– Wilkin De La Rosa pitched a gem, spinning six scoreless innings of two-hit ball, walking just one and striking out eight. But really, nobody’s going to remember that. They’re going to remember that this was the night that the much heralded Jesus Montero made his Double-A debut.
“I feel great, feel very good for my first game,” said Montero, who no longer uses a translator as he did at the Futures Game.
“I hope everything goes better than tonight, but I feel really good today about catching. And we won the game and did everything together. I helped the team to win.”
Without being prompted, manager Tony Franklin was quick to give his newest player some credit for De La Rosa’s success.
“We were looking for De La Rosa to bounce back and have a good game,” Franklin said.
“He did a very nice job today, his rhythm was very good and his tempo was good. When he’s like that, he just goes and his pitches are fantastic. And I think Montero had a lot to do with it, I really do. Today they clicked, and it worked really well.”
De La Rosa didn’t seem to disagree.
“I felt really comfortable with Montero today,” said De La Rosa through interpreter/actual living, breathing baseball player Jesus Montero.
“We’ve been together for a lot of years; Rookie, Charleston, Tampa and right now. I feel like I have a lot of confidence with him. I feel like I can throw everything because I’m comfortable with him.”
As for Montero, his Double-A debut was somewhat of a mixed bag. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI single — and yes, he got to keep the baseball from that — two runs scored, a walk and a strikeout.
But he also went 0-for-2 in throwing out attempted basestealers, which is something that’s plagued his game in the past.
“Sometimes they’re going to be out, and sometimes they’re going to be safe,” said Montero with a smile.
“But that’s OK, that can happen in the game sometimes. I just have to try to do my best.”
— The win vaulted Trenton, now 28-23, into sole possession of first place for the first time all season.
“It’s a good place to be,” Franklin said.
“The reason it’s a good place to be is that it tells you that you’re playing some pretty good baseball, and that’s the only thing that I’m after and I think the team is after on a daily basis. Where you finish will take care of itself if you play good baseball.”
— Kanekoa Texeira nearly sparked a benches clearing incident in the eighth inning, when he threw a first pitch fastball at Bowie catcher Guillermo Rodriguez’s rear end after Colin Curtis had been hit previously. Curtis had to be removed from the game in favor of Seth Fortenberry, but is apparently fine.
Rodriguez started walking towards Texeira — Texeira said he thought Rodriguez must have thought he was Spanish because he was yelling at him in Spanish — and the Thunder dugout was chirping right back at him. But players remained at their positions on the field and in the dugout, and nothing further became of it.
“It was a pretty exciting game towards the end, but I guess you’ve got to have fun like that,” Texeira said.
So did the pitch…ummm, slip?
“It’s part of baseball,” he said.
“If you hit somebody on purpose, you’ve got to believe, especially as a catcher, we’re going to retaliate. And we did, and it happened. It’s part of the game for me, that’s what I think. You’re not going to headhunt him or go for his kneecaps, you’re going to go for a place it won’t hurt that bad. And I did. It’s over with and done.”
Whether it be Rodriguez’s wallet or a specific spot where his catcher is setting up, Texeira has been one of Trenton’s best and most consistent relievers this season, and this outing was no exception, as he allowed just one baserunner in three innings of work while on the way to collecting his second save of the year.
“I’m just trying to keep the ball down with movement, that’s basically what I’m doing. It’s working,” Texeira said.
“My sinker’s kind of been the big deal for me right now. It looks middle of the plate and they’re swinging, and all of a sudden it jumps in it at them and they start jumping away and swinging. I’m getting a lot of ground balls, and I think that’s what they got me for. To get ground balls instead of fly balls. In Yankee Stadium, fly balls have been flying out now. Keep the ball down low, that’s basically all that I’m trying to do right now.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com