TRENTON – Thunder pitcher Domingo Acevedo was asked by the media on Tuesday afternoon if he had any reservations about pitching in the expected cold temperatures that he would likely face on opening night at ARM & HAMMER Park. The 24-year old Dominican native jokingly admitted then that he enjoys pitching in cooler conditions, ideally between 40-45 degrees, because he sweats so much while giving maximum effort out on the mound.
With a gusty wind blowing in off of the Delaware River, Acevedo was in his comfort zone as he toed the rubber against the Richmond Flying Squirrels to a 44 degree first pitch on Thursday night.
‘I like pitching in the cold,” admitted Acevedo following his start on Thursday. “It was my first time pitching in the cold in a long time. I’m happy with my outing and everyday improving my pitching and my delivery.”
Both Acevedo and Squirrels starter Cory Taylor matched scoreless opening frames before Richmond drew first blood on a two-run homer off the bat of left fielder Dylan Davis to give them a 2-0 advantage.
Acevedo found himself in trouble in the sixth inning after issuing a leadoff walk Ronnie Jebavy and surrendering a one out single to catcher Aramis Garcia. Right at the 80-pitch mark, Jay Bell trotted to the mound to pull his starter in favor of right-hander Erik Swanson. Acevedo tossed 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on three hits while walking three and striking out four.
“In the first two innings, my fastball command was not very good,” said Acevedo. “I started to use my slider and my fastball command got better after that.”
“The mindset there doesn’t change a whole lot,” Swanson said. “I was ready to get out there and start the season off on a good note, and we did. Our whole team played really well today and the success that I had on the mound today was a step in the right direction.”
There was seemingly nothing cooking for the Thunder in the seventh, first baseman Chris Gittens stroked a two-out double to right field and advanced to third base on a wild pitch. Amburgey then grounded to third base for what should have been an inning ending put out, but Arenado spiked the throw to Sands at first base which allowed Gittens to score and put the Thunder ahead 3-2.
One batter later, third baseman Billy Fleming crushed a two-run homer over the left field wall to give the Thunder a commanding 5-2 lead. Swanson went the distance to preserve the 5-2 Thunder win, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit while fanning six to pick up the victory in his Double-A debut.
“It is always nice to get that first win,” said Bell. “The guys really responded and played fantastic baseball. I think seven of our nine guys got hits tonight; it’s always tough to get that first hit. Acevedo threw great, and so did Swanson.”