Archive for September, 2012

Baseball Game Review

September 30, 2012

Baseball might not quite match the fan or sports betting popularity of football, but it is still one of the biggest sports in the US. This has led online casino pages to add casino games themed around baseball to their selection. The five reel Microgaming video slot Hot Shot seems to have emerged as the favourite amongst baseball and gambling fans. So why exactly has this game in particular hit such a home run with fans of baseball and casino?

The baseball theme is certainly very well developed throughout the game, and will be immediately apparent as soon as you start playing. Instead of the usual fruit symbols on the five reels, you will find the likes of hitters, pitchers, catchers gloves, burning baseballs (the wild symbol) and gold cup trophies (the scatter). Meanwhile the background is a typical baseball field, and on the edges there are baseballs and bats stitched by hand. These classy visuals are matched by well-chosen sound effects, including a bat hitting ball (when you score a win) and murmuring crowds (rising to a roar of appreciation when you get a win featuring the scatter symbols), and this really adds to the atmosphere and drama of the game play.

From a casino point of view, Hot Shot is also a winner, as it provides the player with ample chance of a payout. For example the wild symbol can take the place of any symbol, except the scatter, to make a winning combination – while getting three or more of the scatters on any of the nine pay lines will produce an automatic payout. On the downside, Hot Shot does not offer any game bonuses, but it does have an impressive $2000 cash jackpot (as well as a 1000 coin one), and can be played with bets of just $0.25 a time. Therefore there are still plenty of reasons for anyone who loves baseball to spend a bit of time playing Hot Shot. You can play roulette from the comfort of your home at GamingClub.com/au/ together with all these sports related slots games and even find poker and blackjack tables too.

Mesa Makes Big League Debut

September 23, 2012

 

Melky Mesa, pictured at the 2012 Eastern League All-Star Game, made his big league debut for the Yankees on Saturday (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Melky Mesa, who manned the Waterfront Park outfield for a season and a half, made his Major League debut for the New York Yankees on Saturday.

The 25-year-old made great strides in his second season in Trenton, batting .277 with 14 home runs and 46 RBI while cutting down his strikeout totals significantly from the previous year.  Mesa earned a late-season promotion to Triple-A Scranton, and while his batting average dipped to .230, he still hit nine home runs in just 33 games.  That doesn’t include a walk-off postseason home run to keep Scranton alive in the playoffs against Pawtucket, a series they ultimate lost.

Mesa entered Saturday’s Yankees game against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the 14th inning as a pinch-runner for Eric Chavez, and could have scored on Alex Rodriguez single to shallow center field, but he missed third base and had to retreat.  Mesa was thrown out at home plate one batter later on a Robinson Cano fielders choice groundout to the pitcher. 

 

New National Hockey Blog

September 19, 2012

It’s been nice to have a few days away from baseball to unwind and focus on hockey season.  Contrary to popular belief, there will actually be hockey this season…just possibly not the NHL, at least for a while, anyway.

But I’ll be busy for The Trentonian this year anyway, covering both the Trenton Titans and the national hockey scene.

While my Inside The Trenton Titans blog has been active for a little while now after a one season hiatus, I wanted to let you all know about 5 For Writing, which is where my national coverage will be.  I’ve already got original stories and interviews you won’t see anywhere else and am posting daily updates on stories and moves you might have missed.

As for this beat…I’ll post a formal thank you as I do at the end of every season on here in a couple days.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Franklin Likely To Return For 2013 Season

September 16, 2012

For weeks, Tony Franklin has deflected questions about his status for the 2013 season.  But in the minutes after his Thunder ballclub lost in their fourth championship appearance during his six-year tenure, the 62-year-old seemed to indicate that he’d be returning to the capital city next season.

“Let’s face it, this is what I do. I like doing it, I have not grown tired of doing this at all,” he said.

“I love working with young men and helping to develop talent. That is so much fun for me to do that. What’s going to happen next year? I’m not sure. Right now, I’m going to go home and see my wife, because I’ve missed her for a long, long time. But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m back here next year, if they’ll have me.”

Franklin has led Trenton to two Eastern League championships, and has a 20-10 overall playoff record, including a 6-2 mark in playoff series.  He recently won his first league Manager of the Year award and won his 1,000th career game this year as well.  From the Yankees end, bringing him back would seem to be a no-brainer.

“I’m going to ask (Mark Newman) if he’s got something in store for me, and if he asks me if I’d like to come back or if he tells me he’d like for me to come back, I pretty much would have the answer for him when we talk,” Franklin said.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

ELCS Game 4: Post-Game Notes

September 16, 2012

For the second time in three seasons, a visiting team was celebrating a championship at Waterfront Park.  And no disrespect to the 2010 Thunder, but this group deserved better.  Whether they overachieved as the media has portrayed them to have done or whether they were underestimated as their manager believes they were is no matter.  This was truly a fantastic group of players who deserved to win a ring and went above and beyond what everyone assumed they could to go towards earning one.

But, with that said, they lost to the better team.  Akron outplayed them all series — sure, not without the help of a few calls going their way — and they too got what they deserved.

The final call that went Akron’s way came early in this one.  Adonis Garcia hit a leadoff triple off of Aeros starter Toru Murata in the bottom of the first inning, and headed home when David Adams hit the ball on the ground towards first baseman Jesus Aguilar.  Aguilar threw home and Garcia appeared to nick the plate with his left hand, all while eluding the tag of catcher Roberto Perez, who clearly never tagged Garcia.  But home plate umpire Shaun Lampe never made a call, suggesting that Garcia never touched the plate either — which pictures from two separate photographers proved he did — which led to Perez following Garcia to the Thunder dugout to tag him out.

This, of course, led to a heated argument between Lampe and Tony Franklin, but there was no ejection or helmet spiking this time around.

There were two Akron runs in the next inning, though.  After Nik Turley issued a one out walk to Matt Lawson, Adam Abraham tripled him home and then scored himself after a Ryan Rohlinger sac fly.  J.R. Murphy homered in the bottom of the second to cut the lead in half, but played a big role in Akron getting that two-run cushion back in the fifth.

Perez doubled to right with Rohlinger on second, and Zoilo Almonte’s throw home beat Rohlinger by several feet.  But Murphy couldn’t hang on to the ball after reaching back to try to tag Perez, and Akron got up, 3-1.

Things fell completely apart in the top of the ninth, when Akron sent nine men to the plate against the duo of Ryan Pope and Lee Hyde.  After inducing a groundout from Abraham, Pope allowed the next four batters to reach on alternating walks and singles.  Jordan Henry drove in three with a single that left fielder Ramon Flores had trouble with, and Hyde had issues of his own when he airmailed Murphy on an intentional walk of Chun Chen, which ultimately didn’t hurt Trenton.

The game would have been far more interesting in the bottom of the ninth had it been 3-1 and not 6-1.  After Preston Guilmet got the first two outs with ease, Trenton loaded the bases via an Addison Maruszak single and walks to Murphy and Kevin Mahoney.  But Rob Segedin’s grondout ended the game and sealed the series for the Aeros. 

QUOTES…

TONY FRANKLIN

“It’s tough to do. I think the call in the first inning just kind of set the tone for things to come. If it had gone the other way, I’m not sure what would have happened. It just kind of set the tone for the game, we just couldn’t get on track.”

“I’m extremely proud of this group, more than I could express. I think this group of guys were kind of underestimated as far as how far they were going to go. I certainly didn’t know in the beginning, but after the first month of the season when you start to recognize your personalities, it was very evident to me that we had a bunch of guys who were very motivated to do some good things. The additional people we got came with the same attitude and it makes for a pretty good team setting. That’s what made this team what they were.”

“I would say that because of the personalities out there (holding it together in the losing streak) was pretty big for us. We could have gone south, there’s no question about that. But I never gave up on them, I thought every game there was some positive things that came out even though we were losing night after night…I would think that’s as big as it gets. Holding it together was huge for us.”

“(Aeros celebrating audible in Thunder clubhouse) That’s what championship teams do when they win the final game of the series, and it’s not unusual. As I told them, losses hurt. This loss in this venue, in this game, they hurt a little deeper, no question about it. Simply because you put so much effort into the game and to your daily routine and the expectations are high, then you come out on the losing end. That’s tough to take, even for me. After all these years, it’s tough for me to take, and I’m going to think about this in the next few days and I’m not going to feel good about it. But I’m going to come back just like they’re going to come back and we’ll have to see if we’re better next year.”

ADDISON MARUSZAK

“There’s nothing more you can say. We played aggressive, but they beat us. They outhit us, outpitched us. We didn’t get hits at the right time. They just flat out beat us today, just like we grinded it out yesterday. Unfortunately, they we had to win all the rest and they only had to win one. They just flat out beat us.”

“You can’t count this team out, especially since we led the league in home runs. We hit a home run there, and we’re one down. Walter comes up, and he’s put together great at-bats but unfortunately hasn’t got any hits, he was due for a hit. You never know what might happen, so you can never give up, especially with a team like ours where a home run is a pitch away all the time. Unfortunately the ball didn’t fall.”

“It always feels like (calls go against you) when you lose, and that’s the truth. No matter what, whenever you lose, you always tend to think about what other people did instead of what you did. That’s the biggest thing with our team, is we take accountability of what we’ve done and what we’ve done wrong to lose games. That’s throughout the whole year, not just today. It is what it is. I thought he did pretty good behind the plate, I don’t know about the call at home. We don’t have replay and stuff, but he thought he was safe.”

“(On at what point he’s able to reflect on his own season) Probably on the drive home. That’s when you go back, think about what you’ve done and what you need to work on. I’m going to be at the complex probably day three to go over statistical stuff, just like I did last year, with James Rowson, who’s not our hitting coordinator anymore, to see what I can work on in the offseason. That’s the first time I’ve went over in-depth statistics, and it helped. I know the season’s over, and it’s hard because we didn’t win, but for me the preparation for next year begins right away. There’s no other way. If no one’s going to practice, I’m going to be the first to practice then, because I want to be a step ahead of everybody.”

DAVID ADAMS

“I don’t think there’s a guy in here that isn’t upset or disappointed. You come into something like this, coming into a championship and you expect the best. We didn’t have things go our way in Game 2, and obviously we didn’t have things go our way tonight. It’s disappointing, that’s for sure.”

“That’s what I was hoping for (one last rally in the ninth), honestly I think four or five guys on the bench were like, ‘Seggy, you put up a big one right here and it’s over.’ But you’ve got to tip your hats to those guys, they played well all year and they had our number early in the year. They beat us, they just beat us.”

“The first inning (was when we had a chance against Murata), that was a huge momentum breaker for us. After that, it just seemed like we couldn’t get anything going. We couldn’t get guys on base, we only had three hits off the guy. It’s tough to win ballgames when you only have three hits.”

“You can never blame calls. You can look at Game 2, that first inning. If I don’t make an error, we’re out of that inning. You can point your finger at umpires and this and that, but they try to call the game the best they can, they’re human. People make mistakes, so I’m not going to point the finger at that. We just didn’t do enough to win.”

“I’m happy that I stayed healthy, that was a huge positive for me. Honestly, that was one of my only goals this year, to stay healthy. Everything after that was a bonus. For me personally, it wasn’t the best year, but I think if you asked a lot of guys that and they’d say the same thing. I think we as athletes and as competitors have high standards, and I guarantee that all the guys in here didn’t meet them.”


ADAM ABRAHAM (pictured)

“It feels good to win, and I think everyone played a different part all year long in helping this team win. All year long, it’s been somebody different, whether it was a starting pitcher or a relief guy or someone in the lineup every night was playing a different role. In this series, I happened to have a good series and was able to drive in a few key runs. I’m just glad we got a chance to win, it’s always fun to win.”

“Obviously, that’s a favorable call. Any time you can get that first run, it’s a big advantage. But we took the break and we ran with it. We were able to capitalize on it by getting two the next inning. It’s basically what we’ve done all year, capitalizing on our opportunities.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Akron Aeros Win 2012 Eastern League Championship

September 16, 2012

This was the scene at Waterfront Park tonight…the Akron Aeros pulled away late and beat the Trenton Thunder, 6-1 to win Game 4 and take the Eastern League title.

A full post with notes and quotes is coming soon.  Akron’s Adam Abraham was named the Eastern League Postseason MVP.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

ELCS Game 4: Pre-Game Notes

September 15, 2012

5:30 PM — Rather than explain the Tyler Austin situation from yesterday to you, I’ll simply pass along Tony Franklin’s comments about it…

“I had him in the lineup originally, and he had a little bit of an ankle issue.  He’s had an ankle issue since he’s been here, he’s been icing it and trying to get through it, and he has.  I was a little premature with the lineup, but that’s because I hadn’t talked to (trainer) Scott (DiFrancesco) and I assumed he was going to be OK.  So, I had him in the lineup.  He saw the doctor and the doctor wasn’t sure and took X-Rays and an MRI.  I got him in there because the doctor said he was fine to go.  I sent him out to jog and he wasn’t feeling good, so I got him out of the lineup because we think that’s what’s best for his career.  It doesn’t make any sense to get him in there for one game and risk him hurt himself and damaging himself.  We’ve got time to wait on this youngster.  In my judgment, Scott’s judgment and the Yankees’ judgment, it was best to get him out of the lineup.”

“We’re being very cautious with this injury.  This is something that he’s had this season, and I don’t think it’s career-threatening, but it’s something that needs to be attended to.  The kid could have played, he wanted to play badly.  He came in here and Scott came in with him, and we explained to him the importance of why he shouldn’t play and the benefits of resting and living to play another day.”

“We’re not going to play him, period.  It’s not worth it.  He was fine until he jumped and aggravated in I think the last game in Akron, he was fine and he was ready to play.  But when he says, ‘I feel like if I jump, I’d aggravate it again,’ that’s just common sense to get him out of there.”

“As long as we’ve got one guy on that bench, we’ve got enough.  So the fact that we’ve got two men on the bench, that doesn’t bother me at all.  That happens from time to time.  Yes, it’s late in the season.  I’m sure if we go into tomorrow’s game and someone gets injured, we could replace him right away.  That’s not a problem.  I don’t worry about how many guys we have available, because what we have is enough.”

“We could (replace Austin today), but we’re not.  Why we’re not, I don’t have an answer for you.  We’re fine.  We talked about it within the organization, and I think we’re just fine with what we’ve got.  In an emergency, he could (pinch hit) in an emergency, yes.  But we’re not going to send the kid out there for nine innings to play.””

3:15 PM — Lineups, which are the same as yesterday…

Thunder lineup: Garcia CF, Flores LF, Adams 3B, Almonte RF, Maruszak SS, Murphy C, Mahoney 1B, Segedin DH, Ibarra 2B, Turley P.

Aeros lineup: Henry RF, Holt CF, Chen DH, Aguilar 1B, Lawson 2B, Abraham LF, Rohlinger 3B, Stoneburner SS, Perez C, Murata P

That means no Tyler Austin, whose season may be over if I’m reading into yesterday’s lineup debacle properly.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

ELCS Game 3: Post-Game Notes

September 15, 2012

Rehabbing Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco had a rough start in Game 3, allowing a three-run home run to Zoilo Almonte.

– If you weren’t at Waterfront Park on Friday night, you missed a hell of a ballgame. The Thunder won, 11-7, to extend the series to Game 4 on Saturday, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all the twists and turns that played out in this one.For the second straight night, the Thunder received a poor performance from their starting pitcher, this time Mikey O’Brien. O’Brien, who had pitched particularly well down the stretch after a so-so middle of the season, allowed a leadoff single to Jordan Henry, who was moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Holt. Then, with Chun Chen up, O’Brien uncorked a wild pitch that advanced Henry to third, which was followed by a Chen single to right that scored Henry and put the Thunder in an early 1-0 hole.

Zoilo Almonte mishandled the ball in right field and allowed Chen to advance to second, but it wouldn’t cost the Thunder. The curveball that rehabbing Cleveland Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco hung to Almonte in the bottom half of the inning certainly cost the Aeros, however.

Carrasco, who has not thrown a big league pitch since undergoing Tommy John surgery in September of 2011, was scheduled to throw two innings for Akron tonight, but the first one certainly did not go as he planned. The first four batters he faced reached safely, capped by a David Adams RBI single and three-run blast to left by Almonte that gave the Thunder a 4-1 lead. It didn’t last.

Adam Abraham hit a leadoff home run off of O’Brien in the second inning, but it was the third where the Aeros did the most damage. Much like Carrasco did in the first, O’Brien let the first four men he faced in the third reach safely, which led to a quick hook by manager Tony Franklin.

Three straight singles loaded the bases for Jesus Aguilar, but they were quickly unloaded without even so much as a swing of the bat when O’Brien issued another wild pitch, bringing Akron to within one. Aguilar then doubled to score the other two, and just like that, Akron was back on top, 5-4. That didn’t last either.

Akron tacked on two runs off of reliever Graham Stoneburner in the fifth to make it a 7-4 game, but the Thunder came back with four runs of their own in the bottom half. After Aeros reliever T.J. House — typically a starter, but forced to a relief appearance by Carrasco’s outing — retired the first two men he faced, Adonis Garcia started the rally with a single to center field, which was followed by a Ramon Flores walk and Adams HBP, which loaded the bases for Almonte. Almonte delivered once again, singling up the middle to score two runs and cut the deficit to just one. Addison Maruszak followed that up with a two-run double, and the Thunder had miraculously regained the lead.

This time, it stuck. But it wasn’t uneventful.

Tom Kahnle came in to pitch the sixth inning for Trenton after three frames for Stoneburner and walked the bases loaded before getting yanked by Franklin in favor of Branden Pinder. Pinder, faced with a bases loaded, no-out scenario, masterfully escaped without damage. Facing Akron’s 2-3-4 hitters, Pinder struck out Tyler Holt, induced a pop-out from Chen and whiffed Aguilar to keep the Thunder on top, 8-7.

Trenton tacked on a run each in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and cruised to an 11-7 victory to get the series to Game 4 on Saturday. Nik Turley is scheduled to start for the Thunder.

QUOTES…

CARLOS CARRASCO

“I felt good. I just try to throw everything for strikes. I didn’t make bad pitches. The curveball for the home run, the guy had a lot of power and he got it. I have nothing to say about that. I just
feel good.”

“I tried to throw a back door curveball and I think it was a hanger around the middle a little bit up. He got it.”

“I think I feel comfortable in the first inning, relaxed. I tried to get my delivery (consistent) and everything. In this kind of game, everybody is (looking) first pitch on everything. (Second inning) I
came in and threw a little more hard and consistent with my fastball and my breaking pitches. In the first inning, I felt like I was more down and looking for the zone.”

“Right now, I feel different after two innings. I think it’s a good sign for me, I felt good in my second inning. Everything’s good.”

TONY FRANKLIN

“That was really a nice game. It’s great that we came out on top, but it was a good game. I enjoyed watching it, we played well. We got off to a great start, gave the lead up, and then had the ability come back. This is what we do, we’re going to go out there and grind away and see where we are at the end of the night.”

“(Pinder) has been very good for us when he’s come in. He’s given us a pretty good lift. We had the same thing with Aardsma the other night in Akron with the bases loaded and no outs, and Pinder comes in and does it again. Those are huge outs for us right there, the game could have gone the other way. He’s been absolutely fantastic.”

“It just kind of turns out that (Pinder) was the guy who was up and ready to come into the game. He’s certainly making a bid to be that guy (who gets us out of jams) as time goes by. He’s been pretty doggone good.”

“We use everybody (in the bullpen going forward). We use everybody we have to use, that’s the way it is right now. You go to the guys you feel are going to get the outs for you, but everyone’s available. I don’t think we’d throw the starters, we’ve got enough bullpen to handle it. Before this series is over, there’s a good chance that everybody’s going to be in there.”

“I’ve seen that quite a bit this year, (Zoilo) can look bad sometimes but he’ll come right back in that same at-bat and punch one out of here. An opposite field home run like that, I was saying, ‘My goodness, that ball is going out.’ When it left the bat, I didn’t think it was. But about halfway out there, I thought it was going to go. And it did. He’s strong.”

BRANDEN PINDER

“(There’s) no room for error, that’s for sure. I’ve just got to go in there and throw strikes and try and get outs. Murphy told me not to strike everyone out. In that situation, you kind of have to.”

“I’m used to (pressure). That’s when I want to be in. If that’s what they want me to do, I’m going to do it.”

“(Aguilar) I knew it was foul. 2-0 fastball. He knew it was coming. After that, he was done, so.”

“Definitely, the momentum switched after that (sixth inning). We score a couple of runs, then 8 and 9, Monty, Pope.”

“It’s fun, especially moving up levels. You just have to get ahead, throw strikes and put ‘em away.  I’m not too emotional when I’m out there. I have to keep my composure when I’m on the mound. I can’t have that bad body language.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

VIDEO: David Aardsma Rehab Outing, 9/14/2012

September 14, 2012

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

VIDEO: ELCS Game 3

September 14, 2012

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com


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