The Trenton Thunder currently sit at 8-7 overall and third place in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League behind the Reading Phillies (11-4) and New Britain Rock Cats (11-5). After dropping the first three games of their seven game road trip last week to the Aeros in Akron, Trenton has since won five of their last six ball games, including a three game sweep of the Erie Sea Wolves earlier in the week.
Much of the Thunder’s success can be attributed to quality pitching from both the rotation and bullpen, posting a combined team ERA of 3.07, a top five mark in the league.
Craig Heyer (1-1 2.16 ERA), Shaeffer Hall (2-1 3.94 ERA) and Cory Arbiso (0-0 1.94 ERA) have been very impressive in anchoring the starting rotation. The three starters combine for a 3-2 record and a stellar 2.50 ERA in eight combined starts. Since being moved from the bullpen into the rotation last turn around in Akron on April 13, Arbiso has surrendered just one run in his first two starts.
Preston Claiborne has been a horse for the team, throwing 10 dominant innings out of the bullpen while posting a 1.80 ERA. Claiborne has been just about spotless on the season, having surrendered runs in just one of his six appearances (2 runs against Akron on April 13). In addition to Claiborne, southpaw Lee Hyde, Ryan Flannery, and Kelvin Perez have been key cogs to the bullpen, having pitched 24.1 combined innings for a 1.19 ERA and 23 strikeouts.
In addition to solid pitching, the Thunder have relied heavily on the long ball to provide scoring. As a team, Trenton leads the Eastern League in home runs, having blasted 19 of them through the first 15 games. Centerfielder Melky Mesa is tied for the team lead in homers with DH Cody Johnson, both having four. Mesa is also the team leader in RBIs with 12.
Second Baseman Ronnier Mustelier, who has multi-hit games in five of his last seven games, has been a terror to opponents at the dish. Mustelier is hitting .345 on the season and is tied for third overall in the Eastern League with 20 hits.
After digging themselves in an early 3-6 hole to start the season, the Thunder have gone 5-1 and appear to be hitting their stride as the dog days of summer are just around the corner. Having split the first two games of the four game series with first place Harrisburg on Thursday and Friday night, the final two games of the series will be a good barometer of where the Thunder currently stand amongst the top teams in the league. It is also a tremendous opportunity to make up ground and possibly catch first place Reading in the standings with last place Erie coming to town next week.
NOTES: After throwing 66 pitches over five innings in an extended spring training start in Tampa yesterday, it appears as though Andy Pettitte will pitch in Trenton for the Thunder on Wednesday night against Erie.
Right-Fielder and Trenton’s top rated position prospect, Zoilo Almonte, has been placed on the seven day disabled list with a strained hamstring.
Yadil Mujica was demoted from Triple-A Scranton to take Almonte’s roster spot. Mujica spent all of 2011 with Trenton, posting a .233 batting average with a homer and 14 RBIs.
Drew Hutchinson, who started against Trenton on opening night for Portland just 16 days ago, has been called up to the Major Leagues and will make the start for Toronto this afternoon against Kansas City.