Final score: Bowie 12, Trenton 6
Synopsis: Dellin Betances was awful again, and, aside from Luke Murton's two bombs, so was the rest of the team. About the only thing that went right for Trenton all night was that the rain held off until just after the game ended.
Aftermath: That was second angriest I've ever seen Tony Franklin. You know that moment you make your parents so mad that they can't even yell at you? That's where Franklin was after this one.
He said he was "infuriated" with the way his team played, but he said it so flatly that it was almost disturbing. He didn't chew out his team, for fear he might say something he regretted. When a manager is so upset he can't even read his team the riot act, that's rage, folks.
How do you solve a problem like Betances: The young man's downfall this season has been as sharp as it was surprising. In the majors at season's end in 2011, Betances is beyond lost this year. His delivery is in tatters and, although he's not wont to admit it, his confidence can't be in good shape either.
So what do you do? As of now, he's still scheduled to take his next turn in the rotation, which will come on Wednesday against Altoona's Gerrit Cole.
"We send him out there every fifth day and let him pitch," Franklin said. "That's what they're supposed to do. That's what we do. Because you don't get any better unless you keep going back out there. You've got to go out there. I don't care well you're pitching or how poor you're pitching, you've got to back out there."
He certainly couldn't have been helped by being scratched -- then unscratched -- because of changing weather patterns. If the rain had come around game time as originally forecasted, Rondon would have started the game instead and Betances would have come in to the game after the delay. When they got word that the rain would hold off until much later, they plugged Betances back in. For a kid who's been through a lot this year, it would have been easy try to pin his poor start on the uncertainty. He didn't take that route.
"There's no excuses, man. I'm just not pitching well, bottom line," he said, before demurring about whether his problems continue to be between his ears. "Right now, I think things aren't going well for me. It's been tough this year. It's been a battle for me. I'm just trying to see if I finish these next couple of starts strong. I've just got to try to stay positive. I feel like I've had good ones, but at the same time I've allowed too many baserunners, and that's been affecting me."
Spiraling again: Beyond Betances, however, there were other issues. Jose Gil committed two passed balls and looked about as slow as I've ever seen a non-injured runner going down the line to first. Walter Ibarra botched a grounder. Rondon and Craig Heyer -- the latter thrown out there on consecutive nights for the first time this season -- couldn't get outs. The fifth through ninth spots in the order were 2 for 18 with a pair of singles.
"It infuriates me," Franklin said. "It totally infuriates me, because I thought it was a very lackluster performance, a very uninspired performance on our part. There's no sense in it. We're professional athletes. These guys are two steps from the big leagues. They've got to have better performances than that when we play. We were outpitched, we were outplayed, we were outhustled. We were just outplayed in every facet of the game. It was very uninspired tonight, and I'm very disappointed."
He wasn't the only one. Addison Maruszak, sitting alone at his locker in a near-silent clubhouse, said he and his teammates feel the same way as their skipper, especially after coming off a pair of much-needed wins in Reading.
"Frustrated. I think that's the best word you could use -- frustrated," he said. "It is what it is. All you've got to do is do your part individually, and we have some guys doing it and some guys aren't, but that's just the name of the game as a team. For instance, if we win I might not do a thing to help the team. We need more guys to do good and less guys to do bad at one point in time."
Fighting the calendar: It doesn't get any easier from here. The rest of the way, Trenton has two more games with Bowie, then three with Altoona, four with Akron and four more with New Britain before closing the season with four games at Binghamton. Every team except the B-Mets and Curve -- and they'll throw Jameson Taillon and Cole at the Thunder on Tuesday and Wednesday -- has a record better than .500.
By moving back to even against Bowie for the year, Trenton doesn't have a winning record against any of the five best teams in the league. They are six games above Reading in the race for the playoffs, but they're going to have to hold on for dear life over the last 17 games.
Picks to click:
Mike Ashmore covered for me today. He wrote this sidebar
about the team's players-only meeting after Tuesday's loss in Reading and a game story, which I'll link later, about tonight's maelstrom.