Ben Johnson connected for the first time this year in Portland. Corey Smith did the same in Mobile.…
Strom win behind Sean Thompson gem
After picking off two runners in his first Storm game, Sean Thompson picked off the first runner to reach base on Saturday.
Thompson thought he should have had a sharp grounder in the fifth, twirling around in an attempt to nab it but coming up short. The play resulted in an infield single. He struck out the next batter and Kottaras threw out the runner trying to steal.
After the game, Thompson was still peeved about the play saying, "The best athletes on the field are the pitchers. If we cant make plays that we have practiced over and over and over in spring training then I should be upset with myself."
George Kottaras just missed a homer in his first at bat, pulling a pitch that sailed to the wrong side of the foul pole. He did double to open the bottom of the fifth and came around to score when Steve Baker drove him in. Baker began his at bat with two failed bunt attempts before driving an 0-2 pitch into left-center to put the Storm up 2-0 while also extending his hitting streak to seven games. Baker was then thrown out trying to steal second. Juan Ciriaco doubled in Brian Burgamy, who reached base on a walk in the fifth. Ciriaco was then thrown out trying to stretch the play into a triple.
Baker saved a double in the sixth with a headlong dive in deep right-center, stretching out to make the grab.
"I got a good jump on the ball and gave my best effort, made the dive and fortunately came up on top on that one," said Baker.
"Outstanding play in right-centerfield by Baker," Renteria said.
Thompson ended his day on a walk to open the seventh, after 88 pitches. He went six-plus innings and allowed no runs on four hits and one walk while striking out six. He ranged 87-91 on his fastball and even dropped in a 58 mile per hour curveball.
Pointedly asked about the one walk after the game by this reporter, he served up a gem:
"The walk was eating me alive, one of those things where you want to go down into a dungeon and get a rope," Thompson joked.
"He did his job," manager Rick Renteria said. "He really battled through some situations and made some nice pitches. It was time to take him out and say ‘great job'."
"I haven't been throwing my curve ball as much as I used to, so I tried to come out this game and level it out a little bit, and I started breaking off a few more," Thompson added. "So my curve ball and change-up were working a little more than my fastball was."
Dirk Hayhurst came on in relief of Thompson and induced a ground out before striking out the next two batters.
Brian Burgamy made a defensive play in the top of the eighth that was similar to that of Baker's. Ranging towards the left field line, Burgamy dove and snared a tailing liner to help Hayhurst come through unscathed.
"Both plays were pivotal," Renteria added. "Especially the catch down there with Brian. He got a great break on it, didn't quite know if he was going to get to it, and all of a sudden he closed the gap. He felt it. He sensed it. He trusted his instincts and ended up making a beautiful catch. That was a really big play for us."
Before the game, Burgamy admitted a comfort level with playing in the outfield. He was drafted as a second baseman and played there last year.
"They made a decision to move me back to outfield," he said. "So far it is working out. I am a lot more comfortable out there."
Wilmer Villatoro began the ninth in a non-save situation. He allowed two runs, one earned, on two hits and a walk, including a double that left the tying run at the plate. Leo Rosales came on in relief and struck out the first batter and induced a ground out to second that was booted by Peeter Ramos to score one and make it 4-2. Rosales got the next batter looking to secure the win and get his second save of the year.
The Storm hit into four double plays on Friday and began Saturday by hitting into a double play in each of the first two innings.
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