Ian Clark on Baseball: Young arms to square off at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium
MANCHESTER -- PERHAPS the only two players unaware of a big pitching matchup are the pitchers themselves.
When the New Hampshire Fisher Cats and Bowie Baysox meet today at 12:05 p.m. at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium, the top pitchers for each team will be on the mound. Sean Nolin (7-3) will go for New Hampshire while Mike Wright (9-2) toes the rubber for Bowie.
For the hurlers themselves, worrying about the other starter isn't a priority.
"It doesn't really matter who is pitching on the other side," Wright said. "If it's someone that's good, you do know it, but it doesn't really affect how you pitch."
"You've got to throw your own game. If he does really good or really bad you've still got to do your best," Nolin said. "It's kind of pointless to worry about the other guy."
Nolin and Wright do have a connection, however. On a recent road trip to Bowie, Nolin went to dinner with Baysox pitcher Clay Schrader. Nolin and Schrader were college teammates at San Jacinto in Texas. Schrader brought some Bowie teammates along, among them Wright.
Wright (3.59 ERA) and Nolin (2.94 ERA) have also had similar seasons, with consistent, strong pitching marred by a brief bump in the road.
Nolin earned a call-up to Toronto in May and was roughed up for six runs in an inning and a third. As MLB debuts go, it wasn't one you want in the clipbook, but the 23-year-old Nolin has handled himself well in the mental aspect of the game.
"That's always a big part of anyone's game. I'm always looking to improve that just as much as the regular part of the game," Nolin said. "I'm feeling a lot better than in the past as I get a little more mature and get older."
Nolin will be looking to get back on track after losing to Altoona on July 25 and pitching an eventual no-decision at Bowie last week. He had a stretch of three games and 19 2/3 innings of shutout ball in early July.
"It's been a really good season so far. I got the call-up earlier. There was a good stretch of three or four starts where I did good and felt good," Nolin said. "I had a few games that didn't go how I wanted them to, but you've got to get through those and get back on the good path."
As for Wright, his season had one minor rough patch where he lost two games (his only two losses) in June. Since then, he's won three of his last five starts and allowed two runs or fewer each time.
The 23-year-old Wright is also trying to learn how to manage the mental ups and downs of pro baseball.
"It's gone pretty good. Overall, I would say I've had a positive season so far. I'm trying to keep going and finish off really strong. I had a bad month and I tried not to let it bother me as much as I have in the past," Wright said. "I felt like that was the reason I came back and have kept it a positive season instead of continuing that bad streak."
Staff writer Ian Clark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.