PP Game Notes: Thunder 7 - Curve 6

The beauty of baseball is that, whether you're going good or whether you're scuffling, you get a chance to start again the very next day. And this would prove to be a blessing on this night for Thunder. After losing ten of their last eleven and falling behind in fourteen of their last sixteen, the Thunder scored three in the first and went on to win by a score of 7-6 in game two of a four game series against the Altoona Curve.

Ben Julianel (1-2) got the win in relief and Hansel Izquierdo got a save by pitching a scoreless final two innings. David Lundquist (0-1) took the loss for Altoona in relief.

The Thunder jumped to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first off Altoona starter Landon Jacobsen. Kevin Reese led off the game with a double to the right field corner. After a ground out by Teuris Olivares, Robinson Cano followed with a triple to left that leftfielder Josh Bonifay misjudged , allowing Bonifay to make it all the way to third. Reese scored to give Trenton a 1-0 lead. Aaron Rifkin followed with a sacrifice fly to left that scored Cano and put the Thunder up 2-0. After a walk to Dioner Navarro and a wild pitch to Jackson Melian allowing Navarro to reach second, Melian singled to center and Navarro scored to give them a 3-0 lead.

Altoona came back in the top of the second with two of their own. Josh Bonifay doubled to right center to lead off the inning. After a walk to Ronnie Paulino, Jeff Keppinger singled to left and Bonifay scored to cut the lead to 3-1. The next batter, Ray Navarrette, hit a sacrifice fly to deep right center, scoring Paulino and making it a 3-2 game. Brandon Chaves then hit a sacrifice fly to left that scored Keppinger and tied the game at 3 before Yurendell DeCaster was out on an appeal that he missed second base on his way back to first. Since it is an appeal play after the run scored, the run counts.

The Thunder added one more in the second to retake the lead at 4-3 on the tail of a Jason Grove home run to left. It was Grove's fourth of the year. Matt Smith was unable to keep runners off the bases for Trenton and was lifted with the bases loaded and nobody out in the third. He was charged with three runs in his two plus innings of work, after getting the Curve out in order in the first. After the game, manager Stump Merrill defind Smith, "not sound" and said it had to do with not being able to get full extension with his elbow and that tonight was a "proving ground" for him. Merrill is undecided as to whether Smith will be shut down or take his normal turn in the rotation. He added that "I know he's a competitor and that he wants to pitch through it."

Rik Currier came on behind Smith and after getting the first two batters he faced to strike out and pop up, issued a walk to Jeff Keppinger that forced in Chris Duffy to tie the game at 4.

The Thunder came back with a run in the bottom of the fourth to take a 5-4 lead. Jason Grove hit a one out single to center that was followed by a double to left center off the bat of JT Stotts that scored Grove and gave Trenton the lead.

The sixth saw Altoona take a 6-5 lead. The Curve tied the game at 5 when Ray Navarrette hit a homer to left. Two batters later, Brandon Chaves walked and the next batter, Chris Duffy doubled to the left field corner and Chaves scored to give Altoona a 6-5 lead.

The Thunder reclaimed the lead in the bottom half, scoring two of their own. Jake Weber led off the inning with a walk and after the next two batters were retired, Kevin Reese doubled to right center, scoring Weber, and tying the game at 6. The next batter, Teuris Olivares, singled to left, scoring Reese and was thrown out stretching it into a double after the run had scored. This gave Trenton their eventual 7-6 margin of victory.

Notes
All of minor league baseball has seen a 3.6 percent increase in attendance so far this season. The Eastern League has seen a 15.2% rise in attendance this year. The Thunder attendance is up 18.5% this year over last year… Matt Smith came into the game with a 2.75 ERA, good for eighth best in the Eastern League. …The Thunder bullpen has stranded only approximately 50% of all inherited runners this year. ….Gary LaVelle said during BP this evening that RHP Buddy Carlyle will be joining the Thunder before tomorrow's game…In addition to Carlyle, Craig Wilson will join the club from Tampa and Ferdin Tejeda and Ben Julianel are being sent down to Tampa.…. The pitching staff in general has a 6.24 ERA during the month of May…Pitching Match-ups for the upcoming weekend series in Reading have Sean Henn (1-1) facing off against Robinson Tejeda (2-4) on Friday, Chien-ming Wang (1-3) going against Keith Bucktrot (3-1) on Saturday and Matt Smith (3-3) going against Franklin Perez (2-3) on Sunday.

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