— Saturday night’s 7-4 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats felt more like “roller coaster” than “baseball game” at times. Ready for the ride? Trenton was down 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth, scored four runs to take a 4-3 lead, gave up four runs in the sixth to go down 7-4 and had two runners in scoring position with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth with the heart of their order up.
But the freefall came to an abrupt end when Slade Heathcott struck out, Jose Pirela grounded out to third and Kyle Roller flew out with Jeff Farnham on third and Ramon Flores on second to end the rally before it even really started.
“We were in it,” said Thunder manager Tony Franklin after the game. “I walked in (the clubhouse) and told them you’ve got to keep playing. You keep grinding away at it, and sometimes it seems like you don’t get any breaks or things just aren’t going your way, but you can’t let the negative energy go to your head. You’ve got to keep battling.”
It was, to be sure, a battle for starting pitcher Nik Turley tonight. The Eastern League All-Star needed 56 pitches to get through his first two innings of work, and simply couldn’t command his pitches for the majority of his outing.
“I think all in all, he battled hard and he got through five innings,” Franklin said. “We were in the game when he came out, which was great. I thought he did an excellent job in minimizing damage. The first inning started off really bad, and it could have been a lot more than what it was…I’m sure he’d like to have been a lot sharper going out there.
Ultimately, the Thunder did put themselves in position to win with their four-run fourth. Heathcott, Pirela, Farnham and Reegie Corona all drove a man in to get the Thunder the lead, but Graha Stoneburner couldn’t hold onto it.
The usually solid reliever entered the game in the sixth and would face eight Fisher Cats batters. Three singles, a double and a hit batsman later, and the game felt like it had gotten out of hand.
“Rough inning,” offered Franklin. “I’m sure there’s some pitches he’d like to have back. I think all the damage came with two outs, and that’s when it really gets you; when you’re so close to getting out of the inning and then it’s just boom, boom, boom.”
— Although the deal isn’t done yet, it is expected that Hideki Matsui will come to Trenton on Monday to throw batting practice. As there are still details to work out, no specifics are available just yet, but he made a similar appearance in Staten Island earlier this season.
— Kevin Mahoney underwent ulnar nerve transposition surgery on his elbow several days ago. As I wrote earlier today, that will end his season.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com