Crushers shutout Thunderbolts 11-0
Rein throws second game in last three starts to lead Lake Erie
Tuesday night’s magic number was two.
Two, as in the second complete game shutout Crushers starter Matt Rein has thrown in his last three starts. Two, as in just two hits allowed by the Crushers dominant southpaw. Two, as in this game was essentially over in the second inning, as the Crushers beat the ThunderBolts 11-0. Rein picked up his fourth win as the Crushers improved to 18-21.
“The guy went out, and from the start of the game commanded his fastball, commanded his off-speed pitches, and just baffled them all game. They didn’t have an answer for him,” manager Jeff Isom said. “I consider him, kind of like a poor man’s Jamie Moyer out there. The guy just finds a way to get it done.”
Two, as in two phases of the game finally coming together for the Crushers in one complete effort: the great pitching with the great hitting.
“That’s the effort that we’ve been looking for,” Isom said. “It was nice to see both sides coming together and clicking, now we just got to make sure we try to do this again tomorrow.”
According to Rein, the effort came courtesy of an empower speech from the team’s owner, name, before the game.
“I just have to tip my hat off to him, because he has never lost after we have a meeting. He inspired that win today.”
Two, as in two Crushers’ players outplayed the entire Bolts’ lineup. While Rein was dominant on the mound, designated hitter Anderson Hidalgo powered the offense, going 5-for-5 with six RBIs.
“He’s an advanced hitter,” Isom said. “[He’s] a guy who’s been at a high level and seen some pretty good pitchers…comparable to what we’re seeing here.”
His RBI single in the second was the first strike in the offensive outburst, and would have been all Rein needed to win the game, but he wasn’t satisfied.
“Every time I came up to bat, I was just trying to help the team,” he said. “I got the first one, and then the next at bat I’m thinking I’m gonna get another one, and another one. I’m working for the team.”
Hidalgo came up to bat again in the third inning with the bases loaded and two outs, and smacked another single to center, driving in two to make it 3-0. That’s when Rein really began to settle in.
“As soon as they put up three runs, I was like alright, throw strikes. They made it easy. Incredibly easy,” Rein said.
But again, Hidalgo would come back for more. This time in the fifth inning, he delivered a two-run single to left to make it 5-0 Crushers. In the sixth, he contributed to the Crushers’ four-run rally with a run-scoring double down the left field line. That double gave him his sixth and final RBI.
The Crushers got three more runs in that inning. Max Casper drove in a run with a groundout. Daniel Bowmanadded an RBI single. Then came Hidalgo’s double, and Russ Moldenhauer finished the outburst with an RBI groundout.
The final two runs for the Crushers came in the seventh inning. After a leadoff walk from Seth Granger, Kevin Berard tripled two batters later, and possibly could have come all the way around for an inside the park homerun had Isom not held him up at third. Berard would come around to score after an error on the Bolts short stop, Miles Walding.
The Crusher offense was better on Tuesday night than it was over the entire three-game series in Traverse City prior to this home stand. The 11 runs and 13 were more than the team managed in all three games.
“I kept looking at that in like the fifth, sixth inning,” Isom said. “It’s good to see the guys bounce back and put all that behind us. Now all we can do is move forward from here.”
Granger’s walk in the seventh was the Crushers’ seventh on the day, a number that Isom said he was pleased with, as he has implored his hitters to look at more pitches and draw more walks. His team is last in the Frontier League in taking walks. Andrew Davis led the team with three on the night.
“It’s funny because I was just talking to him before the game started,” Isom said. “If you take a walk, it makes that pitcher work more on the mound, and in this league you’re gonna win a lot of games if you get to the bullpen in the fifth, sixth inning.
“Yeah, I like the seven tonight. Seven with one strikeout? Wow, that’s great.”
On the other side of the box score, Rein did not walk a single batter on the night. The hope is that Rein’s continued success will catch on with the rest of the starting rotation, but Rein downplayed that any of his teammate’s success would be because of his efforts.
“I don’t know if it’s gonna be because of that,” he said. “But I think we’re definitely starting to role as a staff. It just kinda keeps going.”
Isom wants to see that success starting tomorrow with Alex Kaminsky.
“I’ve always said hitting’s contagious, well, pitching can be too,” Isom said. “We’ve been riding the coattails of Rein, and riding the coattails of Middendorf. We need to get Smith going, we got to get Kaminsky going. Kaminsky has to answer the bell and put up zeroes. It’s a big start for Kaminsky.”
Just as important to Isom is seeing his team get back to and above the .500 mark
“We gotta make up some ground. It’s no secret. What we’ve done, being under .500, it’s unacceptable. If we don’t make up ground, it’s gonna be time for change.”
Kaminsky (2-4, 5.35) will be opposed by Daniel Cropper (2-5, 4.93) on the mound on Wednesday, as the Crushers try to win their second in a row and take the series from the Bolts.