  22 pitches/13 strikes for Betances.

Bottom 1 — 1-2-3 inning for Kyle Drabek, including one strikeout…0-0 heading into T2.  16 pitches/8 strikes for Drabek.

Top 2 — Two more strikeouts for Betances…he gave up a leadoff hit for David Cooper.  Cooper moved to second on an errant pickoff play and third on a passed ball by Austin Romine, but that’s as far as he got.  45 pitches/26 strikes for Betances through 2.

Bottom 2 — 28 pitches/17 strikes for Drabek through two…another 1-2-3 inning as well.  He’s got two strikeouts so far, and we’ve got a 0-0 game heading into T3.

Top 3 — Betances gets out of a jam…he had runners on the corners with one out, but got Shawn Bowman to strike out swinging.  We remain scoreless heading into B3.  57 pitches/36 strikes through three.

Bottom 3 — 1-2-3 again for Kyle Drabek.  Wow.  It’s one thing to be hyped, but it’s another to live up to it and exceed it…43 pitches/26 strikes through 3.  0-0 game.

Top 4 — Betances is through four…he has 7 K’s.  71 pitches/46 strikes.  0-0 going into B4.

Bottom 4 — Austin Krum worked a leadoff walk to break up Drabek’s perfect game bid…and Justin Snyder moved him over to second on a groundout.  Krum then stole third on a 1-0 pitch with Dan Brewer up…Brewer then took the next pitch to short left center and plated Krum to give Trenton a 1-0 lead.  But Brewer strayed way too far off the bag and got picked off by catcher Matt Liuzza.  Austin Romine then laced a single down the right field line that probably would have put Brewer at third.  Marcos Vechionacci then grounded to third to end the inning.  Drabek: 61 pitches/32 strikes.  1-0, Thunder, going into T5.

Top 5 — Betances gets out of another huge jam…88 pitches/56 strikes through five.  1-0, Thunder, going into B5.

Bottom 5 — 1-2-3 inning for Drabek, including another strikeout.  75 pitches/41 strikes through five for Drabek.  1-0, Thunder, going into T6.

Top 6 — Dellin Betances is out after 5 1/3 IP…92 pitches, 58 strikes.  His line: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K.  Wilkins Arias came in to finish off the frame, and Trenton leads, 1-0, going into B6.

Bottom 6 — Austin Krum gets on base after Adeiny Hechevarria bobbled his routine ground ball…but got caught stealing second.  Justin Snyder, of course, doubled down the right field line.  Dan Brewer walked.  But Drabek got Romine to strike out swinging to end the threat.  1-0, Thunder, going into T7.  Drabek: 101 pitches/56 strikes.

Top 7 — Two strikeouts and a groundout for Josh Schmidt make for an efficient and effective 7th…1-0, Thunder
 
Bottom 7 — Drabek out after six…Trystan Magnuson in…and Rene Rivera absolutely destroyed a no-doubter to left field with one out to make it 2-0.

Top 8 — J.B. Cox came in and gave up a leadoff single to Adeiny Hechevarria…but he retired the next two batters.  However, a two-out walk to David Cooper ends Coxie’s night…Pat Venditte into the game…and he strikes out Adam Calderone to end the inning.  2-0, Thunder lead.

Bottom 8 –

Top 9 –

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

ELDS Game 1: Pre-Game Notes

September 8, 2010

7:05 PM — Pre-game photos…

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Dellin Betances

Kyle Drabek

Lineup card…

Panoramic pre-game fun

Austin Romine greets his teammates during player intros…

6:30 PM — Here’s a Franklin quote on his club’s 7-16 record against New Hampshire.

“It’s a whole new ballgame now,” he said.

“It’s a short series, but we’re well aware of how they played us.  I look at it like this…we’re well aware of how they played us.  We had opportunities where we were in games.  We’ve made some errors and made some bad pitched and it cost us some games.  We played well up until those points.  If we had done a little bit better job, we would have won some of those games.  It’s not like we got blown out.  For the most part, I thought we were pretty competitive…I feel like we have a chance to win.  I always feel like we have a chance to win.  Those games that we lost to them in the regular season, no big deal.  It’s now or never for us.” 

6:15 PM — Just to clarify…Warren said he had no problem with Pettitte starting and Grote and Segedin were both happy to be here…not surprising stuff, kids.

5:50 PM — Not a whole lot that was newsworthy down there…

The current estimate on Andy Pettitte’s outing tomorrow is 4 innings/60 pitches.  Spoke with Tony Franklin, Adam Warren, Taylor Grote and Rob Segedin.  I’ll have all that stuff after the game, there wasn’t anything particularly noteworthy that came out of it…promise.

4:45 PM — Kei Igawa…IN…DA…HOUSE

4:35 PM — Your first photos of Rob Segedin (top) and Taylor Grote…Grote is wearing #23…

4:25 PM — Just saw Kei Igawa down on the field…have heard that he’s only here to work for a couple days and will still start for Scranton.  Igawa is wearing #47…

3:50 PM — Rob Segedin will wear #17…no number on Taylor Grote yet.

2:50 PM — There has been an adjustment made to the postseason probable starting pitchers…but on the New Hampshire side.

Scott Richmond (left) — he of the 8-11 Major League record last year — has been added to the Fisher Cats and will pitch Game 3.  That moves Randy Boone to Game 4 and B.J. LaMura to Game 5.

Lineups are also in…

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Darin Mastroianni, CF
Adeiny Hechavarria, SS
Eric Thames, DH
Shawn Bowman, 3B
David Cooper, 1B
Adam Calderone, LF
Adam Loewen, RF
Matt Liuzza, C
Jonathan Diaz, 2B

Kyle Drabek, P

TRENTON

Austin Krum, CF
Justin Snyder, 3B
Daniel Brewer, RF
Austin Romine, C
Marcos Vechionacci, 1B
Rene Rivera, DH
Damon Sublett, LF
Luis Nunez, SS
Matt Cusick, 2B

Dellin Betances, P

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Covering The Series From All Angles

September 8, 2010

Colleagues John Nalbone and Josh Norris have got the series covered for you as well…

Nalbone: Kyle Drabek to Thunder: Who’s your Daddy?

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Norris: Pettitte’s Rehab Start Completely Fair

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Norris: Eastern League Division Series Preview

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Norris: New Hampshire’s Thames Could Be Series Changer

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Norris: Joseph Out For ELDS, Segedin Promoted

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Josh and I tend to disagree on things sometimes — which paints the perception we don’t get along, that’s very, very far from the truth…he and I have actually become good friends over the past two years — so of course, we disagree on a few playoff-related things.

For starters, I think the concept of a Major Leaguer coming down for a minor league rehab assignment is a farce.  I would argue there’s little that he can get out of this that he couldn’t get out of a simulated game or something similar, and that yes…the minors are all about developing players for the big leagues, and the big league team is always the organization’s priority and so on…but, it is in theory an unfair competitive advantage and does take away an opportunity from a kid they’re trying to develop.  The fact that Adam Warren may not get a postseason start is 20,000 kinds of ridiculous…staying on regular rest is good…but there’s a lot of discomfort around the fact that the fate of the Thunder’s season may lie in Cory Arbiso’s right hand, which could have been avoided.  Arbiso is certainly capable, but combine his last start at Waterfront Park with his uncertain role for the season, and it’s got some people concerned, let’s be honest.

I admit, however, that the argument against playoff rehabs is much stronger when a position player is involved.  Hideki Matsui’s rehab in 2006 was a joke.  Brett Gardner sat in Game 2 so he could play.  Bet that was good for his development. 

Now, the counterpoint there is that Trenton lost both series in which they had rehabbers — Matsui in ’06 and Tom Gordon for a brief start in ’99 — but it still provides an unfair advantage.  As for the money aspect, I could care less if the Thunder get to pad their pockets…when I see a dime of that, maybe I will.  I am, however, happy to see that there will be a packed house for a playoff game…postseason games in Trenton have generally drawn little more than flies. 

However, all in all…there’s a time and a place for everything…and if you ask me, the playoffs are neither for Pettitte to pitch.

Grumpy old man soapbox moment aside, we also of course disagree on who actually wins the series.  We agree on the games — 4 — but not the winner.  I will say that if Trenton can somehow beat Kyle Drabek…just the mental boost that could provide would be huge.  But we’ll see.  That’s the fun part about this…opinions are like a…hmmm…what’s a better analogy there?  Well…everyone has an opinion, how about that?  All the question marks around this series will make it very interesting to see how it all plays out.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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