The Trenton Thunder bats are so far enjoying their Memorial Day Weekend trip to Portland’s Hadlock Field. Last night’s cold and rain failed to cool down the Thunder offense with eight runs and seventeen hits and today’s warm sun certainly heated up the Thunder bats again.
Sixteen hits led to a 13-1 drubbing of the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) with five hitters having multiple hits and every starter but one having at least one hit. Billy McKinney (two doubles and one single) and Francisco Diaz led the way with three hits apiece and Diaz picking up a put out by rifling a throw to second base to pick off a straying runner.
Miguel Andujar (2 2B), Rashad Crawford and Zack Zehner all had two hits each with Zehner driving in six runs. Zehner put the game away in the sixth inning with a monstrous Grand Slam to dead center field that cleared the ballpark and ended up in a grove of trees behind the centerfield wall. The bright sun became a significant factor in the game with three dropped balls between the teams, along with an unusually sloppy defensive performance for Portland.
Yefry Ramirez became the beneficiary of the Thunder offense but hardly needed the help by holding to Portland to one hit (a pop fly ball that should have been caught) and striking out nine in his 5 2/3 innings. Ramirez exited in the six after his 9th strikeout and 104 pitches.
Ramirez put himself in deep counts all day and walked three, which led to his high pitch count. The only Portland run of the game was charged to Ramirez after Cody Carroll entered the game with two outs in the sixth and allowed an inherited runner to score from first after a wild pitch and a hard single to right. Today marked Carroll’s debut with the Thunder following his promotion last night from Tampa.
The Thunder offensive explosion overshadowed the pitching of Ramirez and Carroll, but both had dominant pitching performances. Ramirez worked over Portland’s hitters by moving his fastball all over the hitting zone and generating a lot of swing and misses.
The stadium gun had Ramirez’s fastball sitting between 89 and 93 MPH, but the eye test made the stadium readings look a bit low. His fastball played up much better than what the stadium gun reflected, and Ramirez climbed the ladder on some Portland hitters driving up his pitch count but also resulting in several strikeouts. Ramirez also showed a sinking fastball that consistently clocked between 87-89 MPH and an occasional slider.
Carroll’s fastball was even more dominant, and he quickly settled down after the initial wild pitch and single he gave up entering in the sixth. Overpowering hitters with a fastball consistently at 95 MPH, Carroll made several Sea Dogs look foolish, including Boston’s top prospect Rafael Devers who found himself tied up on a 95 MPH in on his hands for a swinging strike three. Carroll finished with six strikeouts in 2 1/3 innings while walking none and giving up three hits. Matt Marsh closed out the ninth, walking one.