TRENTON, NJ- Jesse Biddle thrived in his home away from home to turn in a strong outing and help the Reading Fightins (34-29) lock down an 8-2 win in their series opener against the Trenton Thunder (35-29) on Tuesday night.
The left-hander threw 7 2/3 innings, allowed two runs, one of those earned, while striking out four and walking one to notch a win and help move his team within a half game of the second place Thunder and 1 1/2 games behind the division leading New Britain Rock Cats in the Double-A Eastern League Eastern division.
Biddle, the Phillies’ first round draft choice from 2010, is from nearby Philadelphia and has a following of loved ones whenever he takes the mound at Trenton’s Arm & Hammer Park.
“Every time I come here, the first thing I do is write names down on the pass list,” Biddle said with a smile. “It’s a lot of fun to have people come to the game and cheer me on, especially when we’re on the road. That’s definitely a good feeling. I can’t thank the people in my life enough for everything they do for me.”
The effort by Biddle took his season record to 6-1 and brought his ERA to a solid 3.90.
“This was the best outing of the year for Jesse. Command was there, breaking ball, slider, he was throwing everything for strikes,” said interim team manager Mickey Morandini, who is filling in for vacationing skipper Dusty Wathan.
Despite a gleaming stat line of late (three wins, no losses, 2.45 ERA in his last five starts), the 23-year-old isn’t interested in his own numbers. With his club in a playoff hunt and relying on him, the only numbers that Biddle is concerned with are the ones under “W” in the standings.
“I think it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers and it’s easy to get caught up in the strike outs and the walks. I really just am starting to measure my performances on how I feel and whether or not, when I left the game, were we winning. My job when I go to the park, when I pitch, is to get the team a W. That is it! It doesn’t matter whether I get the win, it just matters if we get the win,” Biddle asserted.
The Fightins’ offense broke the game open on Trenton hurler Caleb Smith, plating six runs in the 7th frame. The barrage was led by catcher Rene Garcia, who knocked in two with a bases loaded single and shortstop J.P. Crawford who laced a two-run double.