Those distractions could have affected how Biddle pitched, but they could have affected him in either a positive or a negative way. In a positive way, all of those things served to pull attention away from him. In a negative way, those distractions only added to the frenzy that still comes with Jesse Biddle making a start for Reading.
Biddle didn't use anything as an excuse for his poor outing.
"The fact is that I just sucked tonight," said a frustrated Biddle following the 5-2 loss to Portland.
In six innings, Biddle allowed six hits - two of which were home runs - and walked six hitters resulting in five earned runs on the night. His season ERA now stands at 3.29 and his record is now a disappointing 3-7 on the season.
"Early on, he seemed to have a good angle on his ball, but he seemed to lose that, especially in the middle innings," explained Reading manager Dusty Wathan. "To his credit, he stuck it out a little bit and went six innings. We were a little short in the bullpen after a double-header the other day and then an early exit by our starter yesterday and Jesse was able to stick around for six innings."
Biddle wound up throwing 104 pitches, with exactly half - 52 - being for strikes, well below the two-to-one ratio that a pitcher likes to see. At times, Biddle would show signs of being the pitcher that struck out 16 hitters earlier this season in Harrisburg and then suddenly lose command and seem unable to throw a strike.
One problem was getting ahead of hitters. Biddle threw first pitch strikes to just ten of the 28 hitters that he faced in the game.
"I walked six today and that's what I'm going to look at," explained Biddle. "Every hitter is a good hitter when they're ahead in the count. I didn't have them on their heels at all today; I didn't pitch my game. I've just got to keep working."
Biddle insists that in all ways - mechanically, mentally and approach - he hasn't changed anything since early in the season when he was having a lot of success on the mound, including being named the Eastern League Pitcher of the Month in April. He also made it very clear that he'll be at work Friday looking for ways to fix the control issues that plagued him against Portland and continuing to search for ways to get back to the pitcher that he was in April when he posted a 1.74 ERA. May and June have seen him go 1-6 with a 4.28 ERA.
To start, Biddle will be back talking to his coaches, who he always trusts to be brutally honest. From there, it's a matter of examining himself to find the answers that will get him back to form, which he knows he'll eventually do.
"I've had a stretch every year where I kind of can't find the zone, but I always bounce back; I always do and that's a testament to my coaches and just coming in every day and putting the work in and I'm not going to stop doing that," stressed Biddle.
"Nobody is going to be more mad at me than I am. I let myself down, I let my team down, but I know that it's in there. I know that I can pitch well and that's what a good April does for you. You can always look back on it and say 'I pitched well then, why can't I do it now'. I'm going to bounce back, I know I will."