After being out, then
in, then out of the lineup on Friday, first baseman Tyler Austin was not a part
of the Thunder’s starting lineup on Saturday. This was because of an ankle that’s
been sore enough all postseason to require an MRI.
If it gets there, he won’t be in
Sunday’s starting lineup either. He’s done for the postseason barring an
emergency appearance as a pinch-hitter.
After being re-inserted on Friday,
Austin went for a pre-game jog and felt the same pain in the ankle he’d been
dealing with since he arrived in Trenton. He re-aggravated the injury jumping
for a ball on Wednesday in Akron.
“We got him out of the lineup
because we think that’s best for his career,” manager Tony Franklin said.
doesn’t make any sense to get him in there for one game and risk him hurting
his career. We’ve got time to wait on this youngster. In my judgment and in
(trainer Scott DiFrancesco’s) judgment and in the Yankees’ judgment, it was
best that we get him out of the lineup.”
Austin’s injury leaves the
Thunder with a bench of just two players: Catcher Jeff Farnham and outfielder
Shane Brown. Neither Brown nor Farnham have played at all in the postseason.
For a brief moment on Friday, it
appeared as if they might have to do it with less.
After a single in the fifth
inning, Franklin and DiFrancesco visited at first base with Adonis Garcia, who
had complained of dizziness. Everything checked out, however, and Garcia stayed
It’s not an ideal situation, to
be sure, but Franklin isn’t panicking.
“We’ve done it with less,” he
said. “As long as we’ve got one man on that bench, we’ve got enough. The fact that
we’ve got two men on the bench, that doesn’t bother me, at all.”
Without question, Branden Pinder’s
magic act in the sixth inning on Thursday was the relief performance of the
postseason. Not that there haven’t been plenty of worthy candidates.
Pinder also got the biggest out
in Game 2 of the Division Series, when he coaxed a short fly ball from Reading
bogeyman Darin Ruf with a man on first and Trenton up by three runs.
Lee Hyde’s pickoff of Ruf in Game
3 of the ELDS – after Ruf was intentionally passed to get to Tug Hulett – also
stands as one of the biggest moments of the playoffs.
As a whole, Trenton’s bullpen has
been superb. In 32 innings, the team’s relievers have allowed a scant four runs
on 22 hits and 13 walks and have fanned 31 – including 11 in six frames from Mark
Those numbers become more
impressive when one realizes that David Aardsma – who’s made three rehab outings
with the Thunder this postseason – has given up two of those four scores. They
also include 5 2/3 one-hit innings from Shaeffer Hall – normally a starter – in
relief of Aardsma in Game 2 of the ELDS.
Aardsma, working his way back
from Tommy John surgery to repair a torn elbow ligament suffered while
rehabbing a hip injury, was scheduled for his final appearance on Saturday. He
was slated to throw one inning or 25 pitches, whichever came first.
Saturday’s appearance was the
second of back-to-back outings, usually the final step before returning to the
major leagues. In four innings with the Thunder this postseason, Aardsma’s
allowed two runs – both earned – on six hits and three walks and struck out
two. Friday marked his first 1-2-3 inning with Trenton.
In the five minor-league outings
before he arrived with Trenton, Aardsma worked to a 2.70 ERA in 6 2/3 combined
frames in the Gulf Coast League, Staten Island and Tampa.
Win or lose, Zoilo Almonte has
helped make this ELCS one for the record books. With his 10 RBIs over the first
three games, Almonte eclipsed Austin Jackson’s mark of seven driven in, set
during the 2008 finals with the Aeros.
Almonte’s five RBIs on Friday
broke the team’s overall postseason mark of three, last reached by outfielder
Matt Carson on Sept. 15, 2007, once again against Akron.