Columbus Clippers. The Clippers dropped their second game in a row to start the season as starting pitcher Nerio Rodriguez was roughed up in 4 2/3 innings of work. He gave up 4 runs on 7 hits while striking out 6 and walking two. To start the year, Rodriguez now has a bloated 7.71 ERA. But this is only one start. Mike Thurman was not much better coming on in relief of Rodriguez. Thurman gave up a run in 1 2/3 innings while striking out two. The only major offense was provided by 1b Todd Betts who blasted a solo home run while picking up his second RBI of the year at the same time. Shortstop, Felix Escalona has gotten off to a great start as he picked up two hits in this one and has a .656 batting average to start the year. Picking up a double was 3b, Brian Myrow who has gotten off to a decent start. Caonabo Cosme also added a single to the extremely limited Columbus offense. Newly reacquired reliever Colter Bean came in for the ninth despite it being a non save situation. Bean pitched a scoreless ninth and struck out a batter.
Trenton Thunder. Javier Ortiz took the mound for Trenton on Friday night and pitched 5 1/3 innings, walking 2 and striking out 7 while allowing 3 runs. All three runs were earned. At one point, Ortiz retired 13 in a row as he was very impressive on this night. Despite an excellent performance, Ortiz took the no decision. Jon Blankenship was unimpressive in his brief 1/3 inning of relief, giving up the go ahead run to Erie. The same can be said for Jeff Kennard who also failed Ortiz in this game. In 1 2/3 innings, Kennard gave up 2 runs on 3 hits. Also adding fuel to the bullpen implosion was Francisco Villegas as the bullpen all of a sudden has become a burden for Trenton early this year. The defense for Dioner Navarro was also a cause for concern on Friday as he allowed two passed balls and now has a total of 3 on the season. Mitch Jones smashed his first home run of the year in this one while scoring two runs. Jones had two hits on the night. Jake Weber also added two hits of his own to remain an instant solid player for Trenton. Kevin Reese remained red hot as he has started the season 6-9. Reese had yet another 3 hit game on Friday including a ninth inning double. Jon Blankenship took the loss in this one for the Trenton Thunder, spoiling a good performance turned in by Javier Ortiz.
Tampa Yankees. Matt DeSalvo was on the mound for Tampa and picked up the victory as the Tampa Yankees took this one 7-5. Tamp 1b, Shelly Duncan continued his hot hitting by blasting a solo home run to tie the game in the second inning. Eric Verbryke added some offense of his own when he ripped a double to lead off the third inning. Two batters later, Bronson Sardinha got going with an RBI single to score Verbryke. Ben Julianel struggled in his relief appearance on Friday night and allowed Lakeland to pull within two of Tampa on the scoreboard. Julianel is looked at as on of the primary setup men for this team. One of biggest bright spots in this game for Tampa was the emergence of Edwardo Sierra as a top closer. Sierra was called upon to get the final four outs in this one as Julianel was struggling in the eight inning. Sierra came through with ease and was able to pick up the save. Jose Valdez will take the mound for Tampa on Saturday night.
Battle Creek Yankees. For the second night in a row, the Battle Creek offense did not live up to advanced billing as they only managed to put one run on the board. T.J. Beam was on the hill for Battle Creek and much like Chase Wright the night before, he did not receive much run support. Beam went four innings, gave up two runs on only three hits while striking out 8! So the starting pitching staff of BC has gotten off to a very good start for the 2004 season. The only offense to speak of was provided by Willie Vazquez who hit an RBI double to score John Urick in the bottom of the sixth inning. Estee Harris had a two hit game however, along with young shortstop Hector Made. The bat of 3b Eric Duncan has remained cold but his patience and professional approach has remained. Duncan drew two walks on Friday night. Out of the bullpen Chris Kemlo and Adam Wheeler both threw 2 excellent innings apiece. Pitching has been the advocate of this team early one but their good hitters must get going soon. DH Bryce Kartler has had a solid start as he has picked up a hit in 3 at bats on Friday.