Trenton Thunder. Considering he is making the opening day start coming off major elbow surgery, Matt Smith faired pretty well against Erie on Thursday night. While he was not spectacular, he has shown that he is fully recovered at this point. To the aid of Smith was the powerful Trenton offense who put up 8 runs before the night was done. Smith pitched 5 innings of one run ball but did not get a decision in this one. Buddy Carlyle pitched an excellent 1 2/3 of scoreless relief while picking up the win for Trenton. The big bats were also alive and well for Trenton. Dioner Navarro picked up two hits along with J.T. Stotts, and Robinson Cano. Also having a huge opening day was Kevin Reese who went 3-5 in this one with two runs scored. Newcomer and former Yankee farmhand Jackson Melian added an RBI single on Thursday to start off on the right foot to winning a starting outfield spot. Jason Grove also picked up a big hit in this one, smashing a two run double in the 8th inning to open the flood gates for the Thunder. The Thunder starting off well in each category on opening day. Reese led the offensive charge with three hits, Matt Smith was solid on the mound, and Buddy Carlyle spearheaded excellent relief pitching.
Tampa Yankees. As a team, the Tampa Yankees were roughed up by Lakeland on Thursday night and also didn't help themselves by committing a sloppy three errors. In defense to Tampa and their offense, they did not expect to be facing major league star closer, Ugueth Urbina in the fifth inning who was preparing to return to the Detroit Tigers. For Tampa, Jon Skaggs got the nod as opening day starter. Skaggs pitched 5 innings but didn't pitch effectively. In fact, he was completely rocked by the Lakeland offense. He gave up 7 runs, 5 of which were earned, giving up two home runs and walking three. Tampa has to be hoping that Skaggs will pitch much better than that as the season unfolds. The offensive star of the game was Shelly Duncan who went 2-4 with a double and an RBI for Tampa. Duncan is looking to put together a big season after injuries slowed him last year. The catcher, Jon-Mark Sprowl also started of his 2004 well by smashing his first home run of the year. Top 10 Yankee prospect Rudy Guillen also got off to a flying start with 2 hits. One of these hits was a double. Also picking up singles were Jayson Drobiak and Deivi Mendez as offense was hard to come by for Tampa on this night. They took the opening day loss.
Battle Creek Yankees. Starting pitcher Chase Wright came out on the short end of a 3-0 score on Thursday night but his game statistics would suggest that he deserved a much better fate. Wright pitched 6 solid innings for Battle Creek, giving up on run and five hits while striking out 6 but ended up being the hard luck loser as he drops to 0-1. Offense was scarce all around off Lansing Lugnut's pitcher Sean Marshall as he, combined with the bullpen allowed BC to only 4 hits. Those hits belonged to BC leadoff man Melky Cabrera, Erold Andrus, 2b Rafael Rodriguez, and former pitcher and converted DH Bryce Kartler. The loss was an due to an unlikely culprit for Battle Creek who were expected to have a very strong offense this season. Unexpectedly, it was their pitching that kept them in the game, but more or less it was their offense that spoiled a chance at an opening day victory. The team has to also be encouraged by the strong opening day performance of their young left hander, Chase Wright, who will carry a lot of weight this year on a seemingly very thin starting five man rotation.