This year has been nothing short of magical for Double-A Trenton. The Yankees affiliate tied its own record with 92 wins in a season, won the Eastern League’s Eastern Division and on Thursday night saw infielder Thairo Estrada hit for the cycle against Binghamton in Game Two of the Division Series.
On Friday, they topped all of that.
Thanks to a late scoring change of a hit to an error on Thunder third baseman Dante Bichette Jr., Trenton made history with a combined no-hitter between lefthander Justus Sheffield and righthander Taylor Widener.
Sheffield threw the first four innings, and Widener tossed the final five to complete the feat. They combined for two walks and 10 strikeouts.
Widener was added from high Class A Tampa on Tuesday morning and was making his first Double-A appearance.
“I hadn’t seen him before, but we have videos,” Trenton pitching coach Jose Rosado said. “He looked great. This kid threw strikes and didn’t surprise me because we saw it on video and (Tampa pitching coach) Tim Norton has done a great job with him in A-ball.”
A scout at the game said Widener, the Yankees’ 12th-round pick out of South Carolina in 2016, sat 93-94 mph and touched 96 with his fastball. He struck out Binghamton’s Matt Oberste with a slider to end the game. Overall, he struck out seven and faced one over the minimum in five innings.
“I wasn’t really nervous. I just went out there and did what I did all year. I didn’t hear about (the no-hitter) until after the game. I was wondering and I had to double-think to see if we’d clinched or not,” Widener, who had never been part of a no-hitter before, said. “I found out when we did an interview on the field after the game. It wasn’t in the back of my mind.”
Trenton obviously was focused on winning the game and securing a one-game edge in the series, but the atmosphere shifted slightly when official scorer Jay Dunn made the change.
“For me it was like OK, we’re pitching a no-no (now) but we’re focused on winning the game,” Rosado said. “We were doing a great job of pounding the strike zone early in the count and letting them know how we could be. When we go out there it’s all about competing. It was about defense and (catcher) Francisco Diaz out there. He called a great game. He put down some good sequences out there. It was something special out there, but winning games is more important at the same time.”
Sheffield, making his second appearance since a long layoff for a strained oblique muscle, struck out three and walked a pair over four scoreless innings.
“He was much better second time off the DL. Looked much better and the feel for the changeup was better,” Rosado said. “He did a great job controlling the fastball and getting ahead in the count.”
Trenton’s no-hitter came a night after righthander Mitch Keller, pitching for Altoona in the EL’s other Division Series, pitched a one-hit shutout with four strikeouts on just 90 pitches against Bowie.
The Thunder weren’t concerned about the potential history while the game was going on, but will certainly take a no-hitter any way they can. And ultimately, they believe Dunn got the call correct.
“Either way we respect (Dunn’s) decision,” Rosado said, “but in my opinion that wasn’t a hard-hit ball at all.”