It was a dark and stormy night.
No, really. Reading was dealt the opening at home, but as is common in these parts, the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. While they weren’t forced to cancel any games, they did have fans in the stands suffering the brutal conditions. What effect did it have on the team? Don’t both teams need to play in the same environment?
But, the season started with left-hand pitching prospect Ranger Suarez on the mound versus the Erie Seawolves–AA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers. The #18 prospect in the system looked very much like a 22-year old from Venezuela who had never pitched in 41-degree temperatures. Perhaps he had and I’m not giving him credit. But, as a control-first lefty he had problems hitting his spots and his mistakes were punished by a decent-hitting Erie team. He went but three innings and gave up seven runs. The home team lost 7-1.
The next night Harold Arauz took the mound–perhaps the only Reading starter not easily found on prospect lists. He held the Erie bats at bay for five innings but highly touted reliever Seranthony Dominguez was unable to continue the feat. He looked nothing like the player we saw on TV from Clearwater during spring training–again leading me to believe that the weather was a factor for some of these younger pitchers. The Fightins lost 4-1.
Saturday brought another prospect–another lefty in Jojo Romero, the #12 prospect in the Phillies system. Six runs–five earned–later over just four innings and he had taken his beating as well.
On Sunday afternoon the bats finally started to heat up for the ostrich-lovers from Baseballtown: The fightins posted 8 runs paced by a 5-run sixth inning to lead to an 8-3 win. Unfortunately for Jacob Waguespack, who burst onto the scene with Reading last summer–then the IronPigs in the playoffs–he allowed three runs, two earned, with three walks and five hits over just three innings and wasn’t around to benefit from the runs scored in the sixth.
It was a badly needed win for the Fightins, to avoid getting swept by Erie in the last game of the series. Indeed, the AA squad is going to need to win games much like the IronPigs this season, with quality starting pitching and an effective bull-pen. Neither team needs to get into 8-7 games every night (despite what was to come–and what the IronPigs did last night). Both teams should be able to be competitive night-in and night-out with their pitching.
In came the Portland SeaDogs on Monday, AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Highly regarded prospect Franklyn Kilome was on the mound as the snow began to fall at game-time. The #9 prospect came out firing a 93 MPH heater which began to touch 97-98 as he got warmed up. He was also featuring a pitch in the mid-80s–84-85–that he seemed to be working on that evening. At times, the pitch was devastating to the young Red Sox prospects who were trying to get geared up for mid-90s. At other times, the ball was so far from the strike zone that it didn’t do well. It could have been a slider or a change-up. I thought change while I was watching, but learned later it could have been the slider. In any case, his impressive curve didn’t appear but once or twice in the first inning, but was used much more often in the third and fourth inning. A scary moment in the second inning saw Kilome go to his knees, and cover his face with his arms. He then got up and turned around, not facing his catcher or the dugout. Finally, the catcher and the trainers came out to check on him. He threw a practice pitch, and remained in the game. After that, his fastball was mostly 93, touching 95. And, as mentioned above, he threw way more curves. Nevertheless, he was effective and in spite of the snow and the inconsistent secondary pitches, I thought he looked more in command of the game than he had last August. Kilome ended with 4.0IP/3H/2ER/2BB/8K, and while the bullpen surrendered a couple runs the team hung on for a 6-5 win for their second win in a row.
Ranger Suarez took the mound for a second start in the home-stand on Tuesday evening. He looked better and held the Sea Dogs to two runs over six innings. Unfortunately, clinging to a 3-2 lead in the sixth, the relievers were unable to hold the lead and the game ended regulation in a 3-3 tie. The AA team was then blessed to try the new extra-inning rules which ultimately concluded in the 13th inning with a 7-5 Sea Dogs win during the exhibition phase of the game.
To conclude the home-stand and the series with the SeaDogs the Fightins took the field for a “Business Person’s Special” on Wednesday afternoon. While I don’t think the Boston affiliate is a terribly good team, they aren’t as bad as the 12-4 drubbing they got in Baseballtown this day. Indeed it was a lot of “getaway game / day game” stuff as both teams were swinging early and often. The difference was that Harold Arauz was missing bats, while the Phillies’ affiliate was crushing homers. Young catcher Deivi Grullon was able to smack two, while Tomscha added one.
Reading is currently 3-4 and in third place in the EL-Eastern, 3.0 games behind New Hampshire.
2B Brandon Bednar: The free agent signing from Richmond, in limited duty: .462/.462/.769
3B Damek Tomscha: .304/.469/.652 with 2 HR and 2 doubles.
1B Zach Green: He started really slow, but ended the home stand with: .364/.364/.591 with 1 HR and 2 doubles
Reading returns from Richmond and Harrisburg on Friday, April 20 to face New Hampshire and their crew of sluggers including Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette!
See you in Baseballtown!