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Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Rough third inning costs Brackman, Thunder

BOWIE, Md. – For two innings last night, Andrew Brackman was as good as advertised. He flashed a dazzling array of high-octane fastballs and late-breaking curveballs that left Bowie’s hitters in knots.

Then came the third inning, and the Thunder’s right-hander, massive in both size and expectations, came unraveled.

Brackman allowed four runs on three hits -- with back-to-back walks and a hit batsman thrown in – in the frame, and Trenton never recovered, eventually falling 6-2 to the Baysox at Prince George’s Stadium.

After displaying a heater that sat comfortably in the mid-90s and touched 99 on multiple occasions, Brackman started off the third with a curveball that slipped and caught catcher Bowie catcher Caleb Joseph square in the back.

The problem, he believes, at least last night, was between his ears, not in his arm.

“I got a little bit out of control, maybe, mentally,” Brackman said. “I just got out of myself a little bit and didn’t control it.”

Interim manager Jody Reed agrees that the cause of Brackman’s early Double-A struggles so far has to do in large part with his mental approach.

“If he can stay in the frame of mind the first couple of innings, that’s the guy you’re looking for,” Reed said. “That’s how a major league pitcher has to be. He just has to be a bulldog out there. If a couple of things happen out there, you have to be able to get that ball back and get in the same frame of mind and get right back after it.”

Brackman recovered and fanned the next man, Danny Figueroa, but then surrendered a seeing-eye single through the middle to ninth hitter Carlos Rojas. Leadoff man Greg Miclat, a smallish shortstop, then cashed in both runners on a ringing double just inside the third-base line.

Joe Mahoney, who was a perfect 3-for-3 on Friday in his Double-A debut, drove home the inning’s final run on a line drive to left that gave his team an early four-run edge.

Overall, Brackman gave up five runs – four earned – on five hits and three walks. He struck out an impressive eight hitters as well, but ultimately took his fourth loss in as many starts.

The most troubling part of that line is the three free passes. With Tampa this season, Brackman walked nine over 60 innings. In just 16 frames with Trenton, he’s already at seven.

An advanced plate approach from upper-level hitters may have something to do with that uptick.

“I feel like hitters have an approach here instead of down in the lower levels,” Brackman said. “They’re not going to swing at some of the stuff they might swing at (otherwise).”

Trenton got something going in the fifth when left fielder Jack Rye led off with a long home run to left field, which Rene Rivera followed with a ground-rule double. Edwar Gonzalez’s two-bagger two hitters later brought Rivera home.

Both Trenton runs came off of starter Rick Zagone, who baffled the Thunder otherwise.

Rehabbing Orioles reliever silenced the Thunder in the seventh, and Jose Diaz and Bob McCrory followed suit in the eighth and ninth.

NOTES: Austin Romine and Hector Noesi, who flew to California for the XM Futures Game yesterday morning, were placed in the Temporarily Inactive List. Justin Christian was added to the roster. … The Eastern League announced the lineups yesterday for its Home Run Derby, to be held before the All-Star Game, on July 14. Representing the Eastern Division will be Reading’s Matthew Rizzotti and Tagg Bozied, New Hampshire’s Eric Thames and Binghamton’s Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Harrisburg’s Michael Martinez and Chris Marrero, as well as Altoona catcher Hector Gimenez and Richmond’s Thomas Neal will go to bat for the Western Division.

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