— It goes without saying that this isn’t the start that either Trenton Thunder as a whole or key members of the team were looking for.
The Thunder fell to 0-2 after a 3-1 loss to Fisher Cats on another cold night at Waterfront Park. They’ve scored just four runs in their first two games, and their starting pitchers have lasted a combined eight innings, compared to 11 for New Hampshire.
“We didn’t score enough, I know that,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin. “We were in the game, we just haven’t put any hits together in these two games that are going to sustain us for runs. That’s what we’re going to have to do. We haven’t been out of either of the two games. I’m looking for an outburst of some runs, maybe five or six runs, and we can come out with a W. We haven’t done it so far, though.”
One night after Shaeffer Hall needed 72 pitches to get through his Opening Day outing, Stoneburner required 66 (42 strikes) for his initial effort tonight.
“I thought he did OK,” Franklin said.
“It’s early in the season, and he doesn’t have a great allotment of pitches, but he got close to his 70-75 pitches. It was time to make a change. I thought he could be a little more pitch efficient. As the season progresses, he’ll be good. He doesn’t give you a whole lot to hit.”
Speaking of not a lot of hitting, Trenton’s 3-4 hitter duo of David Adams and Zoilo Almonte (left) have combined to go 0-for-13 in the first two games, something that will have to improve as the season progresses if the team hopes to get on the right side of the win column. Franklin, as he shouldn’t be given that it’s just two games, certainly isn’t panicking.
“I think it’s going to happen,” he said. “I’m not panicking, it’s two games. It’s not a whole lot, it’s hard to see what they’re going to do, but we hope they get things turned around. We all would like to have everybody up there and go 3-for-3 or 4-for-4, but it doesn’t happen that way sometimes. It takes a little while to get going. 0-for-13 in those two slots? Yeah, we’d like to see some more production, but I think it’ll come. No big deal.”
— Another blunder cost the Thunder. It may rhyme, but I’m sure there aren’t too many people laughing. Down 2-1 in the fifth inning after Ryan Pope got knocked around to the tune of three hits and two walks, Walter Ibarra reached on a fielding error by first baseman Mike McDade, who drove in both fifth inning Fisher Cats runs. But Ibarra was promptly picked off of first by catcher A.J. Jimenez. That wouldn’t have looked quite as bad had Abraham Almonte not doubled one batter later, which would have at the very least put runners on second and third with two outs. With offense seemingly at a premium for this team in the early stages, plays like that can make or break a game.
— There haven’t been a ton of bright spots through the first 18 innings of the season, but Abraham Almonte’s play would certainly qualify as a big one. He led off yesterday’s game with a double, and went 2-for-4 tonight with a double and a home run to right field.
— Chase Whitley’s first outing of the year was a success as well. He looked dominant, striking out four New Hampshire batters in two innings of flawless work.
“I just kind of went out there and tried to keep it close,” he said.
“There were some balls I left over the middle that they just missed, but overall I was pleased. It’s always good to have a good outing, but to start a season especially and get some momentum going forward, it’s nice. But now that one’s behind me, and I have to look forward to the next one.”
— Jose Gil came into the season expecting to be the everyday catcher for the Thunder. But he sat in favor of Gustavo Molina tonight, which may become a common theme at some point this season if the roster remains the same. So far, both players have said all the right things.
“To me, I’m prepared to play any time they put me in to play,” Gil said.
“It’s going to be a hard time, but at the same time, I don’t think much about it. I’m going to play my game whenever they want me to play and do my best.”
Gil and Molina played in Winter Ball together, and Gil actually seems to be looking forward to picking the brain of his catching counterpart, who is older and more experienced.
“I know him, and I’m going to try to learn as much as I can,” he said. “He already played in the big leagues and he’s got more experience than me, and of course I try to learn as much as I can. He knows how to catch.”
— While the beginning of this year seems to feel like an extension of the end of last year for Trenton, I can’t help but think back to the 2006 Thunder. They started out 0-10 and scored a whopping 20 runs during that timeframe. But, as long-time staffer and “proof of performance” enthusiast Eric Lipsman pointed out, that team also ended up going 82-60 and won the division. Do I see that happening with this year’s squad? Absolutely not. But it sure would be entertaining if Franklin, like his fiery predecessor Bill Masse did, guaranteed his team would make the playoffs.
For right now, however, he’s just going to try to win a game.
— Here’s some video from tonight as well. Nothing too exciting…
— Real quick, not to be a self-serving jackass, but tonight’s contest was the 1000th game I’ve covered in my career. A little more than a quarter of those have come at Waterfront Park, and I can’t say enough about my experience there over the past nine years. It’s been a great place to work, and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to do so with so many amazing people there.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com