— Remember when the Thunder were alternating good games with bad ones? Well, that seems to have stopped. Trenton won again on Monday night, topping the Akron Aeros to the tune of a 5-3 victory in the first rematch of their 2012 Eastern League Championship Series matchup.
The Thunder have the best record in the league (8-3) — it is, of course, just 11 games into the season — but it seems like there’s finally some consistency with Tony Franklin’s ballclub.
“We’re playing so well. The only reason we were losing games is we were playing bad baseball,” he said.
“We’re playing pretty good right now. When you do that, you don’t hurt yourself and you’ve got a chance to win a lot of games. And if you don’t, you’re right in them. That’s the only thing, there’s nothing scientific about it. You make your plays, you get your hits, you make good pitches and you’re in the ballgame.”
Nik Turley was one of the starters for the Thunder during that playoff run, and he got the ball again tonight. His outing was very much so up and down all night: 7 K’s, but they came in just four innings of work and were mixed in with four hits and three walks (three runs, two earned).
“We’ve talked about it earlier, Nik needs to get off to a better start,” Franklin said. “Once he settles down and he starts to get his rhythm, he ain’t bad. Matter of fact, he’s pretty doggone good. You can see his velocity pick up and his breaking ball gets a little more bite to it. But so far, he’s been getting off to some pretty slow starts.”
Turley, to his credit, wasn’t pleased with an outing that led him to come out of the game with 90 pitches thrown but just four frames to show for it.
“I just need to take the good and build off of that,” Turley said. “I didn’t make some pitches that I wanted to…I’m just a little disappointed. I felt like I should have been able to go a little deeper in the game for my team. I’m just excited to get the ball for my next outing and just go from there.”
Without question, Turley had fantastic stuff tonight, it was simply a matter of harnessing it. His fastball was working between 91-92 MPH, and his curveball showed lots of movement while sitting in the mid-70-‘s. But he had trouble finding the strike zone at times, and it was frustrating for Turley at times.
“You’ve just got to remember that it’s early in the season, and you’re still figuring little things out,” he said.
“I’ve got to build from tonight. I felt like there were a lot of good things that happened, and I’ve just got to go from there…the walks, you never want to have that many three-ball counts and walk that many guys, especially when my stuff was good tonight.”
— Walter Ibarra was removed from the game in favor of Casey Stevenson to start the top of the eighth inning after striking out in the bottom of the seventh. When asked about what happened, Franklin offered that Ibarra had “a little bit of an injury” after a lengthy pause, saying he wasn’t sure what it was and how extensive it was.
That was, surprisingly, more information than Ibarra provided after the game when approached.
“I’m good,” Ibarra said. “You can talk to the trainer.”
We are, of course, not allowed to do this. Franklin said that he saw Ibarra wince after an “ugly swing” on the strikeout. I’ll try to have more info tomorrow.
— Neil Medchill. Dingers. A perfect combo. Medchill continued his hot start with a huge home run to right field in the second inning, giving him his team-leading third longball of the season. In the second inning, with hard-throwing Danny Salazar cruising, Medchill went up and clobbered a long blast well over everything in right field.
“He looked like a caveman with a club hitting that home run,” quipped Franklin.
There was a little more to it than that, says Medchill.
“The guy’s got really good stuff, we knew he did coming in,” he said. “We had a really good report from the guys that faced him last year, and I knew he likes his fastball, because he runs it up to 95-96. The first pitch was a fastball away, kind of up. Then he shook, and I was still looking fastball, and he left it up. I knew I got that one, those are always fun.”
You hear pretty often that when an athlete is in the zone, as Medchill and his .375 batting average appear to be, that the game slows down, the ball seems bigger, and so on. Partially true, he says.
“I think I’m obviously seeing better than I am in years past,” Medchill said. “The last couple games of the last series, my timing felt off a little bit, so I worked hard with (Justin Turner) today trying to get my timing back and seeing the ball a little bit better.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com