We were fortunate to see another interesting game in our week’s trip through the Phillies farm system. This time it was the Reading Fightins and another ninth inning loss with the tying run in scoring position. It was good baseball but a 340 ft. First Energy Stadium add-on home run to left in the top of the eight inning provided Akron, the Cleveland Indians AA farm team, enough to hang on for a 4-3 win.
In April and May Reading could not be defeated in one-run games. They went 18-1 with shutdown relievers Ken Giles in April and Tyler Knigge in May providing the major part of the reason. Since they have moved on up, the Fightins suffered their fifth straight one-run loss in June. The Phillies recent success with a now shutdown bullpen shows just how important a bullpen is to winning baseball.
Baseball Betsy and I watched Jesse Biddle get off to a slow start on the mound but like a work horse he got stronger as the game went on. He finished with 106 pitches and a quality start giving up three runs including two homers and striking out five over seven innings. I had seen Jess pitch better two years ago in Clearwater with a more effective curve ball. His fastball sat at 89-91 mph and topped at 92 on the Reading scoreboard.
Colton Murray came on to pitch the last two innings and gave up a short 340 ft. chip shot that just made it over the wall in left which turned out to be the difference. Colton was firing harder that I have ever seen him if the pitch speed readings were accurate. The scoreboard had his fastball sitting at 93-94 topping at 95. The last time we saw him pitch his fastball was sitting at 92 on the Dunedin Blue Jays scoreboard in the Florida State League action.
The game was decided by a matter of a few feet either way. Both Carlos Alonso in the first and Albert Cartwright in the ninth inning hit home run distance foul balls down the left field line. Cartwright would gather himself after almost tying the game up with the long ball and singled to drive in Reading’s third run and extend his hitting streak to ten straight games.
It was good to see other former Clearwater Threshers from earlier in the season doing well in Reading. Not surprisingly, now a right fielder Pete Lavin has no trouble hitting the ball hard at AA as he doubled twice into the gaps. The Akron starter Joseph Colon’s fastball sat at 94-95 all night. The previous night, catcher Logan Moore went deep for his first home run at AA.
Now it’s time to get back on the plane and head back to St. Pete/Clearwater International Airport to get ready to finish our week’s journey through the Phillies farm system and its six stateside teams. We need to get back in time to see the opening of the Gulf Coast League tomorrow when the GCL Phillies take on the GCL Blue Jays at high noon in Dunedin. Tomorrow night the second half of the Florida State League gets into full swing as the Threshers take on the Dunedin Blue Jays at Bright House.
Hard to believe the Threshers will get a do over after their embarrassing first half record of 17-51 and finishing 28.5 games out of first. They did play .500 baseball over their last ten games so hope spring eternal for a competitive season.
Can’t wait to see Roman Quinn as a center fielder and the Phillies two most recent No. 1 draft picks, shortstop J.P. Crawford from last year and this year’s No. 1 pick pitcher Aaron Nola play in the same lineup.