ELDS Game 2: Post-Game Notes

– 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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10 Responses to “ELDS Game 2: Post-Game Notes”

  1. nyyfaninlaaland Says:

    Hey Mike – you do a great job here. I haven’t commented in a while, but wanted to wish you well. been reading regulerly, just haven’t jumped in with comments.

    Also – and Josh may have mentioned this re his talk with Garrison, but he’s from Trenton. How cool for him to come home, join the playoffs, and get back up to AA in 1 fell swoop!

    Too bad about Cox – for Cox. Seemed like maybe it was starting to come back together for him, but I guess he’s wrapped a bit too tight. It’s clear reading between the lines – or simply reading them – he wasn’t a favorite of yours, and sounds a bit self-involved. But he’s had some frustrations too. Oh well.

  2. thunderbaseball Says:

    Thanks…

    Garrison is a local kid…that’s more of angle for Josh and John Nalbone than it is for me since I primarily do not write for a local paper, but yes…it is a cool story for sure.

    As for Cox…I personally never had a problem with him. But to essentially bail on your team during the playoffs — he HAD to know he’d get suspended — is a BS move. This guy got some chances he didn’t deserve and does that? Wild.

    And I’d been sitting on that tidbit about the “F—” and “You” written on his shoes for weeks…if I didn’t like him, you’d have seen that the second I heard about it.

  3. Anthony C Says:

    Sounds like sour grapes to me. Blue Jays orginization is just probably sick of finishing behind the Yankees at every level.

  4. Stan S Says:

    Mike,

    Great coverage of the Division Playoffs. Wish I could bring a laptop on the drive up to the game. Thanks for keeping us informed about the Thunder. My complaint about last night’s game: no program or scorecard. Arrived with my wife a good half hour before the game and what is in the box at the top of the stairs? Nothing! Went over to the help booth on the left and inquired. Nothing! So you have big Andy coming in, you know the crowds will be large and you decide not to print up some extras? But most say this is my first disappoint this year for the Thunder staff. Lets go Thunder! See you at the Championship games next week. Keep it real. -Stan

  5. richard Says:

    Gates opened at 5:05 about and hour and a half before you got there.Like you said Andy coming in and the crowd would be large,there”s your answer.Should have come earlier,snooze you lose.Go Thunder.

  6. Kevin Towers a front-runner in Arizona | The Lohud Yankees Blog Says:

    [...] I’ll wrap up this post with a quote from Austin Romine, who told Mike Ashmore: “I kind of knew what to expect (catching Pettitte), and then I was just blown away. It was just [...]

  7. Joekuh Says:

    Long time reader, 1st time poster. Sad to see Cox do that, I remember his hype coming out of Texas. Hope he shapes up. Great write up on the game. Go Thunder!!!

  8. Art Vandelay Says:

    Wah-Wah-Wah…oh the nerve of the Yankees sending Andy Pettitte in to
    rehab with the Thunder…didn’t Travis Snyder continue to play for New Hampshire long after he was ready to go back to Toronto? You are so right about keeping guys at Double-A who should have been at Triple A long ago…the excuse has been they din’t want to send them to Las Vegas.

  9. BTL Says:

    NH came in a little over confident. Obviously they had smoked the Thunder in the regular season. Everyone knew they had a high octane offense while Trenton’s lineup was significantly depleted due to injuries and promotions. Their staff was beefed up with Richmond and as Mike Ashmore correctly alludes, the Yankees have been about development, getting people to AAA and the big leagues while the Blue Jays have left this NH club fully stocked. BTW, the player’s comment about bringing Pettitte down to win an EL title is asinine but Signore’s comment wasn’t out of line at all. Stewart is obviously a top flight young pitcher and there’s never a guarantee with a veteran big league guy’s first rehab start. Fortunately Andy’s mechanics/health came together in a good way, but perhaps most important was that you had a very unique situation with a veteran guy in this setting. By that I mean here is THE winningest post season pitcher in baseball history but also a man of uniquely exceptional character. Unlike most, Andy would not be content with just getting his work in with an eye toward NY and helping the Yankees in October. It meant a great deal to him last night to help not the NYY, but a scrappy collection of young men called the Trenton Thunder.

    On the field, Pettitte carved his name alongside the greatest in Yankee history some time ago. Those who dealt with him in Trenton last night got a chance to experience complete character and class in the form of a big league legend.

    By the way….NH brought with them a life size cutout of an attractive female with the “sections” of clothing to be removed for each win ala’ the Major League movie. Seems that after going down 0-2 in the series and consequently keeping the lady fully clothed, the heart to take the cut out back home with them. Someone brought it over to the home clubhouse last night. We had a good laugh about it but I suspect the cardboard lady is now on her way to a landfill somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.

  10. Mark Says:

    Lets get to the point of the turning point to the game, top of the 12th Mastroianni was CLEARLY safe! I attended the game and Pettite’s mechanics are a pleasure to witness. Both teams’ pitching speak for itself especially Stewart’s dominate 10 K perfomance. Hitting was lackluster on both ends. Everybody is human and missed calls will occur, but the end of the game reinforced my outlook on the blind call. An umpire that makes a wrong call in a professional playoff game should not gesture towards the players at the end of the game ,but should do his job.

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