Estrada cycles to help Thunder even series

Yankees No. 18 prospect plates three runs to tie semis at 1-1

Thairo Estrada is hitting .293 with 13 RBIs in 18 career playoff games across four levels. (Lynn Chadwick/

By Kelsie Heneghan / | September 8, 2017 12:58 AM

As soon as Thairo Estrada saw his ball get out of the infield in the ninth inning Thursday, he wanted to secure a double to complete the cycle.

"Whether I was out or not, I was going to make it second base," he said through translator Lino Diaz, Double-A Trenton's defensive coach.

Video: Estrada cycles for the Thunder

The Yankees No. 18 prospect reached second safely for his first career cycle as the Thunder topped the Rumble Ponies, 9-6, at NYSEG Stadium to even the best-of-5 Eastern League semifinals at a game apiece.

2017 Minor League milestones

"I'm very happy, very happy to be able to accomplish that," he said. "But I am even happier because we got the win."

Even before his first at-bat of the game, Estrada felt locked in and very well prepared. And it showed right away. The 21-year-old slapped an RBI single to center field in the first and raced for a leadoff triple to center in the third. After grounding out to short in the fourth, Estrada slapped a homer to left-center to start the sixth.

Box score

"My focus was to hit the ball in the gaps, hit the ball up the middle and so that's what I was looking to do," he said. "I was happy to accomplish that."

Knowing he was a double away from the cycle, Estrada stepped up in the seventh with one on and two outs. But instead of the knock, the Venezuela native got plunked by Mets No. 25 prospect P.J. Conlon. At that point, Estrada was just hoping he could get another at-bat.

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Fortunately for him, the Thunder kept hitting and Estrada came to the plate with one on and two out in the ninth. Out of the box, the No. 2 hitter originally just wanted to bring in a run, but once he saw the ball get past a diving Matt Oberste at first base, he knew the double was in reach as well. He ended up accomplishing both goals.

"When I saw the ball go down the right-field line, I said, I got to go for this," he said. "It was a great feeling, when I got to second base on that double, [my teammates] were all yelling from the dugout and they were clapping. And when I came in, they were very happy for me."

MiLB include

The cycle -- the third such feat in Trenton history -- was particularly meaningful for Estrada and the Thunder given the passing of former Yankees manager and executive Gene "Stick" Michael, who played an integral role in the development of the farm system over the past few decades.

"We know who he is and what he's done for the Yankees and what he represented for the organization," Estrada said. "So we were glad to be able to play the game the way we did it and achieve the things that we did [Thursday] because of what he meant for the organization. Definitely something that we can say, 'Hey, we did it in honor of him.'"

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James Reeves (1-0) allowed a run on two hits and a walk in 1 1/3 innings. Colten Brewer fanned two as he retired the final four batters in order for the save.

The series moves to Trenton with Game 3 set for 7 p.m. ET on Friday.

Kelsie Heneghan is a contributor to Follow her on Twitter @Kelsie_Heneghan. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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