— That wasn’t pretty. Trenton lost to New Hampshire, 8-3, in front of an announced crowd of 3,630. In reality, the crowd was way smaller and the margin of defeat felt way bigger.
“We didn’t help ourselves much tonight,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin.
Nope. Trenton left 14 men on base (only Kyle Roller didn’t have an LOB when the night was over) and went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.
“We didn’t play well, and when you don’t play well, it’s going to be very glaring out on the field. We made some mistakes, and it hurt us badly. We’ve got to be much better than what we were tonight.”
Franklin addressed the team after the game, and suggested that his team wasn’t focused.
“We made mistakes that we hadn’t been making, or we made mistakes that we had been making earlier in the season, and we need to be past that,” he said. “I don’t care what the score is, you have to continue to compete and continue to believe that we were going to win the ballgame. We were a couple of hits and a big home run away from tying or winning the game…we were in the game until the last out, that’s the way I felt. I hope that they felt the same way.”
— After Matt Daley came in and made his Thunder debut, Francisco Rondon came in and made a mess. In his first outing after getting sent back to the bullpen, he simply didn’t have it. He faced eight batters and allowed three runs on three hits and three walks. Rondon, who had not pitched in a while, was not sharp. Rust was not an acceptable excuse, however.
“I don’t care if you’re off 100 days, if you come back and you’re on the mound or you’re on the field, I expect you to be good,” Franklin said. “Having a poor outing or not having pitched or played for a while, that’s not an excuse to fail. It’s easy to use it as a crutch, but that’s not what we’re after here.”
— Zach Nuding had an OK outing tonight. Six innings, five hits, four runs, three earned…but just one walk and eight strikeouts. The home run off the bat of Sean Ochinko stands out, however. It was a no-doubter to left field, and the two-run blast got out of the yard in quite a hurry.
“After the walk, we were trying to go sinker in to try to induce a double play and I just left a two-seamer over the middle of the plate,” Nuding said. “He just tookm advantage of a not commanded pitch, and he go a dinger off of it.”
But, all in all, Nuding really wasn’t too bad. He fell to 1-4 on the season, but maintains a solid 2.63 ERA and has probably been Trenton’s most consistent starter all year.
“I thought Nuding pitched pretty doggone good, I really did,” Franklin said.
“Yeah, he gave up some hits, but the kid threw the ball well. When he got up in the zone is when he got hit. I thought he had a decent outing despite the fact he got hit around a little bit. I saw good arm strength, I saw a good breaking ball, the times when he command the strike zone, he was very, very good. He was one of our bright spots tonight.”
— Before the game, I managed to catch up with Thunder catcher Kyle Higashioka, who will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He injured his right throwing elbow on a throw from behind home plate on April 30 against New Hampshire, and was in the clubhouse today with a large, black splint-like contraption attached to his freshly operated on arm.
“It was pretty much just that one throw in the first inning of the game,” Higashioka said. “I tried to stay in there and see if it would go away, but it obviously didn’t and I had to come out. I got an MRI and they told me I had to have surgery.”
Higashioka, 23, had an idea it was pretty serious at the time, but given that he was getting his first extended look at Double-A and was playing well (.320/1/5 in 7 games), he says was hesitant in taking himself out of the game.
“But there’s not really much I could do,” he said.
However, given all the pitchers he’s caught who’ve undergone the procedure, he’s confident he’ll be able to come back stronger than he was before.
“So far, almost everybody I see that gets this done is back healthy or even better than they were before, so it’s reassuring,” he said.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com