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Drabek Outdueled in EL Playoff Opener


TRENTON, NJ- The expected pitchers duel proved to be just as advertised. Thunder prospect Dellin Betances and Fishercats ace Kyle Drabek went to battle on the Waterfront Park mound on Wednesday night in the opening game of the Eastern League Division Series.

Drabek, the prized pitcher who came to the Toronto organization last off-season in the trade that sent Roy Halladay to Philadelphia, retired the first 9 batters he faced. Betances, a New York native, kept pace, with a huge cheering section behind him.

Betances, making his fourth start above Class A, hurled 95 mph gas at New Hampshire and mixed speeds well enough to keep the Fishercats guessing. Betances stepped his game up, as he was facing the Eastern League's anointed pitcher of the year. In 5 1/3 innings, the 22-year-old righty struck out 8 while walking just 1 and allowing 2 hits.

New Hampshire pitching coach Tom Signore talked about the outstanding efforts from the pitchers. "It was a well pitched game by both teams. Betances is a strong prospect and did great. If you look at (Kyle's) velocity, it was the best he's been all season...his high was 97. Stuff wise, he was better tonight than the night he threw the no-hitter (against New Britain on July 4th)," Signore said.

"Sometimes you don't win these games. That's what makes baseball so interesting," Signore added.

The second time through the lineup, Drabek was not as lucky. Trenton lead-off man Austin Krum worked a 4-pitch walk that changed the pace of the game. A fielders choice moved Krum to 2nd base, where he quickly stole 3rd. Daniel Brewer then plated Krum with a single that gave the Thunder a 1-0 lead.

Drabek's breaking pitches were working, but the command just wasn't there to maximize their effectiveness. The 22-year-old right-hander threw first pitch strike to only 8 of 22 batters and took the loss, going 6 innings, allowing 3 hits and 1 earned run, while striking out 5 batters. "I had trouble throwing strikes, and a lead-off walk is never good," Drabek stated. "They were just able to put some things together and get (the run) in."

"It was a little hard to find the strike zone tonight. I don't know why. I was pretty much battling the whole game."

When Betances' pitch count exceeded 90 in the 6th inning, manager Tony Franklin pulled his 6-feet-8-inches tall starter in favor of the bullpen. The Fishercats hoped to have an easier time against the Thunder relief corp.

Trenton surely had a bit more success once Drabek was pulled in favor of Trystan Magnuson. With 1 out in the 7th inning, Trenton designated hitter Rene Rivera launched a moonshot to left field for a solo homerun that padded the Thunder lead to 2 runs.

The Fishercats threatened late. In the 8th inning, short stop Adeiny Hechavarria reached with a lead-off single off of Thunder righty JB Cox. After Eric Thames struck out and Shawn Bowman popped to short, David Cooper walked. But Cox was pulled from the game and ambidextrous hurler Pat Venditte made his way to the mound and downed Adam Calderone on strikes.

In the 9th, with Trenton closer Justin Pope on the mound, Adam Loewen started things off with a single. Following a strike out by catcher Matt Liuzza, pinch hitter Ricardo Nanita stroked another single that moved Loewen to third base. Center fielder Darin Mastroianni stepped to the plate ready to inflict some damage. Already 1-for-2 on the night with 2 sacrifice bunts, Mastroianni drilled a liner right at Thunder third baseman Justin Snyder, who snagged the ball and stepped on the bag ahead of a retreating Loewen to end the game on a stunning double play, giving Trenton a 1-0 lead in the best-of-5 series, with a 2-0 victory.

After the game Drabek asserted his belief in the Fishercats' chances to recover and win the series. "Our team's still confident. We feel like we're the best team in this league. And I think we'll be alright."

The two teams go back at it on Thursday night at Trenton's Waterfront Park, as Fishercats righty Zach Stewart (8-3, 3.63 ERA), who was acquired last year in the Scott Rolen trade, takes on rehabbing Yankee left-hander Andy Pettitte, who will be making his first Eastern League start since he rehabbed in 2002. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm.


Notes...
New Hampshire had lead-off runners on base in 6 of 9 innings, but failed to score a single run. Trenton's attendance for game 1 of the Eastern League Division Series, 2,806, was their lowest attendance figure of the season. Betances earned the win and has now struck out 28 opponents in 19 2/3 innings with Trenton.
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Comments

we z eff baby said…
Drabek will never be missed in Philly as long as we have Halladay.
Jay Floyd said…
Seems like a lot of people feel that way.

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