AKRON, Ohio – By winning on
Sunday, the Thunder gave themselves a sizeable advantage entering the Eastern
League Championship. That advantage is a perfectly set rotation, starting
Tuesday with 13-game winner Brett Marshall in Game 1.
be opposed by Paolo Espino, the de facto number-one on a staff depleted by the
loss of lefty Giovanni Soto and knuckleballer Steven Wright. In 20 starts in
the regular season, Espino was 7-3 with a 3.09 ERA and a team-best 106
follow with Shaeffer Hall, Mikey O’Brien and Nik Turley, the latter of whom
pitched five solid innings to close out Reading on Sunday. Because of the
travel day on Thursday, Trenton can also bring Marshall back in a possible
fifth game. They wouldn’t have had that luxury if they had played Bowie.
counter with righty Danny Salazar on Wednesday, followed by Carlos Carrasco,
Toru Murata and Brett Brach at Waterfront Park. Carrasco, who is on a major
league rehab assignment, will pitch just one inning on Friday before turning
things over to T.J. House.
Trenton’s resident rehabbing righty, will pitch twice in the series, though it
is unclear in which games.
The Thunder and
Aeros split their season series at six games apiece. Trenton took three of four
in the teams’ last meeting, last month at Canal Park.
As it was last
series, the biggest key to Trenton scoring its third championship will be a
deep and talented bullpen. Of the 10 runs the Thunder surrendered in the
division series, just was charged to a reliever – Aardsma in Game 4.
the pen features two arms – Craig Heyer and Graham Stoneburner – capable of multiple-inning
work, as well as plenty of late-inning heat in Tommy Kahnle, Branden Pinder,
Mark Montgomery and closer Ryan Pope.
Franklin also will have lefties Lee Hyde and Josh Romanski at his disposal. In
addition to his repertoire, Hyde also brings a lethal pickoff move that he used
to snuff out Darin Ruf at first in one of the most pivotal moments of the last
After its last
roster overhaul, Trenton is without a few of the hitters who’ve faced Akron
this season. Of those who remain, catcher J.R. Murphy leads the way with 6 hits
in 16 trips. Adonis Garcia, with his .317 average against the Aeros, isn’t far
behind. Kevin Mahoney also notched 10 hits versus the Western Division
championships in 2007 and 2008 came against Akron. Starting Tuesday, they’ll
see if they can make it three.