A day after defeating the Altoona Curve in the series opener at home, the Trenton Thunder looked to continue their solid play Wednesday night. Manny Banuelos, the once-heralded top Yankees prospect, looked to continue building on a season spent shaking off the post-Tommy John surgery rust. After two perfect innings by Banuelos, including three strikeouts, things were looking good.
Banuelos came to the mound in the top of the third inning with a 1-0 lead, thanks to a solo home run by recently promoted first baseman Greg Bird. He gave up that lead in the third, however, when Altoona DH Jarek Cunningham matched Bird with a solo home run of his own. Banuelos came out in the fourth inning, looking to keep the Thunder and Curve tied at one each, but it was not to be. Altoona right fielder Josh Bell led off the inning with a single up the middle, and the Curve’s cleanup hitter, third baseman Stetson Allie followed him with a two-run home run to center field. After getting two outs, a single by Curve center fielder Keon Broxton knocked Banuelos out of the game. Lefty Francisco Rodon came in to get Cunningham to pop up to Austin to end the inning. Rodon would throw 2.1 innings, with two strikeouts, one walk, and no hits allowed.
The Thunder tried to make up ground in the bottom of the fourth. After two quick outs, they loaded the bases thanks to a Tyler Austin walk, and Greg Bird single, and a Dan Fiorito walk. However, number seven hitter, Thunder catcher Francisco Arcia couldn’t bring any of them home, ending the inning with a pop fly to left fielder Willy Garcia. The Thunder would get one run back in the fifth inning thanks to a RBI single by center fielder Ben Gamel that scored shortstop Ali Castillo. The Thunder would then tie the game in the sixth inning with another solo shot by Greg Bird, his second home run of the day.
The top of the seventh would see the Double-A debut of the Yankees top 2014 draft pick, second rounder Jacob Lindgren. The lefty reliever would allow a single to shortstop Gift Ngoepe, but the other three batters he faced all struck out swinging. This brings Lindgren’s season totals to 33 strikeouts, 4 walks, 7 hits, and a 0.63 ERA in 14.1 innings pitched across three levels. With the Washington Nationals claiming Matt Thorton off waivers, there is a strong possibility Lindgren sees the Bronx this year, becoming the first 2014 draftee to make it to the big leagues
The Thunder would retake the lead in the bottom of the seventh, as a Jake Cave triple scored Case Stevenson. They would make the score 5-3 on a Gary Sanchez double that brought in Cave. Big-armed righty Dan Burawa would come in the top of the eight and hold the Curve scoreless, throwing a perfect inning with a strikeout. The Thunder offense wasn’t done for the night, however, and added two more runs to their lead in the eighth inning. Greg Bird hit a lead-off double, moved to third on a Fiorito single, and scored on an Arcia single to center. Casey Stevenson then grounded into a fielder’s choice that scored Fiorito. Lefty strikeout artist James Pazos would come in to close the game in the eight inning, matching Burawa’s one strikeout perfect inning.
Final score: Trenton Thunder 7, Altoona Curve 3
Player of the game: Greg Bird: 4 PA, 4 H, 1 2B, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI