Betances' big day leads Thunder over Reading
TRENTON -- Thunder pitcher Dellin Betances didn’t think he pitched particularly well last night. His manager, Tony Franklin, didn’t think so either.
Try explaining that to the Reading Phillies.
The Eastern League’s strongest franchise was brought to its knees by Betances last night. The six-foot-eight right-hander limited the Phillies to just one hit over the first five innings and paved the way for the Thunder to come away with a 2-0 victory.
“He didn’t have great control tonight,” Franklin observed. “He wasn’t very sharp but he made some pitches when he needed to. That’s the mark of a good pitcher.”
Betances’ lack of control was evident early when he walked two of the first three batters he faced. He then fanned Cody Overbeck, the league’s leading home run hitter, and Carlos Rivero to end the threat. Those two whiffs touched off a streak of nine straight batters retired -- seven of them on strikeouts.
Overbeck reached him for the one hit he allowed -- a liner that fell one bounce in front of left fielder Austin Krum -- with one out in the fourth. Overbeck was caught stealing by catcher Jose Gil, before Betances again became wild, walking two hitters in a row. The inning ended when second baseman Corban Joseph snared a liner off the bat of Michael Spidale.
Betances worked a perfect fifth (although two of the outs were line drives) before giving way to the bullpen.
“It was one of those days,” Betances said. “I was flying open. That’s why I had a couple of walks early and a couple of walks later.”
The Brooklyn-born hurler said he considered his fastball his best pitch even though he logged at least three of his strikeouts with a sharp, biting curve.
The decision to limit his outing to a maximum of five innings was made before the game started. When he left he had thrown 76 pitches, with only 41 of them strikes.
Cory Arbiso and Josh Schmidt followed with a pair of two-inning stints, with Schmidt picking up his first save of the season.
Trenton’s bats weren’t exactly on fire, but they didn’t have to be.
Joseph, leading off the third, picked up Trenton’s first hit. He moved to second on an infield single by Addison Maruszak and came around on fly balls by Ray Kruml and Krum.
An inning later Gil smoked a one-out double off the right field wall. He moved to third on an infield grounder and scored Trenton’s second run on Melky Mesa’s single to right -- a flair off the end of the bat that happened to drop in.
With the luxury of the victory, Franklin was in the enviable position of being able to contemplate what-if.
What if Betances ever refines his raw talent?
“He’s got such good stuff,” the manager wowed. “When he’s in the strike zone with command he can be fantastic.”
The Reading Phillies probably don’t want to be around the day that happens.