Archive for July 28th, 2009

Game 102: Post-Game Notes

July 28, 2009

– The Thunder can’t seem to get past the Harrisburg Senators, having lost five straight to them, including all three games on the road and the first two games of a critical five game series.  This afternoon’s tough 2-1 loss dropped the team to two games under .500 (50-52), which ties the furthest under the mark they’ve been since dropping to 40-43 on July 7th.

Jason Stephens, who said after the game that he expects to remain in the starting rotation for the time being, gave up seven hits through just three and a third innings, but escaped with only one run allowed. 

“You leave the balls over the middle of the plate, and they get hit,” Stephens said.

“Some of them weren’t well hit, and I got a few unlucky breaks.  But when you leave the ball in the zone, they’re going to hit it.  I’ve just got to stay out of the middle of the plate.  I don’t throw hard enough to live there.”

Considering the Thunder had scored just 11 runs in their previous five games, one run was all that Stephens could afford to give up. 

While any pitcher would be unwise to live over the middle of the plate, Stephens hasn’t known where he’ll be living at all at some points this season, having been shuttled between Tampa, Trenton and Scranton.

“All year, it’s been back and forth,” said Stephens of his roles and team assignments. 

“It’s not terrible.  It’s something that I’ve gotten used to, because I’ve done it for the past two seasons.  It’s definitely harder to go from relieving to starting, because you’ve got to work your pitch counts back up.  I’m going through that now.  That’s why I didn’t have a lot of pitches and I came out early.”

Jesus Montero tied the game at one in the bottom of the third inning on an RBI double to left field, the ball just evading the outstretched arm of Senators left fielder Marvin Lowrance.

After outstanding relief work out of Humberto Sanchez, the game remained tied at one when it was handed over to Grant Duff to start the seventh inning.

Harrisburg would score their winning run on a wild pitch by Duff, with the offering sailing over Harrisburg catcher Luke Montz’s head.

“He uncorked one high over Anson’s head, and there’s the difference,” Thunder manager Tony Franklin said.  “Otherwise, we’d still be playing,”

The Thunder had their chances late, but failed to execute on two bunts in the final two innings.  Noah Hall popped out to the pitcher in the eighth, and Marcos Vechionacci got way too much on a bunt down the first base line in the ninth, leading pinch runner Justin Snyder to get thrown out at second.

Players practice bunting every day in batting practice, so Franklin seems to think it’s just a matter of execution more than it is anything else.

“I think we’re preparing well enough,” Franklin said.

“We do pretty good pre-game stuff, but we’re not seeing it happen in the game.  And that happens when you’re in circumstances like this.”

Franklin seemed to agree with an assessment that the team is in a funk at the moment.

“The physical skills that they have, have not left them,” Franklin said.

“Their ability to hit and run and throw and field, it’s not left them, it’s there.  It’s just a matter of being able to do it right now.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 102: Harrisburg @ Trenton

July 28, 2009

Game 102 – Harrisburg Senators @ Trenton Thunder
July 28, 2009
Waterfront Park – Trenton, NJ

Pitching Matchup: HAR Adrian Alaniz vs. TRE Jason Stephens

Starting Lineups:

SENATORS

Michael Daniel, RF
Edgardo Baez, CF
Leonard Davis, DH
Joel Guzman, 3B
Marvin Lowrance, LF
Luke Montz, C
Bill Rhinehart, 1B
Freddie Bynum, SS
Jemel Spearman, 2B

THUNDER

Austin Krum, CF
Reegie Corona, 2B
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Jesus Montero, DH
Chris Malec, 1B
Noah Hall, LF
James Cooper, RF
Kyle Anson, C
Marcos Vechionacci, 3B

Radio Links: Click here for the links to each team’s broadcast.

Live Box Score: The MILB.com direct link is here.

Around the Eastern League: For scores from around the EL, go here.

In-Game Updates (LIVE from the ballpark): Joel Guzman with an RBI double to left…Noah Hall seemed to misjudge the ball off the bat and broke in, and then went back for the ball…but it went over his head.  1-0, Senators, T1.

Jesus Montero ties the game up at one in the bottom of the 3rd with an RBI double to left…1-1, B3.

Jason Stephens out after seven outs.  He gave up seven hits, but just one run.  Humberto Sanchez making his 2009 home debut now.

Grant Duff in to pitch the 7th…still 1-1.  Mercifully, the kiddies have started to leave.

The lead has left as well…Duff threw a wild pitch over Luke Montz’s head, and Harrisburg has a 2-1 lead in T8.

In-Game Photos:

alaniz

Adrian Alaniz

stephens

Jason Stephens

sanchez

Humberto Sanchez

In-Game YouTube Videos: Check out my YouTube account for videos updated throughout the game…

Final Score: 2-1, Senators

Thunder Thoughts:

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 101: Post-Game Notes

July 28, 2009

– The Thunder sank back to a game under .500 with a 9-1 loss in front of “over 6,000 fans” to the Harrisburg Senators.  Not likely to be included in the attendance tonight was Yankees farm director Mark Newman, who certainly couldn’t have liked the performance he saw from his Double-A club.

“They knew he was here,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin when asked if the players knew of Newman’s presence.

“But you have to chalk this up to maybe being one game at a point in time when you have your farm director and the vice president of the organization in town.  It’s happened before.  It’s not something you want to see happen, because you want to be impressive as much as you can, but you chalk it up and you move on and you try to be better tomorrow.  But certainly, we didn’t play very well.”

– Ryan Pope’s performance all season has been somewhat perplexing.  In some starts, he’s been absolutely dazzling, which is the way you could describe his last start on the road.  However, in others, such as tonight’s, he’s turned in some clunkers.

“If you miss (your location), you get hurt,” said Franklin of Pope’s performance.

“It’s kind of unfortunate that we had to leave Popey out there as long as we did.  But we’re a little thin right now, and sometimes you have to take one in the shorts.  I appreciate him staying out there.”

Pope, who fell to 4-8 and saw his ERA jump to 5.40 after tonight, didn’t seem to have a problem with having to wear it to benefit a short and somewhat beleaguered bullpen.

“I don’t mind,” he said.

“I’m out there to do my job, and as long as they’re going to leave me out there, I’m going to pitch.  You don’t have forever in this game.  You pitch as much as you can, and if I’m getting hit around, I want to pitch.  It’s my job to get out of it, and I just didn’t.”

– Chris Malec was with the Thunder very briefly in 2007, called up but never getting a chance to play.  Last season, he spent all of the year in Double-A. 

Both of those teams would go on to win Eastern League titles.

This year, after seeing some time in Scranton, Malec is back with the Thunder.  Considered one of the veteran leaders on the team and the go-to guy by the press, we asked Malec what the differences were between the previous Thunder clubs he was on and this one.

“I think it’s the same kind of talent level,” he said.

“Those teams might have been a little bit older.  But this team has the talent, as much if not more than the previous two years.  I think it’s just a matter of finding our niche and finding that confidence to start winning and put together a good streak.”

– Josh Schmidt will start one of the two games of the doubleheader on Wednesday.

“He’s done it before, and he’s been great for us this year,” said pitching coach Tommy Phelps of Schmidt’s performance as a starter.

“He comes out and attacks hitters and throws a lot of strikes.  He’s capable of giving us three or four innings, and that’s what we need, especially with the doubleheader.”

– Kanekoa Texeira no longer appears to be in the starting rotation…

– It doesn’t sound like Eric Wordekemper’s Scranton call-up will last too long.  Before the game, Franklin described it as a temporary situation, telling us he should be back shortly.  However, you can’t argue with the numbers he put up, pitching four innings and getting the win in Triple-A.

– Jorge Vazquez is getting closer to returning from the DL.  His wrist is no longer wrapped and he is now throwing.  He has not swung the bat yet, and is expected to see a doctor on the 29th with the hopes of getting cleared to play.

– Zach McAllister needs “a little more time” to return from his dead arm, according to Franklin.

– I did an interview over at the NYY Pinstriper website.  It doesn’t particularly feel like my fan club has anyone in it at the moment…but in any event, if you want to check it out, feel free to do so.

– I have a game-used bat and baseball card set to give away over the upcoming days.  Stay tuned for that.  If anyone wants a piece of my clipboard after that went flying through the press box the other day, I suppose I can give that away as well.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com