Betances makes early runs stand up
TRENTON — After a 16-inning game and a six-and-a-half hour bus ride, you could excuse the Thunder if they were a little fatigued.
But that’s the nature of the business, and you have to come out and play the next day. The Thunder weren’t exactly sharp in their series opener against Portland last night, but they took advantage of some sloppy Sea Dog defense for a 3-1 win.
Trenton continues to remain hot in May, improving to 12-6 this month and 22-18 overall.
“When you get opportunities to score runs without hits, that’s a big deal,” said manager Tony Franklin. “The hits that we did get were maximized by their mistakes. You can’t afford to do it.”
Dellin Betances picked up the win to improve to 3-1 on the year. He allowed one run, striking out five and walking four in five innings of work.
“I thought his first nine hitters were really good,” said pitching coach Tommy Phelps. “The second nine hitters he was a little more inconsistent. When he had two strikes or runners in scoring position it looked like he tried to do a little too much at times.”
Franklin said they won’t look to really extend Betances until July and for right now the next step is for him to start working deeper into games on a limited pitch count.
“It’s a steady progression,” Franklin said. “You have to kind of watch his innings. This isn’t where he wants to be or where we want him to be. We want him to pitch in the Major Leagues, and when he gets there we want him to be healthy enough to stay there and pitch well.”
Wilkins Arias and Josh Schmidt combined to shut down Portland (12-25) over the remaining four innings.
Schmidt bounced back from consecutive losses to pick up his second save of the season with scoreless relief innings. It also helped a taxed bullpen that worked 11 innings in the marathon game at Erie.
“Everybody is going to have some bad outings,” Phelps said of Schmidt. “He’s been pitcher of the year here the last two years so it’s nice to have him at the back end when some guys need some rest. He can finish the game for us, and he did a good job.”
The Thunder jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. They loaded the bases with no outs but it looked like Portland starter Alex Wilson was going to get out it after striking out Brad Suttle and Cody Johnson, but second baseman Oscar Tejeda allowed a soft Melky Mesa grounder to roll between his legs.
Trenton added a third run in the second when Addison Maruszak scored on a wild pitch by Wilson.
Wilson fell to 4-3 but settled down after the first two innings, retiring the final 13 batters he faced.
Corban Joseph tripled with two outs in the second and the Thunder didn’t have another baserunner until Joseph walked in the eighth.
Luckily, it didn’t matter.