Game 8: Post-Game Notes

— As 11-3 games go, that one was pretty interesting.  On the Patriots side of things, Ryan Freel took a slider in the side one at-bat after raising his fist as he ran to first base, celebrating his first Atlantic League hit after beginning the season 0-for-11.  Noah Hall hit the deck one pitch later, as a hard fastball from Bluefish reliever Jorge Perez sailed over his head.  Hall appeared to claim the pitch hit him, but the home plate umpire ruled it hit his bat, leading to a brief argument from manager Sparky Lyle.

As far as Bridgeport goes, reliever Denny Stark got ejected from the game and had to be physically restrained numerous times by catcher Luis Rodriguez from going after the umpire.  He must have said a magic word after a four-pitch walk.

And Joe Jiannetti nearly ignited a benches clearing incident in the eighth inning, when he had words with Patriots catcher Pete LaForest…apparently over pitch selection in an 11-run game.  Both players briefly stood chest-to-chest, and the Patriots infielders began walking towards home plate before order was quickly restored.

I can talk about those various events all I want, but you want to hear from the guys involved, right?  Good thing I went down into the clubhouse after the game.

— Freel says he was just excited that he got his first hit, and had no thoughts or intent of showing up Bluefish starter Riley Shuckerow: “When you’re 0-for-11, you should be excited about getting your first hit.  When I got hit, that was a slider.  He didn’t do that on purpose.  If he did, I don’t think he would do that on a slider.” 

— LaForest didn’t have much to say about his incident with Jiannetti: “He was pissed because we were winning, 11-0.  Whatever.  Nothing to say about it.”

— Tom Mastny was dominant tonight, needing just 57 pitches to get through five innings of scoreless baseball.  He allowed just two hits, and didn’t issue a walk.  Imagine what he can do when he can actually see clearly…

“It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t perfect,” said Mastny, who pitched wearing contacts, not the glasses he had on several days go.

“It was a little blurry, but it wasn’t enough to really affect me.”

Mastny, facing his first live hitters in over a month, was pleased by his outing.

“I wasn’t trying to do too much, I was just trying to attack hitters and get them to put the ball in play,” Mastny told me.

“I wasn’t trying to be too fine.  I told Pete before the game, whatever he calls, I’m going to throw.  I trust him and he called a great game.  I was able to keep the ball down in the zone and throw all my pitches for strikes.  I was happy with how it went.”

His catcher was quick to return the compliments…

“He was awesome,” LaForest said.

“He was commanding his fastball, he was throwing a good curveball, sliders.  He was mixing in the changeup, too.  He was mixing it up and locating.  He was in control of what he does, that’s how he pitches.  We knew that coming in, and he’s just a command guy.  He was awesome, he was great to catch.”

Knowing he was on a pitch count, Mastny avoided the pitfalls that can come with that…

“Sometimes you run into trying to do too much and trying to go too deep into the game,” he said.

“I haven’t faced a hitter in over a month, so I was just trying to get out there trying to throw the ball over the plate.  I really wasn’t worried about my pitch count…I never actually spoke to Brett about what my pitch count would be.  My goal was to get five innings in, and whatever the pitch count was at that point, that would suffice.”

So was Mastny surprised at how well he performed given the fact that he hadn’t faced live hitters since big league spring training?

“Yes and no,” he said.

“I didn’t expect just two hits and no runs.  I really wasn’t concerned with the end result.  I was more worried about hitting the zone and staying back and just getting comfortable up there again.  Sometimes that’s when you have your best games, when you’re just going out there and not worrying about results and going out there and attacking hitters.  That’s what I did tonight.”

— The mood was pretty positive in the Patriots clubhouse after the game.  Why wouldn’t it be?  They’d won 11-3, and the back-to-back champs have now won back-to-back games for the first time all season.  There was, however, one notable exception.  Reliever Daryl Arreola was responsible for the “three” portion of the score, and he sat silently at his locker with his head buried in his hands, clearly frustrated by another rough outing.

— Jason Belcher had the longball last night, and tonight it belonged to Somerset’s other catcher, Pete LaForest.

“I’m still trying to find my swing,” LaForest said.

“The guy gave me a good to pitch to hit, and I put a good swing on it.  There’s really nothing to say about it.”

— Belcher was the only position player on the Patriots roster not to play tonight.  David Housel saw his first game action of the season.

— Likely a bigger story than Freel getting plunked is that it appears the big leaguer is starting to turn his season around after getting off to a rough start.

“Coming in here and going 0-for-11, that’s not what I wanted to do when I got here,” Freel told me.

“It was nice to finally have a batting average.  I was excited (when I got the hit).  I’ve been working with Travis in the cages a lot the last couple days, and he’s the best hitting coach I’ve ever had.  He’s really good.  He helped me figure out some stuff.”

It seems the team is figuring out some stuff as well, having won two straight.  Freel, who briefly left the team on the last day of spring training, seems happy to have returned.

“We’ve got some pitchers doing some good things out there, and the hitters are hitting.  It’s good,” he said.

“It’s always fun to be in a clubhouse when you’re winning.  We’ve got something going here, and hopefully we can keep it up.  We’re here to win.”

— Jorge Julio and Antonio Alfonseca pitched back-to-back innings for the Bluefish tonight.  I know these guys need to get work…but there are guys for 11 and 8 run games, respectively.  It isn’t them.

— Jesse Darcy pitches for Somerset tomorrow.  He’ll be opposed by Atlantic League veteran Kevin Mannix.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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5 Responses to “Game 8: Post-Game Notes”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Great article Mike! Greatly appreciate the insight.

  2. patriotsashmore Says:

    Thanks, Kevin. I appreciate that.

  3. Devin McCullen Says:

    Best hitting coach he’s ever had? Wow, which MLB coaches should feel insulted?

    Thanks for the recap. Was at the game, but glad I wasn’t keeping score.

  4. patriotsashmore Says:

    Glad you said that. That really stood out to me when he said that, so I was actually planning on asking both him and Travis about it tomorrow…about what specifically they worked on and what makes Travis stand out so much to Freel after just a few days.

  5. DanRodriguez Says:

    Good article. Thanks. I enjoy the site.

    Yeah, I was at the game and found it interesting and was quite impressed when Freel raised his arm and then asked for the ball.

    I’m more of a Bears fan mainly because they’re the closest team to Brooklyn, where I live, but I’m a fan of the AL overall. I must admit, I’m really impressed by the quality of the coverage the Patriots get. This is a very good and informative site and I really enjoyed the radio broadcast as well. Makes me want to follow the Patriots more!

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