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

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fisher Cats get the best of Thunder

TRENTON — Pat Venditte’s struggles in the early going came into play again last night, and the Thunder missed a chance for a sweep to open their second homestand.

The switch-pitching reliever allowed three runs in the eighth inning en route to a 5-3 loss to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats at Waterfront Park.

After a quick seventh, Venditte was called on again to keep Trenton’s deficit at just a run. That thought ended quickly when Fisher Cats shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria led off with a laser beam over the left-center field wall.

When Venditte finally exited, the score was 5-1, which became particularly demoralizing when Brad Suttle’s two-run single gave Trenton its second and third runs in the bottom of the eighth.

If this were a simple case of one bad outing for Venditte, it could be easily brushed aside. Instead, days like these have become the rule and not the exception.

In nine appearances, Venditte has shut out the opposition just three times. His ERA sits at a ghastly 6.92, and he’s been hit of a .345 average against.

“I’ve had a tough time getting all (my pitches) going on the same day,” Venditte said. “There’s no one thing going wrong right now. It’s just not working out.”

His effort pushed to the backburner another stellar turn for Shaeffer Hall, the left-hander who has stepped up and filled the ace role.

Once again yesterday, Hall was in cruise control, using his mix of offspeed pitches to stymie the Fisher Cats over six innings, with three strikeouts mixed in along the way.

He allowed two runs in those six innings — the fourth consecutive time he’s allowed two or fewer in a start. Both on this afternoon were the direct result of shoddy defense.

After Mike McDade doubled with one out in the fourth, designated hitter Ricardo Nanita lofted a ball high and deep to right field that Dan Brewer appeared to lose in the sun. The ball landed on the warning track several feet behind him, and McDade trotted home to tie the score at 1-1.

In the sixth, Moises Sierra’s hard ground ball went under the glove of shortstop Yadil Mujica. And although it was called a single, Mujica certainly had a decent chance to make the play.

McDade followed with a single and Craig Stansberry’s sac fly gave the Cats the lead.

Cody Johnson got Trenton’s offense started with a long home run to right-center field that eventually found a spot in the Delaware River. The bomb was Johnson’s second of the season and 97th of his minor league career, which is in its sixth season.

A month into the year, the Thunder have been inconsistent at best.

Rarely have they pitched, hit and defended well on the same afternoon.

Frankly, it’s a bit of a concern if the team hopes to defend its EL East crown — and manager Tony Franklin knows it.

“We’re inconsistent. We’re a very inconsistent team with a lot of talent and a chance to put some things together,” he said. “It’s imperative that we do that right now.”

NOTES: Nanita was removed in the sixth inning after fouling ball off his mouth. He left the field with Thunder trainer Tim Lentych holding his jaw with a towel. ... Corban Joseph picked up another hit, extending his hitting streak to 13 games and his on-base streak to 17 games. ... Yesterday was the 52nd birthday of Thunder clubhouse manager Tom “Tonto” Kackley.

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