— Ask Thunder manager Tony Franklin about the playoffs, and he stares a hole through you as the word leaves your mouth. Won’t talk about it, he says. Too superstitious, he says. So, perhaps there was a bit of irony that the day that Trenton put playoff tickets on sale, the Thunder got crushed by their possible first round opponent.
In his first Double-A start, Reading Phillies starter Adam Morgan was outstanding, allowing only one hit through seven shutout innings in a 4-1 win over the Thunder in front of a packed house on Thursday night.
Morgan was dominant, and needed just 90 pitches to get through his outing, which was a Zoilo Almonte second inning leadoff double away from potentially being something a little more special.
“He was throwing strikes to both sides of the plate. He didn’t leave anything in the middle. He was tremendous,” said Reading catcher Tommy Joseph.
“It makes my job easier when the pitcher can throw strikes and get ahead. I can’t say enough about him. It was fun to catch him.”
It was fun to watch him as well. Morgan’s fastball sat around 92 miles per hour, but he was impressive with his changeup and had Thunder batters off-balance all night. All Franklin could really do, he said, was tip his cap.
“That kid was fantastic,” Franklin said. “On nights like tonight, you just tip your hat. He was pretty tough. He had a nice changeup. When a guy’s got great motion on all of his pitches and the release point is about the same, it’s kind of difficult. Everything was working for him.”
Morgan knows they won’t all be like this.
“I didn’t know what to expect that first time,” he said. “All the guys in the outfield and the bullpen, I was just trying to pick their brains a little bit and wanted to know what (this level) was all about. They all said to just pitch to contact and don’t try to do anything too fine. They’re hitters, they’ll get themselves out.”
Morgan had only faced Murphy and Segedin (both of whom are struggling at the plate mightily in their Double-A debuts…Murphy is batting .205 while Segedin is at just .189) before while at Clearwater. Curiously, after skipping Low-A Lakewood, the 21-year-old righty posted a 4-10 record with High-A Clearwater despite posting a 3.29 ERA. Perhaps more bizarre was that Clearwater was seven games over .500 as of this evening. So how exactly does one manage that?
“I don’t know, you tell me,” said Morgan through a laugh.
“I just go out there now and try to give my team a chance to win. That’s basically the mindset, whatever happens, happens.”
— Kelvin Perez was called up to Triple-A Empire State/Scranton/Traveling Circus after the game. After a very rough 2011, the 26-year-old righty reliever turned his career around this season. He posted a 1.14 ERA in 41 games with the Thunder, holding the Eastern League to a .192 average against. He struck out 70 batters in 71 1/3 innings, but also issued 35 walks.
— Cody Johnson is out for the season, as first reported by Josh Norris. Originally believed to be returning within the next two weeks, Johnson is expected to miss the remainder of the season after an MRI revealed more issues with his hamstring.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com