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

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Rivera's walk-off single gives Thunder a huge win

TRENTON — On a night when they had Lance Berkman in the lineup, another player with major league experience gave the Thunder a huge win.

Rene Rivera’s single through the middle in the tenth inning gave Trenton a 4-3 win and cut its magic number to clinch the Eastern League East to six games with seven left to play. With New Hampshire’s win, the Thunder’s lead in the division remains at a game and a half.

Rivera, a former Mariners catcher who also homered, used a little bit of the wit he’s accrued from being behind the plate so many years to get into the pitcher’s head in a key situation.

“Bases loaded, no outs, I know he’s going to try to get me to roll over something,” Rivera explained. “He’s going to throw nothing inside, he’s going to stay away. He threw a first-pitch slider, and the second pitch I swung.”

Closer Ryan Pope coughed up the lead in the ninth – his third blown save in 19 chances – but, with a little help from second baseman Corban Joseph, pitched out of trouble in the top of the tenth.

With the go-ahead run at third and infield playing in, Lonnie Chisenhall hit a soft line drive up the middle that seemed destined for center field. Joseph raced to right and snared the ball with a full-extension dive, saving the game for the moment.

“It was just enough up the middle that I guess I was the only one who had a really good shot at it,” Joseph said. “I saw Nunez take the route that, if I missed it, he was right there to get it.”

The Thunder’s rally in the bottom half was set up by Dan Brewer leadoff single, followed by a pair of fortuitous sacrifice bunts from Justin Snyder and Joseph that weren’t fielded cleanly. Both men reached, and the stage was set for Rivera.

Early in the game, it was once again time for Adam Warren to shine.

As he did in his last start, Warren let up a run in the first before settling done in a major way over the remainder, a strong effort in the Thunder’s only win over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

From there, Warren went to work. Over the next 4 2/3 innings, the right-hander blanked the Aeros on five hits and fanned a half dozen.

Combined with his previous two outings, Warren has lasted 18 2/3 frames, allowed two earned runs on 12 hits and two walks, and has fanned an astonishing 27 hitters.

If everybody is kept on regular rest, newcomer Dellin Betances would be the man to start Game 1 against the Fisher Cats on Sept. 8. Were the playoff rotation set solely on merit, however, Warren would almost certainly be the one getting the ball.

“I would think that he’s a pretty good candidate to start (Game 1),” manager Tony Franklin said. “I’d feel very comfortable with him.”

NOTES: After missing the last two games in Harrisburg, Dan Brewer was back in the lineup last night. … Former Thunder manager and current Mariners scout Billy Masse was in the stands. … Berkman was 2-for-5 with two singles but struck out to send the game to extra innings. … Justin Christian led off the game with a home run, his second in as many nights.

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