— The beauty of going on the road, at least as a reporter in the minor leagues, isn’t just limited to getting to explore new places. It’s also a more relaxed interview setting since you’re on the road and there’s less media to deal with, since Trenton is covered out the wazoo (technical term). Thus, it was just me in the Thunder clubhouse after the game. As such, whatever my take on the game was would be the line of questioning that everyone got, and well…it seemed to me that one guy beat the Thunder today.
That guy was Darin Ruf. Ruf was 3-for-3 with a two-run home run, two-run double, single and an intentional walk. Turns out, today’s Trenton starter, Shaeffer Hall, was familiar with Ruf, having previously played with him in the Cape Cod League.
“Now he has the bragging rights,” Hall said. “He’s a good hitter, and he got the best of me today. It just goes to show you that baseball is a funny game. You make two mistakes, and they make you pay. I’ve got to limit those mistakes, and if I did that, it would probably be a different outcome.”
Win or lose, Hall is always great to talk to. He’s always willing to give you some pretty in-depth stuff, and he went into great detail on what went wrong — outside of a Corban Joseph first inning error and Addison Maruszak third inning error prior to Ruf’s at-bats — on each pitch that Ruf did damage with.
“The home run in the first inning was a changeup that was down, but got out over the plate,” he said. “It didn’t tail. He didn’t really get it that good, but he made me pay. Then the single to right center was a fastball away, but I’ve got to be smarter about that. We’ve got a base open at first. I was trying to make a pitch, but he just went with it and drove in two.”
Against the rest of the order, Hall yielded only a Sebastian Valle walk and singles to Tyson Gillies and Jeff Hanzawa. There isn’t much solace, however, in being beaten by just one player when you end up picking up the L in a 5-1 defeat.
“I don’t really look at it like, ‘You know, it’s OK, just one guy beat me and the rest of the lineup didn’t do too much,'” Hall said. “I kind of look at the whole picture, like, ‘They got me today.’ So, yeah I’m glad I had success (against the rest of the order). I felt good today, I felt like I pitched pretty well. My changeup really worked well for me late in the game, I got some swings and misses. I think that was a big key, especially going through the lineup (late), I was able to keep them off-balance more. That and the curveball, I felt like I was really confident with it as the game went on. I did get stronger and had some quick innings and tried to get our team back in the game and get the momentum back to us instead of on their side.”
— Reading starter Jonathan Pettibone pretty much shoved it for the entire game. Best opposing pitching performance I’ve seen this season. He was a Melky Mesa two-out, ninth inning home run that bounced off the top of the wall and over away from having a complete game shutout. That blemish — which gives Mesa the EL lead in dingers, by the way — aside, he was quite good. He threw 108 pitches/66 strikes and allowed just 5 hits in 8 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out five.
“It was a good performance, no question about it,” Franklin said. “That kid had a quality start.”
— In case you happened to be at the game — which means you were six years old and screaming all day — or listening on the radio, you may be curious to know why Abe Almonte got called out on his bunt attempt in the fifth inning.
“Very seldom do you see that called,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin, who argued the call for a while before returning to the coaches box.
“What (home plate umpire Tom Honec) did tell me, in his defense, was that he did bang Gillies for the same thing, for being out of the box. We’re constantly saying he’s out of the box, but they never call it.”
— Trenton had not played under THREE hours in their past seven games. This game? Exactly two hours. And only Mesa’s two-out homer in the ninth kept it from being a very rare sub-two hour nine inning game, as it led to a pitching change and the subsequent delay. It had the feel of a getaway day, no question…but don’t mistake that for there not being quality at-bats, says Franklin.
“I don’t think we gave away a lot of at-bats,” he said. “I think the way that kid pitched today had a lot to do with it. He was throwing strikes. When they’re throwing strikes and not walking anybody, you better be up there ready to hit. That’s as much the reason for the two hours as anything.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com