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Eastern League Playoff Preview
Round 1: Trenton Thunder vs. Binghamton Mets
09/03/2013 2:22 PM ET
 

First Place Binghamton Mets
(86-55, won division by 12 games over Trenton)
vs.
Second Place Trenton Thunder

(74-67, won wild card by 5.5 games over NH)

HOME PITCHING MATCHUPS:

Game 1- Wednesday, September 4th 
Trenton RHP Bryan Mitchell (0-0, 1.93)
vs. Binghamton RHP Noah Syndergaard (6-1, 3.00)

Mitchell's last start of the regular season was against New Britain in which he went 7.1 innings and allowed one unearned run on four hits while striking out 10. The 10 strikeouts were a season high for a Thunder pitcher and the 7.1 innings matched a season high for a Thunder pitcher. The 10 K/0 BB game was just the third of its kind thrown by a Thunder starting pitcher since 2005 and the first since Ryan Pope on August 7, 2009 (11 K/0 BB in 8.0 IP).
 

Game 2- Thursday, September 5th 
Trenton RHP Mikey O'Brien (7-8, 4.12)
vs. Binghamton LHP Darin Gorski (6-1, 1.83)


O'Brien is hitting the postseason by blowing batters away of late. He has struck out 35 batters in his last 28.2 innings (11.0 K/9) after striking out just 8 in his previous 15.1 innings pitched (4.7 K/9). He has not fared well against Binghamton this season though and is 1-3 with an 8.66 ERA against them in four starts, compared to being 6-3 with a 3.02 ERA in his 15 starts against other teams.
 

HEAD TO HEAD: The Thunder and Binghamton Mets faced each other 17 times in the regular season with the Thunder going 7-10 in those games (2-3 at home, 5-7 on the road). 


PLAYERS TO WATCH - BINGHAMTON:
Allan Dykstra, 1B: The newly-minted Eastern League MVP has split time between first base and being Binghamton's designated hitter this season. In 122 games, he has batted .274 with 21 home runs (T-5th in E.L.) and 82 RBI (4th). The lefty slugger has also walked 102 times (1st) for an on-base percentage of .436 (1st). In 16 games against Trenton thought this season, Dykstra has been kept mostly in-check with a .217 AVG (10-for-46) and just one homer.
 
Jeff Walters, RP: Walters led the Eastern League this season by converting 38 of his 42 save opportunities (90.5%). His 38 saves were 12 more than the next closest reliever in the league, and were the second most in league history-falling short of only Brent Stentz' 43 for New Britain in 1998. Despite being dominant all season, one of Walters' four blown saves this season did come against the Thunder on June 6th at NYSEG Stadium in Binghamton.
 
Noah Syndergaard, SP: Syndergaard was acquired by the New York Mets in the offseason from the Toronto Blue Jays as part of the trade that landed the Blue Jays reigning NL Cy Young winner, R.A. Dickey. The 20-year old began the season with Port St. Lucie (High-A) of the Florida State League before making his Double-A debut on June 23rd. He gave up 11 runs (nine earned) in 3.0 innings in his final start of the regular season, but in his first 10 Double- A starts, Syndergaard was 6-0 with a 1.59 ERA (12 ER in 51.0 IP) and 64 K (11.3 K/9) with opponents hitting just .202 against him. In two starts this season against Trenton, the righty fireballer whose fastball can touch 99 MPH is 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA (2 ER in 11.0 IP), 17 K and the Thunder are hitting just 5-for-39 (.128 BAA) off him.
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH - TRENTON: 
Ramon Flores, OF: Flores has been a steadying force atop the Thunder lineup. The 21-year old was the No. 12 prospect in the New York Yankees system according to Baseball America prior to the season, and he has knack for wearing down pitchers with long at-bats before getting a pitch he wants to hit. In his final six games of the regular season, he hit 12-for-23 (.522 AVG) with two doubles, two triples, a home run, nine runs, five RBI and four walks (.593 OBP).
 
Shane Greene, SP: Greene enters the post-season off the best start of his Double-A career. He tossed a seven-inning complete-game shutout of the Portland Sea Dogs in Saturday's 8-0 win that clinched the East Division Wild Card. In that ballgame, Greene went the distance on 84 pitches (56 strikes) while allowing just three hits and striking out five. In 14 appearances (13 starts) with the Thunder, he is 8-4 with a 3.18 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 79.1 innings. He is scheduled to start Game 3 at Binghamton.
 
Francisco Rondon, RP: Rondon has had a roller-coaster season which saw him get removed from the Yankees 40-man roster at the end of May when he was 2-3 with a 7.46 ERA (29 ER in 35.0 IP) and was designated for assignment. In 19 appearances since then, he is 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA (4 ER in 40.2 IP), a .134 BAA and 54 K. In fact, he has been even better lately, where opponents are just 3-for-their-last-39 (.078 BAA) and will be a big factor in maintaining late leads in Trenton's playoff run.


HOME COOKING: Trenton finished the season with the best home winning percentage in the Eastern League (43-27, .614). The Thunder finished 16 games above .500 at ARM & HAMMER Park despite playing 9-games-below-.500 baseball away from Trenton.

 
COMEBACK: Tyler Austin returned to play in the final series of the regular season at Portland after having last appeared in a Thunder game on July 12th @ New Britain (missed 47 games due to right wrist injury). In his very first at-bat Saturday, he laced an RBI double to left-center field to score Gary Sanchez from first base and give Trenton a 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning. In two games since coming off the DL he is 3-for-8 (.375) with two 2B, RBI and a run scored.

 
WELL-CHARTED TERRITORY: The Thunder have made the Eastern League playoffs for the second consecutive season, and 7th time in the past 9 years. Under manager Tony Franklin, Trenton has reached the playoffs in five of his seven years including winning the franchise's first two Eastern League Championships in 2007 and 2008. In the first four times that Trenton reached the post-season under Franklin, they have won the East Division Championship Series and advanced to the Eastern League Championship Series.


ONLY ONE YEAR AGO: Trenton made the postseason in 2012 after taking the East Division title with a 79-63 record. In the post-season last year the Thunder defeated the Reading Phillies 3-games-to-1 in the Eastern Division Finals before advancing to the Eastern League Championship where they lost to the Akron Aeros 3-games-to-1.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.
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