Will Morris made his Clearwater Threshers’ debut against the Charlotte Stone Crabs and Tampa Bay’s #2 prospect and MLB’s #42 prospect, RHP Brent Honeywell. Morris accounted for himself well with 5.0 shutout innings. Neither starter figured into the decision as both teams featured sharp pitching and improved defense. The game swung on a passed ball in the eighth inning. Nevertheless, Morris and bullpen mates Matt Hockenberry and Jesen Therrien pitched very well this evening.
Morris has a 4-pitch mix that includes a FastBall, CUtter, Change Up, and Curve Ball. For the second consecutive night, a Threshers’ pitcher mixed his pitches and velocity well and got a lot of weak contact. Morris pitched to contact a little more this evening, but got eight called strikes and seven swinging strikes. His three strike outs came on pitches of 83 mph (swinging), 91 mph (looking), and 77 mph (swinging).
The bulk of Morris’ FB fell within 88-91 mph, although he touched 92 twice and 93 once. All four singles he allowed came on FB – three at 90 and one at 92 mph (the hardest hit of the four).
Morris’ line was 5.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 83 pitches, 53 strikes.
The defense was much improved tonight. Maybe the drills the coaches ran the team through an hour before the game paid dividends. Although a mental lapse late in the game probably cost the team a win.
The offense was stymied by Brent Honeywell. He has a mid-90s FB and sat comfortably 93-95 mph all night. He has several off-speed pitches, a couple show as average or better and kept the Threshers hitters off balance most of the game. Sometimes they looked over-matched, occasionally they were able to tee off on a pitch.
Carlos Tocci drove a double over the center fielder’s head in the first inning. Mitch Walding ground a hard single back thru the middle. Cord Sandberg lined a single to left. Kingery drove a double off the left field wall. Unfortunately, a Mitch Walding home run was the only hit the Threshers would manage against the Snow Crabs’ bullpen.
Hockenberry pitched 2.0 innings of one-hit relief with 1 K. He became the pitcher of record when Mitch Walding greeted Honeywell’s replacement with a well-struck, towering, solo home run to the right field berm.
Hockenberry’s line was 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 24 pitches, 17 strikes, FB 91-93 mph.
Therrien came on to close out the game and retired the Snow Crabs 1-2-3 in the eighth inning. Whoa! Wait a minute! The inning-ending strike out came on a FB wide of the plate. Catcher Gabriel Lino reached feebly across his body and missed the pitch. He rose slowly (like maybe he thought it was called a ball) and retreated to retrieve the ball while the batter raced to first, beating Lino’s late throw. Initaially it was scored a wild pitch. Two pitches later, the Crabs took advantage of the extra batter and took the lead on a 2-run HR.
Therrien struck out the next batter to end the eighth, and struck out two more in the ninth. But the damage was done. The Threshers couldn’t get the run back against the Snow Crabs’ closer, Brandon Koch, who recorded 6 outs for the save.
Therrien’s line was 2.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 46 pitches, 30 strikes, FB 92-94 mph.
Before the end of the game, the official scorer changed the ruling on the wild pitch to a passed ball on Lino. All of us up on the media level thought that a passed ball was the correct call.
The box score and recap for the games are here.
Extra Innings –
- Walding’s HR was his third of the season. Earlier in the game he singled for his first non-extra base hit of the season.
- Charlotte has a pretty good catcher in Nick Ciuffo. He picked Walding off second to take the Threshers out of a scoring chance in the second.
- Kyle Martin was caught stealing in a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play to end the fourth inning. Lino swung thru a 3-2 pitch and Martin was a dead duck.
- I spotted Ray Burris tonight. The Phillies have video guys taking film of their pitchers from the TV room directly behind home plate. Burris was in the adjacent Phillies Suite watching the game. He also thought the earlier discussed pitch was a passed ball. End of discussion.
- One of Morris’ pitches registered 98 on the gun. The gun then cycled thru several random numbers down as low as 58 before settling in at 84 for the next pitch. I opted to ignore this reading.
- A similar spasm occurred after one of Honeywell’s pitches registered 101. The gun cycled up to 104 and 108 before dropping down into the 50s and registering a mid-90 for the next pitch. At first I thought he broke it with the plus-99 reading.