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

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Postgame Notes - Pinedamania

Final score: Trenton 4, Erie 0

Synopsis: With Spiderman in the house, Michael Pineda played the role of superhero for the Thunder. He provided a scuffling team with six shutout innings, and in the process got himself one step closer to putting on the pinstripes for the first time. Tyler Austin provided an RBI double, and Andrew Clark added two solo homers to help the cause. Carmen Angelini also hit a longball. 

What went right: Pineda's outing of course. In his fourth rehab start on his way back from surgery to repair a torn labrum, the right-hander lasted six innings, allowed two hits and two walks and fanned four against the Erie SeaWolves. He was in complete command all game long, and his fastball sat between 91-93 for the first three innings, then between 94-95 for the next two, then back to 91-93 for the final frame. He threw 53 of his 78 pitches for strikes. 

Moreover, he complemented his heater with a mid-80s slider and a changeup that drew great reviews from farm boss Mark Newman, who was in the stands to watch his charge continue his ascent toward the Bronx. 

"I thought he was really good," Newman said. "I think I've seen every one of his rehab starts. If not, I've only missed one, and this was the best. The best command of the strike zone, the best secondary pitches, the most consistent delivery. I thought he was good. He's not there yet, but it's a step in the right direction. He's getting closer to where I know he wants to be and we want him to be. 

"His change-up has improved immensely. He threw some really good change-ups. If he can take that change-up and integrate in to his pitch usage on a regular basis, it might make him a better pitcher at the big-league level and he'll take something out of the rehab process. He'll take a better change-up. That would be a nice plus out of all this difficulty he's been through." 

During his press conference, which you can see below, Pineda indicated (albeit softly) that he thinks he'll pitch with the Thunder again in five days, when they'll be in Binghamton. Newman said that decision hasn't been made yet. C'est la vie. We'll play the waiting game once more. 

For his part, Thunder manager Tony Franklin was also quite pleased with the effort he got from Pineda, especially coming after two horrifically played games that the Thunder lost by a combined score of 
22-4 against Portland and Erie. 

"Quite impressive," he said. "I just walked in (to the clubhouse) and said 'That's the way it's supposed to be every night. It just seems like we're going to have a lot of highs and we're going to have a lot of lows. We need to kind of close the gap on that and have a few more highs than lows. Hopefully we can take this into tomorrow and play a very good game." 

Catcher Francisco Arcia, who didn't get shaken off once by Pineda, also was pleased by what he saw from his batterymate, with whom he's worked throughout the rehab process. 

"Awesome," he said. "He had good command of his pitches. He threw a very good slider and change-up. He worked a lot with the fastball. It had good velocity today. ... His change-up and slider worked today."

Also of note, Pineda conducted his postgame press conference without an interpreter, which was pretty darn impressive. He also bought the team some outback. I'm sure they enjoyed that quite a bit. 

More good stuff: Andrew Clark, a week out of indy ball, might be the best hitter on this team right now. He popped two longballs tonight and added a single for good measure. He's hitting .429/.429/.762 over his first five games with the Thunder. Obviously a miniscule sample size, but a great boost for a team badly needing some offense. 

For a guy who spent part of his brief time out of baseball as a garbage man, a Nissan employee, a contractor and a UPS unloader, it's pretty darn special to be back driving baseballs over fences once again. 

"This whole year has just been unbelievable," he said. "From working numerous jobs, to playing independent ball, to getting released by two teams this year with the White Sox and the Rangers and then signing with the Yankees, it's just been unbelievable, man. I've been real blessed." 

Needless to say, Franklin likes having Clark's bat in the lineup, too. 

"When Andrew came to us, he was a guy they said had very good plate discipline and some power, and  I've seen both since he's been here," he said. "That first night, he looked pretty good against a pretty good lefty (Drake Britton) and I said, 'Those are some pretty decent at-bats.' Tonight he really got untracked and put some really good swings on the ball."

Shortstop Carmen Angelini also had two hits, including his first Double-A home run, a no-doubter over the wall in left. It had been a rough go for him thus far in the Eastern League.

NOTES: Brian Cashman was not in the house as expected. Apparently there was some kerfuffle in New York over Alex Rodriguez and Twitter. ... The Eastern League All-Star rosters will be announced tomorrow. ... Since J.R. Murphy left, Thunder catchers are 0 for 15 in trying to catch potential basestealers. ... Francisco Rondon returned from Triple-A and spun three shutout innings after Pineda exited. He fanned five.

Picks to Click: This was technically an off day for me, so Nick Peruffo and Trentonian intern Cody Exter did the writing. Here are their game story and notes from PinedaMania.

Flicks to Click: Here's my highlight reel and the Pineda presser, plus the Thunder's highlight reel for stuff I missed. Enjoy.


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