Game 16: Post-Game Notes

— It was a good day to be named Joe at TD Bank Ballpark.  Seldom-used Joe Holden made a diving catch in center field and had a two-run home run and RBI double.  Joe Burke smacked a ball over the right field wall in the third inning to give Somerset the lead.

“It was a changeup that I kind of pulled by, but I had basically just enough luck to get it up in the air and I think it was wind-aided.  But I was lucky enough to get it out,” Burke said.

Burke’s performance is indicative of what he’s done since he first put on a Somerset uniform.  Arguably one of the most underrated players in the Atlantic League, Burke is sure to be noticed quite a bit more now that Josh Pressley, Jeff Nettles and Pete LaForest are all out of the lineup.

“We’ve lost some big bats, but I can’t try to do too much, that’s when you struggle,” Burke said.

“You have to look at yourself that if you’re in a big spot or there are guys on, you have to try to do something to spark it somehow.  Hopefully, we can hold down the fort until the big guys get back.”

As for Holden, he only got into the lineup because Wayne Lydon got a much-needed day off.  The former Mets farmhand certainly made the most of it.

“We’ve liked this kid from the get go,” said Patriots manager Sparky Lyle of Holden.

“It’s always been where are you going to put him in the lineup when we had everybody.”

Where you put him in the clubhouse is an entirely different matter, however.  Would you believe Holden dresses in a separate room with the mascots because there’s no room in the clubhouse?  Ryan Dunleavy will have more on that, I don’t want to give any more of that away than I have to.  But after today, Holden certainly seems to have earned his spot.

“The nerves were running for the first couple innings,” Holden said.

“I just settled in after that.  My second at-bat, we put a hit and run on, so I was ready to hit.  I hit a double, luckily.  I calmed down, the pressure was off.  It was just fun, that’s what it comes down to.”

— Justin Jones had quite the interesting outing.  He was pitching in and out of trouble all night, and it’s absolutely shocking that he didn’t give up any runs with all the baserunners he had on today.

“He was uglier than hell,” Lyle said.

“But the thing is, he did regroup enough to put a zero up there.  The last three innings, he was lights out.  That’s what we expect from him.  But he needs to be able to pitch like that from the first inning on.  You’re not going to get that lucky all the time.”

It was a battle for the former Nationals farmhand early on.

“In my first two outings, I’ve been my own worst enemy,” Jones said.

“It kind of started of the same way as those.  I wasn’t commanding my fastball, or any pitch.  Some guys got on early, and my focus was to just get command back of the strike zone and to keep it down in the zone, let the guys hit it and let my defense work.  A lot of luck came my way and I got out of those first two innings, and then we broke it open with the bats.  That took off a lot of pressure, it was a lot more comfortable after that.”

Lyle said Jones has to use less motion when he’s pitching out of the stretch, and thought that pitching Jones out of the stretch permanently could be an interesting idea.

“It probably would be a suggestion to him,” Lyle said.

“But I think in those first three innings, I don’t think it was going to make any difference.  You could see that he was getting closer and closer to what Brett’s been trying to tell him to do as the game went on.  But he got to 103 pitches, so we had to take him out.”

— Ryan Freel did not play in the second game due to possible food poisoning.  He felt up to playing four innings, but could not go nine.  He experienced some…ummm, nausea the night before.  Leave it at that.

— According to Lyle, Josh Pressley’s MRI did reveal some form of an issue with his back, but Pressley saw a chiropractor and is apparently feeling better.  His timetable for a return still seems unclear, however.

— Burke, by the way, is the backup catcher for the time being. 

“I haven’t caught in a while,” he said.

“I’ll be ready to go.  But hopefully (Belcher) will catch a lot more games than he wanted to.  But I’ll be there if he needs a day to give him a breather.  I’ll be fine.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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