Huber Happy to Be Back in Binghamton

In the rubber game of this three game series, the second place Thunder trounced the first place Binghamton Mets by a score of 11-5. The B-Mets were down early as starting pitcher Neal Musser gave up three runs in the first and the game was blown open, when the Thunder put up another three spot, in the third.

It was a lackluster performance by both the B-Mets hitting and their pitching. The only highlights came in the first when David Wright singled and then Prentice Redman homered bringing the Mets within one. It would be as close as they were to come. Redman ended the game 2 for 5 and Wright continued his hot hitting going 3 for 4 with a walk.

Musser (1-1) started the game looking flat. He lasted a mere 2 and 1/3 innings giving up six runs and suffering his first loss of the season. Jake Joseph came on in relief and looked like he might be able to stop the bleeding. His fastball got into the low 90's and his curve looked sharp. With the Mets down 6-3 after four, irony took its turn at the plate. NYSEG stadium (yes, NYSEG the electric company) had trouble getting the lights to come on. The game was delayed for slightly over an hour while electricians worked on the problem. During the delay, some B-Mets got on top of the dugout and threw soft baseballs to the crowd, while the Thunder had a pizza delivered to their dugout. During the delay, catcher Justin Huber "hung out" in the dugout and warmed up Tim Lavigne who pitched a not so stellar three innings giving up three hits and three earned runs.

Justin Huber, who was called up last Friday, handled four pitchers tonight and got plenty of work around the plate as all four pitchers were throwing the ball in the dirt. There were three wild pitches and one passed ball, all while Huber blocked several balls in the dirt saving at least two runs. Huber said, after the game, that he "did not change his pitch calling at all and was not afraid to call for the breaking pitch" despite the pitchers continually bouncing the ball. The 6"2 native Australian explained that he "didn't know" if the cold weather was affecting the pitcher's grip and causing them to throw it in the dirt. "Sometimes they just throw them in the dirt. That's baseball." was the only explanation he was sure of.

In his thick Australian accent, Huber said that he has had "no trouble, at all" handling or getting used to the pitching staff since being called up. Huber was a top prospect last year, but struggled when called up to double A. Teams exposed his arm as a weakness and ran on him at will, and as a result he started 2004 in single A. Internally though, the Mets coaching staff agrees that his arm strength is fine, but his mechanics need work. Growing up and playing ball in Australia, Huber may have learned some sloppy mechanics, but the Met organization has been impressed with his coachability and is still very high on him. His potential right now is limitless, and his success seems almost assured especially if his power numbers continue to improve. Last year he had a better HR/AB ratio than David Wright and a slugging pct. above .500 in St. Lucie.

When asked if he felt slighted about having to start the year in single A, Huber grinned, "no, that's their decision. What's important is the future not the past." Mike Jacobs, the other phenomenal Met catching prospect, has moved slightly ahead of Huber in terms of organizational favor. He started the year in Norfolk, but has struggled so far this season batting only .220. If Huber's hot hitting continues and Jacobs continues to struggle, it may not be too long before they switch teams.

Huber walked in the third and scored the Mets' fourth run when he beat out a grounder to short for an infield single, moved to second on an error, to third on a passed ball, and then scored when Chase Lambin grounded out to second. Huber finished the day 1 for 3 with a walk and is batting .333 since arriving at Binghamton.

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