— There was a point in time in which that was a good baseball game. And then, in the bottom of the seventh inning, it wasn’t. Sure, Thunder manager Tony Franklin isn’t going to complain about his team coming out on top in their 5-1 win over the Reading Phillies on Saturday night, but there were some tough moments to watch that ultimately led to Trenton’s victory.
Whether it be Kelly Dugan turning Casey Stevenson’s single to right into a two-run error, a subsequent botched play by reliever Jay Johnson that led to another run or Tyler Knigge’s inevitable wild pitch that plated the last of their four tallies in the seventh, there was some bad baseball going on at Arm & Hammer Park. Just not from the guys wearing white.
“I’d like it like this every night,” Franklin said. “We talked about this last night, that this is the way we’d like it to look every night and then we come back and put another pretty good one together. If we can do that, we’re going to be in a lot of games and have a chance to win a lot of them.”
— It wasn’t so much that the Thunder put together a good performance as it is that they pieced it together, specifically with the pitching. Starter Nik Turley was limited to three innings so that he could pitch in the Eastern League All-Star Game, meaning that Trenton would be forced to rely on their bullpen to get them through six innings (or more) for a chance at a win. And they did just that.
Francisco Rondon shut Reading down for four innings, and via Josh Norris, his stats since getting DFA’d are as follows: 18 IP, 7 H, R, ER, 8 BB, 23 SO. Danny Burawa spun the final two frames, and allowed one run, but the focus for many after the game was the remarkable turnaround for Rondon, who seemed like a lost cause earlier in the season when he was being used as a starter.
“The guy has got a heck of arm,” Franklin said.
“Rondon’s a great pitcher,” offered Turley.
“He’s been great since he’s come back,” said pitching coach Tommy Phelps.
Analysis, you guys.
But, in all seriousness, the once-heavily-maligned southpaw has absolutely shoved since getting removed from the 40-man roster. Part of that, says Phelps, is the change in role; for what it’s worth, he was only starting to get more innings in an attempt to further his development. But could another part of it be that getting DFA’d simply lit a fire under his ass?
“I think so,” said Phelps. “I think any time nobody picks you up and your team takes you off the roster, especially here you get a lot of roster moves because they need someone in the big leagues now with all the injuries this year and they didn’t have the luxury of keeping him on there. But we’re thankful we got him back and nobody picked him up.”
That, of course, raises an obvious question. How did nobody take a chance on him?
“I was (surprised),” Phelps said. “He’s a lefthander who throws mid-90’s with a good slider and a good changeup. No doubt (I was surprised).”
— Francisco Arcia was removed from the game in the eighth inning for pinch-hitter Jeff Farnham. Franklin revealed after the game that Arcia was experiencing swelling in his thumb after being caught by a foul tip behind the plate, and that he wasn’t sure what his status was going forward. What he was sure of was that Nick McCoy wasn’t cleared to play yet, so if the Thunder do need another catcher, it won’t be him.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com