Saturday, June 7, 2008

Offense has gone lost in New Jersey

The Trenton Thunder scored a 4-0 win over the Reading Phillies at Waterfront Park last night, again getting solid starting pitching and just enough hitting to win.

Phil Coke was on a pitch count because he was pitching on three days' rest after an appearance at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre earlier this week. He pitched well enough to keep Reading off the board, but was not fantastic. He gave up a few solid hits, although he was able to tightrope out of danger.

His counterpart, J.D. Durbin, was not quite as fortunate, lasting until the seventh inning after Trenton catcher P.J. Pilittere slammed a two-run double to the gap in right-center. For more on Durbin, check out my story.

The Thunder and Phillies complete the series tomorrow, and the offense just hasn't been there so far. The teams have combined for seven runs in 18 full innings. Part of that has been because of the pitching. Jason Jones is the Eastern League's leader in wins, Antonio Bastardo had a great performance last night, Coke was just coming down from Triple-A and Durbin has hardly been touched since asking for demotion to Reading.

The Trenton bullpen has also been solid. Mark Melancon, who my Trentonian colleague Josh Norris believes will be in Scranton soon, was very strong in the closer role. He's pitched well out of the bullpen since coming up from Tampa.

It appears that's just the kind of team Tony Franklin has. The Thunder will play a lot of close games, and because of their pitching, they'll win a good chunk of them.

Around the Eastern League, the Thunder increased their lead because Portland somehow found a way to blow a 10-run lead. That is not a misprint. The Sea Dogs, playing at Hadlock Field, led the Akron Aeros 10-0 after five innings and lost 11-10. Trenton now leads the EL North by four games.

Around the rest of the North, the Binghamton Mets stayed hot, blanking the New Britain Rock Cats 3-0 at home. The B-Mets keep inching closer to the Sea Dogs, but haven't gained anything on Trenton. The Connecticut Defenders picked themselves up with a 5-2 win at Altoona, and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats stayed consistent with a 3-1 home loss to the Erie Seawolves. It's a good thing the 2008 Eastern League All-Star game will be played in Manchester, N.H., because that's the only chance Fisher Cats fans will have to see good baseball.

Finally, Bowie crushed Harrisburg 13-2 to increase its lead to 1 1/2 games. The Aeros trail the Senators by a mere half-game now for second behind the Baysox.

That's all for tonight. I've got an American Legion game in Trenton, we'll see how that goes.

My time is up. You've all been great. Enjoy Rachel Proctor.

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