Archive for September 10th, 2010

Thunder Win Game 3; Sweep New Hampshire

September 10, 2010

(PR) Manchester, NH- In 23 regular season games against New Hampshire, Trenton won just six. In the first round of the Eastern League Playoffs, the Thunder held New Hampshire to just one run as they finished off the sweep with an 8-1 Game Three victory on Friday night in New Hampshire.

LHP Manuel Banuelos turned in seven-shutout innings in what was just his fourth Double-A start for the Thunder. Banuelos (1-0) allowed just five hits and struck out five batters. The left-hander was also supported by four double plays from the Trenton defense and two runners caught stealing by C Austin Romine.

The first run of the game came in the third inning, as Damon Sublett belted a solo home run off New Hampshire RHP Scott Richmond (0-1) to give the Thunder an early 1-0 lead. The score would remain the same until the seventh inning when Marcos Vechionacci reached base after a third strike got away from New Hampshire C Jonathan Jaspe. The next batter, Rene Rivera, clubbed a two-run homer to right field to extend Trenton’s lead to 3-0. It was Rivera’s third home run of the series.

After Richmond left the game, RHP Alan Farina came on to pitch the eighth inning and served up four runs to Trenton on three hits, highlighted by RBI base hits from Rivera and Luis Nunez, putting the Thunder ahead 7-0 after eight innings. A Vechionacci RBI double in the top of the ninth inning padded the lead to 8-0.

Pat Venditte and Adam Olbrychowski combined to pitch a scoreless eighth inning, and Olbrychowski came out to pitch the bottom of the ninth. The Pepperdine product gave up an RBI double to David Cooper to put New Hampshire on the board for the first time all series before striking out Jonathan Jaspe to end the game.

The Thunder will kick off the Eastern League Championship series on the road Tuesday night and will face the winner of the Altoona/Harrisburg series. The first championship game at Waterfront Park will be on Thursday at 7:05 PM. For tickets, call (609) 394-3300 or online at http://www.trentonthunder.com

Andy Pettitte Press Conference Quotes

September 10, 2010

Here it is, kids…the entire list of Andy Pettitte quotes from his in-game press conference.  Go nuts.

—-

“I felt good.  It felt good to get back on the mound, you know.  It was a step in the right direction, I didn’t have any problems.  I threw 51 pitches in the four innings, then went down and threw 14 more in the bullpen to get to the 65 that we wanted to get to.  So, it was a good step in the right direction to be able to do it in a game and have a little bit of intensity.  I felt like I was striding out pretty good.  I think I was getting out there normal.  The first inning, I was a little short, and then I loosened up I think and started feeling comfortable with getting out there.  All in all, it was good.”

“It was great (working with Romine).  My spring training, I think I had just a couple starts because of the weather.  Everyone bailed on me when we had another rainout, I think it was my last game in spring training.  Austin caught like 85 pitches of mine in the bullpen.  We did a simulated game in the tunnel, so he had a pretty good idea of what I like to do and how I like to pitch and some of my sequences, I think.  But he’s great.  He was in spring training with me, so he caught me there, so it worked out good.”

“I know “Stick” was here, Gene Michael, and I’ll probably try to get his opinion on what he thought.  I felt OK, I feel like.  I feel like my stuff will be better each time I get out.  I haven’t had any work in two months.  But all in all, I felt pretty good with my mechanics and my command, and that’s just something where I’m going to have to get back up there.  I’m going to meet the team in Arlington and sit down with Dave Eiland and Joe and our trainers and try to figure out if we’re going to do one more of these or if we’re going to go ahead and go.  It’s something where I’m going to have to be realistic with them and truthful with them and let them know how I was feeling.  We’ll sit down and talk about it.”

“To tell you the truth, usually it would be a little bit different in a rehab start where I would just kind of…I talked to Austin before the game, wanting to know how to pitch some of these guys because I knew it was a playoff game for these guys.  I didn’t want to blow it and make a mistake to somebody who might be strong inside or something like that.  I kind of took it serious, you know.  I didn’t know how sharp I was going to be, but I was pretty happy with being able to throw my curveball for strikes and being able to throw my offspeed stuff for strikes when I wanted to and be able to locate some fastballs down and away when I was behind in the count; all the stuff I’ll have to do to big league hitters to get them guys out.  I wasn’t real happy with my changeup; I threw a couple bad ones, I tugged ‘em and had a wild pitch on one, I think.  The changeup is always a tough one for me.  That’s just me needing some repetition.  But I threw a good one on 3-1 in a count that I like to use it, on that last batter that I think I faced.  All in all, like I said, it was  a good night.”

“I felt good.  All day, I was just like, ‘Man, if they try to bunt on me, should I run over there’ or whatever covering first.  It was like don’t go hard, it’s your first time, take it easy.  I think their leadoff hitter hit one over there to first, and I hesitated a little bit and slowly went over there, but I don’t think it was going to matter.  I hardly even got towards the bag and he was already stepping on it.  I felt like I was five yards away from the bag, so I don’t think I would have got him anyway.  But, I had no problem at all.  It was good.”

“Well, I was sore after my last time in the simulated game, so I know I’m going to be sore.  I’m anxious to see what kind of soreness I’ll have, if it’ll hinder me from wanting to do my bullpen like I normally would a day from tomorrow.  I don’t think so.  Trainers have considered me a healthy player now, and this is soreness I’m going to have to get through.  I’ll probably just try to go through it, whatever soreness I’ve got.”

“(On the second wild pitch) I just tugged a sinker.  There was a two seamer that I tugged also, that kind of cut on me instead of running away from a righty.”

“I felt good (in the fourth), I wanted to try to push a little bit harder in that last inning because I was feeling pretty strong.  Other than the last batter — I tugged a couple of changeups, so I was a little frustrated with that — but I came back, like I said, and threw a good one 3-1 and was able to make a good pitch there, that last pitch to him.  It was good, I was real happy with being able to keep the ball down when I wanted to.  I was able to elevate a couple times when I wanted to.  So all in all, it was pretty good.”

“A lot of these guys I’ve seen in spring training, but as far as (giving them advice), I was just signing autographs for them and then it was time to get ready for the game by the time I got here.  Most of the guys, though, I recognized from spring training.  I’d seen a lot of them.”

“I’m not exactly sure (on how many big league starts he’d need).  We looked at the calendar, and if I make my next start, it’s only going to be four.  It’s not that perfect of a world right now.  So as soon as I can get back there and face big league hitters and get going, that would be ideal for me.  Whatever it is, whatever they decide to do with me, however they want me to approach this, it’s going to be good enough.  We’ll go and hopefully shoot into the playoffs and figure out what we’ve got and go from there.”

“I think that when we talked about it, they’d like for me to do another start, but we don’t know what the schedule’s going to be.  There may not be a game on the night that I need to pitch.  I think we’ve got a pretty good idea of when they would definitely want me to start a game, and if that’s the case, then I’m going to need to pitch on Tuesday night.  We’ll just have to kind of see what they say.”

“They pushed me back.  I was supposed to pitch last night and they pushed me back.  And I was just like whatever.  Whatever y’all want me to do, I’ll do.  I want to get back and I want to pitch in the big leagues as soon as I can.  I want to try to help our club.  I am realistic, I realize that my stamina is nowhere near where it needs to be and I’ve got to get all that underneath me.  But I feel like I could give us a pretty decent maybe 4 or 5 innings if I had to make a big league start my next time.”

“I did a good job of blocking (age difference) out and just looking at the mitt.  That’s it.  Not worrying about who was in there.  I was just trying to use some of the sequences I like to use up there against big league hitters and stuff like that.  Other than that, I was just trying to get my mind going again.  It’s almost been two months.  I’m just trying to get my mind working again where I can see my pitches again and feel what feels good out there; my release points and just try to feel everything.”

“(My confidence is) great, because I feel like I just got through what was a pretty hard four innings.  The last inning, I felt like I was pushing off a little bit harder and trying to go a little bit harder.  That’s definitely a positive.  Then I felt like I went down there and threw 14 more in the bullpen pretty hard also.  It was good.”

“I’m not hardly doing anything at all.  They’ve got me doing some light jogging.  Since I had that setback, when I got back in my routine as far as doing my leg work and running and stuff like that, I felt like I pushed it too hard and I didn’t let this thing recover.  I’m just doing what Gene-o tells me to do, our trainer…so I’ve just been doing some light jogging each day and then just letting it rest and letting it recover.  And also lifting my upper body and doing my shoulder exercises, I’ve been doing that.  But I have not done anything with my legs, which obviously is going to hurt me right now with my stamina, but I think I’ve got enough time to get going and then start getting in a leg routine once we get going a little more later in the season.”

“There was a little bit more of a thought process.  Usually, it’s just whatever you work on if you want to locate your fastball or whatever.  I talked to Austin before the game, and he said they’d played these guys a ton, so he had a great idea of what these guys like and what they don’t like and what balls they can handle and what balls they can’t handle.  It was a little bit different of a mindset, because I wanted to try to come here…I didn’t want to lose this game for these guys.  I wanted to do exactly what I did and give them a chance to win.  It starts down here.  If you win a championship down here, these guys, I think that’s something you can continue to build off of right there.”

“I felt like a couple of my cutters weren’t real sharp that I left in the zone.  I know I threw one that was kind of flat that the guy hit on the fly ball to left.  But you don’t ever know, they could roll that over and turn that into a double play or something like that.  All in all, I was very satisfied with my command as far as where I was putting the ball.”

“You feel like a zero when you’re not contributing and you’re on the DL.  The guys are great with me.  I’ve been out so long, I’ve almost gotten used to being out, which is really strange.  But again, I had to totally change my mindset whenever I hurt myself, because I was in such a hurry to get back the first time.  I was a week ahead of schedule and this and that, and here we are right at I think seven weeks, and I’ve missed this much time.  I’ve had to take my mind out of it and just relax.  Now, I can start cranking it back up again.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Pettitte Photos: The Best Of The Rest

September 10, 2010

A record setting playoff crowd of 8,072 fans packs Waterfront Park…

Camera crews await Pettitte’s grand entrance…

Pettitte

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

ELDS Game 2: Post-Game Notes

September 10, 2010

– Perhaps Fisher Cats reliever Trystan Magnuson should stop throwing Rene Rivera fastballs.  For the second time in as many nights, Trenton’s backup catcher smashed a home run off of Magnuson on that pitch.  Last night, it gave the Thunder a much-needed insurance run for their 2-0 win.  Tonight, it led to a 12th inning walk-off victory.

“I’m looking for a pitch out over the plate that I can drive,” Rivera said.

“I got lucky both times, yesterday and today.  I saw a pitch I could handle and I swung.  I always wait for the fastball, no matter what the situation is or the count.  No matter what inning I’m always looking for a fastball, because that’s the best pitch to hit.  In that situation, I just wanted to get a base hit and get a rally going.  I wasn’t thinking about a homer.”

– Rivera’s homer, of course, came after an unfortunate turn of events for the Fisher Cats.  Adam Calderon led off the inning with a single off of Wilkins Arias, who was removed from the game in favor of Josh Schmidt.  Schmidt struck out Matt Liuzza, but walked Adam Loewen to put runners on first and second with one out.  Pinch hitter Ricardo Nanita grounded out and moved the runners over and set the stage for Darin Mastroianni.

New Hampshire’s speedy leadoff man hit a weak ground ball to second baseman Matt Cusick, who charged the ball and sidearmed it to first…to the naked eye — and this was the consensus in the press box –Mastroianni was safe.  First base umpire Chris Hamner, however, ruled otherwise.  The run did not score, and the inning was over

Mastroianni jumped up and down and threw his helmet down in disgust.  Fisher Cats manager Luis Rivera sprinted across the field to confront Hamner.  He vehemently argued the call, spiked his coaches helmet as well, and was quickly ejected and needed to be held back for a bit before calmly leaving the field.

Following the game, as Trenton players were at the plate celebrating the win, another New Hampshire coach got in Hamner’s face as the umpires were leaving the field.

Looking at a sequence of photos taken by MILB.com photographer Kevin Littlefield, there is conclusive evidence that Mastroianni was, in fact, safe.

“I was watching Luis run across, and he was flying,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.  “I probably would have done the same thing.” 

“I feel for them, but not that much.”

– Don’t worry Thunder fans, Adam Warren wasn’t offended by the mass exodus that took place at Waterfront Park after Andy Pettitte left. 

“I was kind of like, ‘Where are you going,'” said Warren with a laugh.

“But no, we gave them a good game, the ones that stuck around.  They were loud and we all appreciate that.  It was really fun game and a really fun atmosphere for us.”

Anyone who left early missed a hell of a performance from the 23-year-old staff ace.  He pitched six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and walking two.  He struck out ten.  Coming out of the bullpen appeared to be no big deal for the cool as a cucumber hurler.

“I had to kind of lock in mentally and try to keep everything the same,” he said.

“My body, it was kind of funny in the bullpen, it didn’t feel as loose as usual because I didn’t have a chance to run around as much.  But I started locking in in the bullpen, and once I got in the game and got a little bit of adrenaline running, it was all the same.”

Warren who had hoped to see Andy Pettitte’s start, missed the first inning, but did get to see some of it.

“The second inning, I came out and just soaked it in a little bit and watched him pitch,” he said.

“After that, I went to the bullpen and got to watch a little bit while I was warming up.  It was a lot of fun to watch a veteran throw like that and get outs.”

– Austin Romine only needed one word to describe the outing of Andy Pettitte: Unbelievable.

The Yankees prospect was absolutely glowing after the game when discussing getting to catch Pettitte for four innings.

“That was some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen,” he said.  “Nothing was straight.  He commanded everything.  It was unbelievable, it was an honor to catch him.”

Romine had worked a bit with Pettitte in spring training, but when asked if that helped him tonight…

“Yes and no,” he said.

“I kind of knew what to expect, and then I was just blown away.  It was just really fun.  You could tell from the first pitch of the game…he threw a cutter and I missed it, because I was like whoa…I’ve never seen balls cut like that.”

As for Romine himself, he’s been behind the plate for all 21 innings in which Thunder pitching has shut out the potent Fisher Cats lineup.  I asked Romine how much credit he deserves for that.

“I don’t want any of it,” he said.

“I suggest pitches, I didn’t do anything.  I suggest pitches, they throw it.  They did their job.”

– I asked Franklin after the game if, when he thought about the series was going to go, he expected to be up 2-0 going into New Hampshire.

“Honestly, I thought if we won the first one, we’d have a good chance to be right there,” he said.

“I do believe in my team, I believe in the guys out there.  I know that we pitch pretty good and we’re going to be in some games.  Scoring, that’s another thing.  But pitching, I know that if we pitched well, we were going to have a chance.  Getting the first one, that was big for us.  Getting the second one, that’s pretty good too.”

Romine was asked the same question as well.

“I did.  I know that sounds like, ‘Oh, he’s just saying that,’ but I really did,” he said.

“I really knew we were going to beat Drabek because everybody was sitting here telling us we weren’t.  That’s the type of team we are.  We’re a bunch of underdogs.  There’s nobody on this team hitting .330.  We’ve got a bunch of scrappers in there.”

– LHP Steve Garrison, claimed off of waivers by the Yankees from the Padres, is expected to join Trenton.  The Trentonian’s Josh Norris spoke with Garrison, and he expects to join the club on Sunday. 

– Garrison takes the spot of Wilkin De La Rosa, who was taken off the 40-man roster prior to the game.  De La Rosa was spotted leaving by fans outside the ballpark before the start of batting practice.  Given that he’s lost two members of his bullpen in the past 24 hours, pitching coach Tommy Phelps didn’t seem too thrilled.

“It hurts, obviously,” he said.

“Coxie’s one of our veteran guys who came in late in the game for us, and De La’s been one of our long guys.  But, we’re getting another pitcher and hopefully we can get somebody else to fill in and help us out down there.”

– Ah yes, J.B. Cox.  It seems like just hours ago that his suspension for the remainder of the season was the big story.  Well…probably because it was.  I promise the rest of my writing will be about guys who actually had the professionalism to stick with their team for the rest of the season, but I’m not doing my job if I don’t pass along comments from Franklin that he made before the game.

“He was disappointed that he came out of the game,” Franklin said.

“Some words were exchanged, and I took exception with what he said to me.  I didn’t think it was very professional.  He took exception to what I said.  We felt like the best thing to do was to suspend him.”

Franklin was disappointed that Cox’s tenure with the club ended the way it did.

“I wish him well,” he said.  “If his career has ended with the Yankees, I’d hate for it to end on this note.”

– Was reading Kevin Gray’s Thursday story.  You should too.  Two things stood out to me…

“One Fisher Cat scoffed at the idea of Pettitte throwing for Trenton, saying it’s a “shameless” move to help win the Eastern League title…”

What’s worse?  Having one guy come down for a playoff game — which, oh by the way, New Hampshire is doing tomorrow with Scott Richmond, who had 19 big league decisions last year — or “shamelessly” keeping players who have nothing left to prove at their current level in Double-A so the Blue Jays can attempt to claim a minor league title?  Whatever player said that needs to look around his own clubhouse…

And then there was this…

“I don’t even know if (Pettitte) will be the guy with the best stuff among the two starters,” Fisher Cats pitching coach Tom Signore said.

With all due respect to Signore and Zach Stewart, who was absolutely excellent for New Hampshire, that’s a pretty foolish statement to make.  Stewart will be a very good big leaguer one day…but to favorably compare him to Pettitte just seems silly.

– Real quick…anyone who knows me knows I rarely pass up an opportunity to complain.  Nothing to complain about tonight though.  The Thunder front office did a marvelous job in handling the Pettitte rehab.  It wasn’t — and Rachel Wolf will appreciate this — a farce.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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