— I was your friendly Trentonian beat writer for the evening. Your regularly scheduled guest, Josh Norris, will be back tomorrow to regale you with tales of baseball and lemurs. Read my early story on Austin Romine’s “day off” and Julius Matos here, my game story here and my scrapped story on Shaeffer Hall here.
— That was an interesting contest. From a fan standpoint, that must have been a blast. From a beat writer on deadline standpoint, it made me punch a few walls. Shaeffer Hall flat out did not have his good stuff tonight, and as I mentioned in that game story, it only took about three pitches to figure that out. He was down 2-0 three pitches into his outing after a triple by Darin Mastroianni (why is he still in this league?!?!) and a bomb by Adeiny Hechavarria He’d been pretty consistent all year, and put together two really good starts in a row before this one.
The line isn’t particularly pretty: 7 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 2 HR, 1 WP; 94 pitches…but the key there is the seven innings. With nowhere near his best stuff, he gave his team a solid outing and was able to minimize damage in the latter half of that outing.
“Can’t say enough about what he did tonight,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.
“You didn’t expect that kind of performance from him after the first couple innings, you kind of assumed that he doesn’t have his good stuff, and he didn’t. But what I did say to (pitching coach Tommy Phelps) around the sixth inning was, ‘The guy’s got some guts.’ It takes a heck of a guy and a guy with good character and determination to go out there and to pitch the way he pitched after the first couple innings and give us seven innings and a chance to win. It was pretty special and i says a lot about him.”
— Tim Norton made things a little interesting tonight, sure, but he got of his self-created jam and collected his fifth save of the season. He also lowered his ERA to 1.61 and recorded yet another strikeout in the process. The “move Norton up to Scranton” bandwagon is getting more and more full by the day, and it seems the “move Norton into the closer’s role” bandwagon may have very well tipped over…
“We’re not defining roles, but he’s a hot guy. He’s been hot. I will say he’s the guy we’ve been going to,” Franklin said.
“I think without defining roles, he’s the guy we’ll go to and give the ball to in that situation, so you can probably say he’s the guy.”
When asked about Fernando Hernandez, who had been closing, Franklin said it creates “available innings” for the former major leaguer.
— 17 hits for the Thunder was a season high. Three players had three hits a piece — Ray Kruml, Corban Joseph and Cody Johnson. Every Trenton starter had at least one hit except for, of course, Brad Suttle, who went 2-for-2 with two walks yesterday.
Ever since lower his hands at the suggestion of James Rowson, and we’ll get to him in a minute, Johnson has really, really turned things around.
— Not entirely sure what Jose Pirela is thinking trying to stretch an eighth inning leadoff double into a triple with his team up by one. Have to play it safe there.
— Moving to non-game related things, Austin Romine did not participate in any physical activities today. He wasn’t even outside in the dugout for early drills or batting practice, instead sitting in the clubhouse in a Yankees hoodie. Everything I was told by both Romine and Franklin was that this is just an off day and I take them at their word, but as I also wrote in the paper…time will tell if it’s more than that. Hopefully, it isn’t.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he missed the game after the one in which he got trucked at the plate by Travis Scott…but I also don’t think it is a bad idea to give him a day off given the circumstances of that collision. I’d be surprised if a guy goes from not doing anything at all today to being in the lineup tomorrow, but we’ll see how it goes.
Something that is also worth making perfectly clear is that while Scott trucked Romine pretty good, everyone involved thought it was a clean play. Myself included. Definitely one of the “better” collisions at home plate I’ve seen — I remember Jason Brown nearly sparking a benches-clearing brawl against I think Binghamton a few years back after he got rocked, held onto the ball and then spiked it — in recent years.
The inevitable Buster Posey question came up, and Romine was asked about his opinion on potential rule changes…
“It’s been all over TV, and you guys have probably noticed too, there’s more collisions out of nowhere in the past couple weeks,” he said.
“We talked about it, and I don’t think the rule should get changed. I really don’t. I think it’s been one way for a long time, and I think it’s part of the game. By no way do I condone people going headhunting, I think that’s a little bush league. But if you’ve got the plate, slide to the plate. If you don’t, hit the catcher. Like last night, he didn’t have the plate, so he had to hit me.”
— The Julius Matos drama is more or less over, but the talking isn’t over quite yet. You can read some of Tony Franklin’s quotes on the matter in the story I linked to up top…but there was some stuff that didn’t have room to make it in print.
I asked Franklin if Matos had reached out to him or vice versa, and he replied with a yes, and then said the following: “Well, I’m not going to speak much about what happened, but all that has happened for me right now…it’s in the past, we’ve moved on. Whether he’s reached out to me or not, I don’t think is important right now. What I think is important is what good or what can happen from this point on. And I wish, and my greatest hope, is that things work out well for everybody.”
“It’s not easy to talk about these situations, because it’s out of the ordinary and it’s not related to the play on the field. And that’s what I know best, is the play on the field…this involves more personal actions, it involves someone’s life. It’s not a good situation to be in.”
“I give the players credit, I think they understand the ramifications of what has happened. It’s not easy for them either, because they’re kind of caught in the middle. What should or shouldn’t I say? What should I do? How do I go about doing my daily business of playing baseball?”
For the record, I would like to reach out to Matos to get his side of things…I don’t want this to be one-sided. But he obviously isn’t available.
— Was nice getting to speak to James Rowson for the first time today. Friendly, pleasant guy.
“I’ve done this prior to becoming a hitting coordinator, I was a hitting coach,” said Rowson in a chat with myself and John Nalbone.
“So, I’m familiar with it and I’m familiar with the guys. As a coordinator, you have a few more responsibilities, but at the same time you’re basically helping your hitting coaches do the same thing. So it’s not really an adjustment for me because I’ve been in this role before.”
As a player, Rowson never reached the big leagues…didn’t get as far as Double-A actually in three pro seasons. So for guys trying to get out of Double-A and to the big leagues, Rowson’s approach might be a tough sell on paper…in reality? Not at all.
“I think it’s the way you work with the players,” Rowson said.
“Obviously, I go back to my playing days, and I played the game and I tried to learn as much as I could from the people that were around. I took to the game. I had some people around me, like Gary Denbo, who was my hitting coordinator and is still with the Yankees, and I learned a lot from him. I learned a lot from the way he worked. Sometimes, you’re not able to do it athletically as a player, but you’re not paid to do that, you’re paid to teach these guys how to do it. You try to teach them how to use your athleticism, and hopefully they’ll make it further than you did.”
Rowson has not been given any sort of indication as to how long he’ll be here, but says he’ll stay as long as it takes.
— Warner Madrigal lasted just two abysmal appearances with the Thunder before being shut down with an elbow injury. Turns out, according to my handy-dandy sources, that he’ll need surgery. I don’t have any more specifics than that (i.e. whether it’s TJ or not) but I would not expect him back.
— Somewhat oddly, Melky Mesa politely declined my request to speak to him about his lower back injury, directing all my questions to team trainer Tim Lentych. I, of course, am not allowed to ask the trainer about player injuries. Mesa did say that he was feeling better, but that was all he had to offer. He did not participate in physical activities prior to gametime.
— I love velo’s, yes I do…I love velo’s, how about you? Shaeffer Hall was at around 86 MPH tonight, and Tim Norton was around 94 MPH. New Hampshire starter Zach Stewart was at 92 MPH.
— Come on, did you really think I was going to give you that Hall story? Enjoy Rick Astley. Unlike me, he’ll never let you down. As for the story, I have to re-write it a bit, but you’ll see it on here now…same with the Cody Johnson story.
— More random photos? OK.
The man, the myth, the mustache…Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano signs an autograph prior to the game.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com