— Quite a bit to get to, and I’ve got to get up super early for Hughes Fest. Fantastic. So let’s get started…
— Speaking of Phil Hughes, he’s set to throw 85 pitches tomorrow. If you’re looking for a story on the other rehabbing big league pitcher, I’ve got a Jesse Litsch piece for you underneath this one.
— Litsch looked flat out untouchable through three, and then Corban Joseph and Brad Suttle combined to give Trenton a 1-0 lead on a double and single, respectively. Joseph has been red-hot lately, and took over the team lead in batting average (.293) with a 3-for-4 night.
“He’s raking,” said Suttle with a smile. “I mean, he’s a great hitter. He’s been big for us. He’s just hot right now, there’s not much else to say.”
Suttle had a solid night himself…combined he and Joseph went 5-for-8, while the rest of the team went 2-for-23.
“I’ve been seeing a lot of pitches, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been pretty successful,” Joseph said.
“I’m getting in deeper counts and in counts where they have to throw me a fastball. I’m pretty comfortable enough to foul off pitches and get to 3-2 counts. Seeing a lot of pitches, it gives me an idea late in the game of when they throw something, what it’s going to do.”
Joseph struggled last season, hitting just .216 in 31 games before being shut down with wrist discomfort. While nobody wrote him off, it was also hard to expect this kind of turnaround from the talented 22-year-old second sacker.
“Last year was tough, it was a big adjustment,” Joseph said.
“Not only with coming here last year with having wrist soreness and stuff, but the fatigue of a full season was starting to wear and tear on my body. I was really tired. And guys up here are ten times better pitchers than they are in A-Ball, it’s a big adjustment for a position player to come in right off the bat and hit really well. You have to be selective, and that’s what I had to work on this off-season.”
— Manny Banuelos had another mixed bag of an outing. The line itself is good, he struck out seven and allowed one run on five hits. But he lasted just five innings, having thrown 93 pitches. Pitch efficiency is something that you’re going to see a lot when it comes to both he and Dellin Betances…and it’s not unfair to expect more than five innings out of a 93 pitch outing.
— Alan Horne never recorded a save in college, and he definitely has never had one in his pro career…until tonight. Horne came in to pitch the ninth inning with the Thunder up, 3-1, and pitched around a hit and a walk to get that first save.
“That was my first one, and it was pretty cool,” Horne told me.
“That’s a different role for me for sure, and it’s going to take a little bot of adjusting. But I thought I threw the ball pretty well for the most part. I would have liked to have gotten out of there a little quicker, I had the walk mixed in and got a little unfortunate with the broken bat single. But I was missing down the whole inning, and that was a big plus for me. The start I had, I was struggling and missing up. I was down in the zone, and as long as I do that, guys are going to be swinging a little more. I think I’ll be better off.”
Horne’s fastball was sitting at 90-91 MPH, but he also displayed a nasty curveball…
“I had a good curveball tonight, I was snapping it off short for the most part,” he said. “I was spinning it really nice, it’s kind of my arm angle and where it comes from, especially to righties. They flinch and it’s in the zone and out of the zone, and you don’t get the swings that you normally would. It wasn’t too bad for my first time out there in the ninth. It’s a different ballgame from the other eight. I was excited about the role though, it was fun.”
While manager Tony Franklin was unavailable to the media tonigth due to losing his voice to discuss the idea, Horne thinks he may have found a new role in the ninth inning.
“I think I may be there from now on, we’ll just have to see. Obviously, that’s not my call,” Horne said.
“I like the role, it’s something that everybody thinks about from time to time. Who hasn’t pictured coming out of the bullpen and closing games down at some point in time in their career? The big thing with me is going to see how my shoulder responds. I loosened up really quick tonight for having thrown two days ago. So far, so good. I think the shorter stint will do me some good and I’ll be able to go out there on a more regular basis.”
— Josh Romanski was introduced as “Joe Romanski” prior to throwing his first Double-A pitch. Thankfully, things got better from there. He allowed two hits and used a fair amount of offspeed pitches in the process, but he ended up pitching a scoreless eighth.