Thunder win game, lose Brandon Laird
Cleanup hitter Brandon Laird, who provided a large of portion of the team’s offense from April until June, fouled a ball off of his left ankle in the sixth inning. Upon contact, Laird tried to walk it off, but eventually succumbed to the pain and collapsed near the left-handed batter’s box.
Eventually, trainer Tim Lentych and coach Vic Valencia had to assist Laird from the field to the dugout, where he stayed for a time before being escorted to the clubhouse by Lentych.
The sheer fact that Laird left the game was proof enough to his teammates that something was seriously wrong with their third baseman.
“For him to come out of the game, it’s probably got to be pretty, pretty bad,” Justin Snyder said.
Neither Laird nor Lentych were in the clubhouse afterward, yet another probable indicator of the injury’s severity. He did ride the bus back to Trenton with the team, however he was scratched from the All-Star Game.
Even with Laird gone, there still was business at hand. When he left, the game was tied at 3-3, and that’s where it stayed until the ninth, when the Thunder’s bats exploded in a big way.
Marcos Vechionacci and Jack Rye opened the frame with consecutive walks off of Bob McCrory, who had so effortlessly dispatched with the Thunder a night earlier. Rene Rivera followed with a sacrifice bunt attempt so fundamentally perfect that even the slow-footed catcher was able to easily leg it into an infield single.
That set things up for Snyder, who took the patient approach, even after McCrory was removed after missing the strike zone on the first offering.
“I was going to pretty much take until I got strike, and he threw me a ball and they took him out,” Snyder said. “The guy coming in (Pedro Beato) I had faced prior, so I was pretty much looking for a first-pitch fastball, or anything I could drive when I got 3-1.”
He never got anything to hit, and was happy enough to draw a walk that forced home Rye with the go-ahead run.
Edwar Gonzalez followed with a bases-clearing triple upped the Thunder’s lead to 7-3. A single from Cusick — who replaced Laird in the lineup — and a double from Vechionacci put three more scores on the board and pushed Trenton into double digits for the first time since June 24 against Erie.
Even though they closed the road trip at just 2-6, the win yesterday gave the team a much-needed morale boost before the second half starts on Thursday with a four-game set against the Reading Phillies.
“It was a tough road trip,” Gonzalez said. “We struggled a little bit, but we still kept our positive attitude. … You want to go home for a couple of days, but you want to go home winning the last game.”
(Photo of Laird and Tim Lentych courtesy of Andreea Rawlings)