Baseball Betsy and I saw a real good opening night game in Dunedin. The Threshers were down to their last out in the top of the ninth after singles by Maikel Franco and Cameron Perkins brought up Aaron Altherr representing the lead run. Down to his last strike, Altherr put the barrel of the bat on the ball and he drove it to deep center field only to be caught to end the game resulting in a 4-2 Thresher defeat to the Blue Jays to start the Florida State League season.
Lefty Hoby Milner started the game for the Threshers and pitched three strong innings. In fact I mentioned to my friend sitting next to me that he had a “no-no” going into the bottom of the fourth inning. On the very next pitch the Blue Jays batter line the ball over the left center field wall to give the Jays a 1-0 lead. Don’t ever mess with the baseball Gods and my friend never let me forget it the rest of the game. Milner, whose fastball sat in the 88-90 mph range and topped out at 91 once on the Dunedin scoreboard in his four and third innings, ran out of the gas in the fourth giving up three runs on six hits. No doubt the young 22 year old with the build of a slightly smaller version of Cole Hamels will be a key starter as he builds up arm strength as the season progresses.
Hitting wise, the Threshers had a hard time getting started off of the Blue Jays starter, Jesse Hernandez. He went six innings and had a sinker at the knees that kept the hitters either swinging over top or pounding the ball into the ground out. He struck out the first three Threshers he faced getting Kyrell Hudson, Carlos Alonso and Maikel Franco all on swinging third strikes. Later in the game key doubles by Harold Martinez off of Hernandez in fifth inning and Chris Seratelli off of Jays reliever Marco Grifantini in the seventh set up the two Threshers runs.
Defensively, the Threshers were outstanding with the strong arm of Logan Moore throwing out two runners at second; the speed of Hudson allowing him to lay out in center to take extra bases away from a Jays hitter late in the game and Franco, who with the infield up barehanded a slow bouncer to third. He threw in one motion to force out the runner at home with the bases loaded in the eight to keep the game at 4-2.
Even in defeat, we could see the makings of a good all around Threshers team based on opening night baseball in the Florida State League.