Archive for August 13th, 2012

Game 121: Post-Game Notes

August 13, 2012

Vidal Nuno turned in his first truly below average outing for Trenton on Monday night, allowing three home runs en route to an 8-4 loss

The 2012 version of the Trenton Thunder are heading into uncharted waters.  And not in a good way.

Tonight’s 8-4 loss in Reading marked their sixth straight defeat, easily a season high.  After a 21-9 July boosted them to a healthy lead in the Eastern Division, they’ve now come back to Earth a bit and are 5 1/2 games ahead of both the Rock Cats and Phillies with 21 games remaining on the docket.

“I don’t think any of us really pay attention to how big our lead is,” said Thunder shortstop Addison Maruszak.

“We know we’re in first, and we knew that a week ago or two weeeks ago, we were in first by a lot.  We still want to do well individually, and when we do good individually, we win as a team.  But we’re not having too many players hot at one time.  It’s usually one per game that’s hot, like tonight it was (Luke) Murton.  Murton couldn’t get off base.  We need three people hot in one night, not just one.”

As for Monday night’s series-opening loss to the Phillies, Vidal Nuno turned in his first true clunker of the season.  Sure, his last few starts haven’t been fantastic — his ERA has gone up from a miniscule 0.89 after his June 25 start to a still-solid 2.57 following tonight’s — but by regular standards, he’s still done pretty well.  But, in his 16th start with Trenton, he finally allowed more than three earned runs for the first time, coughing up six total (four ER) thanks in large part to three home runs by Jake Fox, Leandro Castro and the red-hot Darin Ruf.

“I made a couple mistakes, and when you do that, they’re good hitters.  They’ll take advantage of it,” Nuno told me.

“(Reading) is aggressive, and they can sit back on pitches…I’ve got five days to work on my stuff and get ready for my next outing.”

The rest of the team has three days to turn it around in what is likely the biggest series this team has played this season to date.  Right now, they just need to beat someone and stop their somewhat unexpected skid.

“I can’t say we’ve been playing real bad, but we haven’t been playing great,” Maruszak said. 

“We’ve been playing about average.  We’ve been missing the real big innings.  We’ve had good opportunies.  Sometimes bad luck occurs, or it just doesn’t happen.  This is the first time this team has really failed like this during the season.  Hopefully, we can find a way to get it back tomorrow and get it back going.” 

But wins will be tough against a Reading team that features a solid lineup 1-through-9, perhaps the best starting rotation in the Eastern League 1-through-5 and a closer with an 0.29 ERA.

“I think they’ve been playing well, period,” said Maruszak of Reading.  “The last time we played them, they played real well.  Their staff did a good job pitching against us, their hitters did a real good job.  I mean, I saw the same thing today.  We know how it feels, we played really good for nine straight games like they’ve been doing.  They’re riding a good streak, we’re riding a bad one.”

Thunder manager Tony Franklin’s comments to his players after the game were more motivational than they were “swift kick in the ass,” but at some point that may be necessary…

“Generally, when you’re in a corner like we are, you’ve got to come out fighting,” Franklin said.

“I only know one way.  There’s no magic involved in any of this and what we have to do to turn it around.  We’ve got to put some hits together, we’ve got to put some well-pitched games together, we’ve got to play good defense…we just have to get back to the business of playing good baseball, which we’re not doing right now.  We’re trying hard and it’s not happening.  I just told our club that there’s a difference between being a little bit unlucky and not playing good baseball, and we’re a little bit of each right now.  Hopefully, the luck turns around a little bit, but we have to help the situation and play a little better.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 121: VIDEO

August 13, 2012

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Game 121: Pre-Game Notes

August 13, 2012

6:15 PM — Apologies for the very late post, have been running around like crazy for the past hour or so…

This is obviously a pretty big series.  Trenton is, as Tony Franklin put it, in a bit of a “downward spiral,” having lost their last five games.  They’re 5 1/2 games up on New Britain for the division lead and 6 games up on Reading…who obviously have a lot to play for not only the rest of the way, but in these four games.

“This is what this all about,” Franklin said.  “If you’re going to be involved in championship baseball, whether it be at this level or (elsewhere) you have to learn how to play in the moment.  And this is the moment.  I think they should think about it in those terms.”

For whatever it’s worth, it seems the players may be taking a lighter approach.

“I think we’re treating it just like it’s another four games,” said Thunder first baseman Luke Murton.  “We’re trying to stick with what we’ve done all year, go out prepared and play the best we can.  Hopefully we’ll come out on top.”

Murton couldn’t pinpoint what’s led to the five-game losing streak, saying that they’ve run into guys who are throwing the ball well.  But he also knows they need to turn it around fast, and this will be a difficult place to do it.

“We went through a stretch where it felt like we couldn’t lose,” he said.  “We were winning, winning, winning.  Now we’ve lost a couple in a row, so it’s time to see what this team is made of.  It’s time to get it up a notch.”

Added Franklin: “We need to play well, that’s for sure.  We’ve played well for so long, and all of a sudden we’re not.  It happens, it’s part of a season.  You have some losing streaks, and this is one.  Right at the tail end of the season is not the most ideal to kind of falter.  But this what we are, and we’re going to have to play well.  I think we’re OK, we’re battling.  We’re not giving away games.  We’re not having a few hits fall for us.”

***

Lineups are here…

Thunder lineup: A Almonte LF, Pirela 2B, Adams 3B, Z Almonte RF, Murton 1B, Maruszak SS, Mahoney DH, Garcia CF, Gil C, Nuno P

RPhils lineup: Gillies CF, Asche 3B, Ruf 1B, Fox DH, Joseph C, Castro RF, James LF, Abreu 2B, Hanzawa SS, Martin P

Pitching Matchups vs. Reading

August 13, 2012

Ethan Martin (pictured) faces Vidal Nuno on Monday to kickstart a crucial four-game series between Reading and Trenton.

All game times are 7:05 PM

Monday 8/13: TRE Vidal Nuno vs. REA Ethan Martin
Tuesday 8/14: TRE Mikey O’Brien vs. REA Adam Morgan
Wednesday 8/15: TRE Shaeffer Hall vs. REA Julio Rodriguez
Thursday 8/16: TRE Brett Marshall vs. REA Brody Colvin

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com