Game 116: Post-Game Notes

— This game was brought to you by the letter “E.” 

On their way to reaching a new low, the Thunder commited four errors in a 27 minute top of the fifth that resulted in Binghamton turning a 2-2 tie into a 9-2 laugher.  While Shaeffer Hall did little to help his own cause, allowing 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings of work, part of his bizarre line reflected the true story of the game: eight runs allowed, two earned.

Jose Pirela, Addison Maruszak, Rob Lyerly and Jose Gil all racked up errors in the fifth inning tonight…and surprisingly, given that this was his 32nd E-6 of the season, Pirela’s was probably the least deserved of them all, as it came on somewhat of a miscommunication with Maruszak.  You could hear Maruszak calling for the ball from third base on the grounder up the left side, running towards and in front of Pirela…but Maruszak, possibly fearing a collision, backed off at the last second, which gave Pirela no chance to field the ball. 

It was that kind of night.

Trenton dropped to 58-58, their first time at .500 since May 8th.

Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who seemed to be on the verge of letting his team have it after last night’s debacle, has inched ever closer to the ledge, but refuses to jump off…that is, light into his underachieiving group.  Before the game, the topic of conversation with the media focused largely on the effect poor infield defense has had on the team’s recent skid.  It was a subject that Franklin had addressed and focused on with his players.  It was a message that apparently did not get through.

“I’m not happy, they shouldn’t be happy.  I don’t think they are,” he said.

“It’s frustrating to watch the same kind of play every night.  We spoke about that in here last night, and I just spoke about that to them out there (in the clubhouse).  I spoke about it to them earlier this afternoon, and it continues to happen.  What I told them is that we’ve got a problem, and we’ve got to fix it.  It’s plain and simple.  There’s only one way I know how to fix it, and that’s go back to the beginning and start over again.  As late as it is, it’s gotten to the point where we need to start over again because I thought we were beyond that point.  We’re playing now like we were playing in April, and that’s not a good sign.”

Franklin’s concerns are the same as they’ve been over the past few days: Are his players focused?  Are they more worried about going home in September than getting into the playoffs? 

“What I do know, and I don’t know why we’re doing this, is that we’re in the majority of these games until we start missing plays,” he said.

“We start missing plays, and it just snowballs.  It’s overwhelming.  We can’t afford to have it be overwhelming.  We’re missing too many of the ‘Baseball 101’ things, and we’ve got to stop that.  We’ve got to get better than that.”

— The Thunder have now gone three consecutive games without a player having a multi-hit game.  Opponents multi-hit games in that span?  Nine.

— Trenton has not led in their last 27 innings of baseball.

— During their 10-25 slide, which started on July 3, the Thunder’s team batting average has dropped from .250 to .249.  The team ERA?  Has gone up from 3.63 to 3.86.  Really, not that bad.  Surprisingly not that bad.

— Matt Harvey was the story tonight, and he was going to be no matter what happened.  The seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft out of North Carolina, the first-year pro was making just his eighth Double-A start.  The 2011 Futures Game alum showed flashes of the stuff that earned him a $2.525 million bonus through his five innings tonight, walking none and striking out six while touching 97 MPH on the radar gun.

Harvey, who is fairly inarguably the best pitching prospect not named Dellin Betances or Manny Banuelos to set foot on the Waterfront Park mound this season, attracted a good deal of local media attention: SNY and The Wall Street Journal were both on hand to cover his performance.  The 22-year-old threw 83 pitches — 58 for strikes — en route to picking up his second Double-A win.  Three B-Mets relievers combined to allow just two hits and shut the Thunder down over the final four frames. 

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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