TRENTON- Tyler Viza wasn’t pleased with his initial frame as he kicked off the second half of the season for the team with the best record in baseball. Shaking off a two-run home run with just one out in the contest, he would shut down 23 consecutive opposing batters to help the Reading Fightin Phils notch a 4-2 win over the Trenton Thunder.
Following a lead-off single to Tyler Wade in the 1st inning and a Dustin Fowler line out, third baseman Miguel Andujar launched a change up that was left up in the strike zone deep out to left field, giving Trenton a two-run lead.
For the next 7 2/3 innings, no other member of the Thunder lineup would reach base against Viza. The next 23 Trenton batters were retired in order.
The 21-year-old Viza would go eight innings, recording seven strike outs with no walks. He threw 66 of his 93 pitches for strikes.
“He was mixing his pitches well,” pitching coach Steve Schrenk stated. “I thought he pitched inside well tonight and kept their hitters off balance all night. The last couple of starts he’s been doing a really nice job for us.”
For Viza, who was drafted by the Phillies in the 32nd round in 2013, it was his third win in seven Double-A starts. The Arizona native credited his battery mate, promising prospect Jorge Alfaro, for assisting with executing their game plan after the difficult opening inning.
“Jorge and I were on the same page all night,” Viza said. “You know, our main focus was to pitch inside and get ahead early with these guys and try to put them away with my off-speed stuff. Later in the game, they started jumping first pitch fastball, so we kind of slowed it down, started going first pitch curve ball or change up. We went back inside, since they were cheating the fastball and it all worked out in the end.”
Viza joined Reading last month after enjoying considerable success in the Florida State League for Class A Advanced Clearwater. In nine starts for the Threshers, he sported a 6-2 record with a 2.54 ERA and a 10.03 K/9 mark.
Reading got their scoring started in the top of the 2nd, when designated hitter Jake Fox slugged a lead-off homer. Then KC Serna plated another run with a single and Andrew Pullin gave Reading a 3-2 lead with a run scoring ground out.
Alfaro got the Fightins an insurance run in the 9th inning with a clutch single that scored Angelo Mora.
The victory took took Reading’s record to 64-27 (.703 winning percent) on the season. They’ll continue their four-game series at Trenton with a 7PM contest on Friday.
Viza on if he would take more away from the positive aspects of this outing, or if he might dwell on the mistake in the first inning: “I mean you can’t be too high in this game. You can’t be too low. We’re definitely going to try to fix those mistakes, like I talked about, so that’s definitely one thing and I’m going to have to take the positives out of this game as well and keep moving forward with them.”
Viza on playing in the Eastern League: “It’s a lot of fun. I mean it’s baseball. I’m having fun playing the game that I love. You can’t beat it. There’s no job like it in the world. I’m definitely taking it one game at a time, one step at a time. I’m still pretty young and I definitely try to learn with every game I pitch.”
More from Schrenk speaking about Viza: “He’s always been a guy that goes out there and gives us a lot of innings and competes and that’s just what he does and he throws a lot of strikes. He keeps us in games and that’s what he does. He’s done that his whole career.”
Bonus! For fun or out of respect, the in-house Trenton Thunder score cards in the press box on Thursday had a very humorous reference to Reading’s place in the standings. See the embedded tweet below…
Jay Floyd (@PhoulBallz) July 15, 2016