SeaWolves 2, Senators 1 (12)
• For most of his outing, Taylor Hill danced with the devil in the pale moonlight as the righthander allowed baserunners in every one of his six innings. In fact, the SeaWolves put six players in scoring position off of Hill, but could only produce one unearned run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning. Hill scattered five hits, walked two, and struck out a pair. But for the eighth time in 12 starts the Senators failed to score more than two runs in support of Hill.
• Matt Grace has not been good lately. Since August 1st, the southpaw has struggled to a 6.59 ERA and hitters are batting .407 off him in 11 appearances. But when the Senators needed it, Grace stepped up and threw 2.1 scoreless innings to bridge the gap into the ninth inning.
• Conventional wisdom says that in two playoff games on the road, teams are just looking to get one win before they head home. The best team in the Eastern League, the Binghamton Mets, would agree with that as Trenton held serve at Arm & Hammer Park in their playoff series. So, for the Senators to come back to Metro Bank Park without facing three straight elimination games has to be viewed solely as a positive. Manager Matt LeCroy said, “I feel good about it. Felt that game yesterday was a big game for us. I like our chances at home. It’s always nice to get that last at-bat. Hope the fans come out. I think it will be a fun time for everybody.”
• With the game tied at 1 in the ninth, Brian Goodwin led off the inning with a single up the middle. Steven Souza strode to the plate with a chance to be the hero for the second straight day. Things looked even more promising for the Senators when Erie reliever Tyler Stohr threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt at first. That quickly changed though when Goodwin got greedy and tried to get to third on the miscue and was thrown out for the first out of the inning. Why? Goodwin is fast enough to score from second on almost any hit. The biggest run producers this team has are up at the plate and in the on-deck circle. It was yet another mistake on the basepaths for the speedy centerfielder in a season of them.
• Speedster Billy Burns only got on base once on Thursday night and it was to lead off the 11th inning. A perfect opportunity for Burns to test Erie catcher James McCann and get himself into scoring position, right? Everyone at Jerry Uht Park knew he was going, the only question was when. The answer was not soon enough. Burns waited until the seventh pitch of Goodwin’s at-bat to take off. Sure, he made it safely to put himself into scoring position but that seventh pitch was also a fastball that Goodwin swung through for strike three. If Burns goes earlier in the count, Goodwin would have had a chance to advance him to third with one out. Instead, Burns could only tag and go to third, and not home, on Steven Souza’s fly ball to rightfielder Jamie Johnson.
• I’ve been railing about it on Twitter, but the umpiring has seemed to get progressively worse as the season has worn on. In retrospect, I’m surprised Game 1 was relatively incident-free. Clearly, Game 2 wasn’t. Lest you think I’m a homer, Nick Lentz blew a call at third base in the bottom of the eighth when Ramon Cabrera slid under the tag of Carlos Rivero. For both sides, the strike zone became an issue the later the game went on as Joe Born kept shrinking what he would call a strike. And last but not least, Born’s call of runner interference on Ricky Hague in the top of the 12th warrants some sort of hand slap from the league. I’ve embedded a slow-motion shot of Hague running to first. Born was clearly wrong on two counts: Hague never took one single step that wasn’t in the basepath and when the ball hit him he had already touched first.