Blogs > Minor Matters

Run by The Trentonian's Nick Peruffo, this blog will provide daily multimedia coverage of the Trenton Thunder.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Andy Pettitte could lead off the Thunder rotation in the ELCS

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Are you ready for an encore?

Reports yesterday indicated that Andy Pettitte, who blew through the New Hampshire Fisher Cats Thursday night in Game 2 of the Eastern League Division Series, would make a second rehab start on Tuesday night.

After closing out New Hampshire last night, the Thunder open the Eastern League Championship Series Tuesday.

Triple-A Scranton would make sense, too. If they beat the Columbus Clippers, the Yankees would host Game 1 of the Governor’s Cup at PNC Field on Tuesday, making them a likely choice.

Another option for Pettitte that day would be in Tampa, where the T-Yanks would be in a decisive Game 5 against the Charlotte Stone Crabs (Tampa Bay) in the final round of the Florida State League playoffs.

No matter where he winds up, Pettitte will go five innings or 80 pitches, whichever comes first.

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Two of the Thunder’s best hitters down the stretch, including the first two games of the division series, were a pair of players who started the season in the Atlantic League — outfielder Justin Christian and catcher Rene Rivera.

Rivera’s recent impact has been obvious: His two longballs have accounted for two of the team’s three RBIs over the first 21 innings. The second shot, hit in the 12th inning on Thursday, gave the Thunder a walk-off win and a two-game lead heading on the road.

Even though Christian was promoted right before the playoffs, his white-hot bat played a big part in Trenton taking the division from New Hampshire.

From the start of August until he left for Scranton, Christian hit .352 with 11 doubles, two triples and 15 RBIs. He also hit six home runs, representing two thirds of his total during his 87 games with Trenton.

Both Christian and Rivera have major league experience, proving that, if it looks hard enough, an organization can still find serviceable, experienced talent outside of affiliated baseball.

The Thunder also plucked pitcher Paul Bush from the Atlantic League, but the Yankees released him shortly thereafter.

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Say what you want about the blown call at first last night costing the Fisher Cats a chance at a split heading home, but without a spectacular play from Luis Nunez at short in the third inning, New Hampshire would have taken the game in regulation.

With a runner on third, one out and the infield drawn in, Callix Crabbe slapped a ball hard up the middle. Nunez dove to his left, speared the ball, held the runner and retired Crabbe.

Pettitte recovered to get the next man, Darin Mastroianni, on a grounder to first, snuffing New Hampshire’s only real scoring threat.

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Left-hander Steve Garrison, who was signed by the Yankees yesterday to replace Wilkin De La Rosa on the 40-man roster, should be with the Thunder by Saturday.

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