— Rarely do I get as specific as focusing on what one player did in one inning of one game. But Cody Johnson’s sixth played a big part in turning last night’s game around for the Trenton Thunder.
In the top half of the inning, he threw a runner out at the plate from left field. In the bottom half, he hit a two-run home run that got out of the ballpark in a hurry. As has been the case so many times this season, Johnson was the story at Waterfront Park. And it started with the sixth.
“I think I’m happier with throwing the guy out than the home run,” said Johnson through a laugh. “I don’t do that a lot. I was pleased with that. I came up with a wet ball, and just chucked it and prayed for the best. I got lucky it was their catcher running. I was able to one-hop it into to Pony (Jose Gil), and he was able to put the tag on him and get us out of the inning.”
At the time, Trenton was down, 3-0. After an Addison Maruszak solo homer (his first) and Johnson’s shot (his league-leading 12th) and this was a whole new ballgame.
— Johnson shined in the ninth as well, when his hard leadoff double down the right field line started the eventual game-winning rally. But it was Luke Murton who was the hero. With Johnson out for pinch-runner Jose Pirela and Zoilo Almonte having been intentionally walked, Akron brought in reliever Bryan Price to face Murton.
Price got behind Murton, 2-0, and the big first baseman did the rest.
“I was really just hoping to get a good pitch I could drive,” Murton said.
“Once I got in a positive count, I felt pretty good about it. I figured (Kevin) Mahoney has been swinging the bat great behind me, and I figured he was going to come right after me. He threw me a fastball right over the plate, and I was able to put it into center field.”
— Before the game, at least, the story was Adam Miller. Miller, who has more or less been through hell and back, was the Cleveland Indians top prospect for four consecutive seasons without ever reaching the big leagues due to three surgeries on his right middle finger.
But Miller, who was making his Thunder home debut, looked like his old self at times yesterday, flashing a 95 MPH fastball and some of the stuff that got him so highly considered in the first place.
“My arm has felt good all the time,” Miller told me. “And I feel like there’s more power coming. The more I throw, I feel like the better it’ll get.”
And so too, it seems the Thunder are getting better with each game they play. A pieced together roster devoid of what people consider to be top prospects, they continue to win in spite of injuries and doubters. But for last night, Miller was just happy that offense was able to take him off the hook after allowing three runs on six hits in 4 2/3.
“The guys picked me up,” he said. “We struggled a little bit early, it seemed like. I couldn’t really tell what (Aeros starter Giovanni Soto) was throwing, but it looked like he had us off-balance a little bit. But late in the game, we got to him. That’s all that matters, that we found a way to win in the end.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com