TRENTON – After taking two-of-three games in Akron to improve to 3-3 on the season, the Thunder returned to Trenton and welcomed in the Portland Sea Dogs on Thursday night for their home opener at ARM & HAMMER Park.“It feels fabulous,” admitted Manager Bobby Mitchell when asked how it felt to be back home. “It is always tough to start a season on the road. You look forward to starting the season, and it almost becomes anticlimactic when you start on the road.”
Coming off of a 5 2/3inning no-hit performance against Erie in the season opener last Saturday, right-hander Chance Adams took the ball for Trenton and was sensational. The 22-year old heralded prospect held the Sea Dogs without a hit over the first four innings to extend his hitless innings streak to 9 2/3 to open the season.
“Chance was good,” said Mitchell. “He dominated at the beginning a lot; he threw fastballs by them and he was effective with his changeup, which he is working on.”
Trenton had scored first in all six previous games and continued that trend by drawing first blood in the bottom half of the fourth. After third baseman Miguel Andujar singled to lead things off, he quickly advanced to third base on a wild pitch and a passed ball. After first baseman Dante Bichette Jr. drew a one-out walk, right fielder Billy McKinney drove a well struck triple to the base of the right field wall to plate two runs and put the Thunder ahead 2-0. Catcher Jorge Saez would tack on two more runs with a monstrous two-run homer over the left field wall to extend the lead to four.With a cushion to work with, Adams went back to work in the fifth and was promptly greeted by a single from Portland third baseman Rafael Devers to end his hitless innings streak at 9 2/3. The Sea Dogs were able to put two runners on with two outs but could not push a run across.
“I knew that I hadn’t given up a hit,” admitted Adams. “I wasn’t really thinking about it, they’re going to get a hit eventually. I wasn’t going to go the whole season without giving up a hit.”
The Sea Dogs saw their first three batters of the sixth inning reach base and finally got to Adams on a two-run double by Devers to cut the Thunder lead to 5-2. Portland would tack on a third run in the frame on a RBI groundout by left fielder Nick Longhi. After issuing a walk to catcher Jordan Procyshen with two outs, Mitchell came to the mound to pull Adams in favor of Matt Wotherspoon.
In total, Adams tossed 94 pitches on the night over 5 2/3 innings and yielded four hits, three runs, one earned run, two walks and struck out eight.
In his first full season as a starter last season, the Yankees imposed a strict innings limit/pitch count on Adams to limit the strain on his arm. The fact that Adams was allowed to throw 94 pitches in just his second outing of the season is an indication that the organization may have loosened the leash on Adam’s pitch restrictions.“They had him on a lower limit and they raised it a little bit right before the game started,” admitted Mitchell.
“It felt good,” said Adams. “It’s kind of nice being able to go a little bit longer than I did; I did go 5 2/3 again but it was nice to have those extra pitches.”
Both teams would tack on one more run the rest of the way. Thunder closer Cale Coshow came on and pitched a scoreless ninth inning with three strikeouts to notch his first save of the season and give Trenton the 6-4 victory.
“When you have the fan support that we had tonight coming home, it’s a big win for us. Because it is opening night in front of a big crowd you want to make a good impression and I think we did a good job of doing that.”