— Perhaps in a year or two, this will be the game that’s remembered as the one in which Mark Montgomery made his Double-A debut. For the rest of the players in the clubhouse, however…this was a tough 8-3 loss to the Reading Phillies that got out of hand late.
Let’s start with the positives first. Montgomery was absolutely as advertised. And he was advertised as being quite nasty. He struck out the first two batters he faced — flashing his trademark slider to whiff Jiwan James — and was one pitch away from striking out the side. His fastball sat around 91-92 MPH, and he seemed as confident in this outing as he would anywhere else.
“I wanted to establish (the slider) for a strike early so I knew I could get them to chase it. All in all, I felt pretty good,” Montgomery told me after the game.
“These are hitters are better (at this level), they’re smart and they know the zone. I need to work on getting ahead and throwing strikes early.”
— Aside from one pitch, Brett Marshall’s outing could be considered a positive as well. But, for all intents and purposes, Cody Asche ruined his evening just two batters into the game, sending a blast deep into the night over the right field fence.
“The first inning, I felt like my two-seam wasn’t working, so I was just throwing straight four-seamers,” Marshall said.
“He caught up on a 2-1 four-seamer right down the middle and hit it pretty far. You’re going to have days like those where both pitchers are going inning for inning…I went back out there for the second inning and found my rhythm and my tempo again and I think I was good from there.”
Marshall, who still leads the Eastern League in wins with ten, fell to 10-4 on the season but put together a strong effort overall. He allowed just those two runs in seven innings, allowing one walk and five hits while striking out seven.
— Things did not go as well for Graham Stoneburner in the eighth, but it certainly wasn’t all of his doing.
Whether it be a dropped routine fly ball by left fielder Jose Pirela, catcher J.R. Murphy’s pickoff attempt at third base hitting the runner or a lengthy home run by Sebastian Valle, Reading’s final offensive display put an ugly stamp on what had been a well-played game until then.
“We missed some plays, that was just a bad inning,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin. “That was probably one of the worst ones we had all year.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com