Top 10 Games of the Year - No. 1
No. 1 - Banuelos, bats shine in ELDS clincher
RECAP: After two dramatic wins over the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Eastern League Division Series, the set moved to Merchantsauto.com Stadium, where there were a few tricks waiting for the Thunder.
Scott Richmond, the scheduled starter for Game 4, was moved up a day. Edwin Encarnacion, who, like Richmond, came with MLB service time, was plugged into the starting lineup. Both moves were widely construed as retaliation for Andy Pettitte starting in Game 2, though that was never confirmed or stated publicly.
Manny Banuelos, in his first start of the year without a pitch count, was called upon to finish off the Cats and send Trenton into its third ELCS in four seasons.
At just 19 years old, he delivered.
His line, seven shutout innings on five hits, three walks and five punchouts, was impressive enough, but it was stuffed he used that really jumped out.
The stadium gun kept flashing 86 and 87 for his fastball, which I found odd. It made more sense when some local writers told me that their radar was consistently five miles per hour slow. So when those 86s and 87s turned into 91s and 92s toward the later innings, it looked like Banuelos had found his groove.
While Trenton arms silencing New Hampshire throughout the series had become commonplace, the offensive explosion the team produced was certainly out of the ordinary.
Austin Krum, Dan Brewer and Marcos Vechionacci each doubled, and Rene Rivera and Damon Sublett both popped a longball as part of the Thunder's 14-hit outburst that fueled an eventual 8-1 win and set them up for a date in Altoona.
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“These would be hard to top. These would be hard to top,” he said, “especially with the youngsters that we have and the newness on the pitching staff that we’ve got assembled here now.” -- Tony Franklin, calling the ELDS the three most complete games he's seen in his four years with Trenton
AFTERWARD: Andy Pettitte started for the Thunder in the team's Game 1 win in the ELCS, but that would be their last win of the year. Altoona won the next three, and celebrated their first championship at Waterfront Park.