For the first time since 1994, a no-hitter has been recorded in an Eastern League playoff game. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know about it, because neither did the man on the mound when the final out was recorded.
The Trenton Thunder, AA affiliate of the New York Yankees, blanked the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, a New York Mets farm club, in the runs and hits column in Game 3 of the Eastern League Division Series. When the no-hitter was complete, the baby Bombers predictably pounced on Taylor Widener, but the right-hander wasn’t exactly sure why they did so.
Justus Sheffield started the game for Trenton before being relived by fellow top prospect Widener. The line score showed Binghamton had one lone hit on the night. However, a weirdly late official scoring change wiped that base knock off the board, suddenly turning a pedestrian game into a potentially historic contest. A second inning Ponies single was changed to an error but inexplicably not until the eighth.
Widener went on to record those final outs, hurling five superb frames in all. When the last batter was retired, Widener knew his team won a pivotal postseason match-up, but he didn’t anticipate such a celebration. “I had to double think it if we clinched or not,” said Widener. “I was confused.” Hard to believe? Not really. All of the ingredients were there for a recipe of wonderful baseball quirkiness.
As we all know, it’s a no-no to speak of a no-no when said no-no is in progress. The pitcher is especially off limits in such situations. So, the Thunder players were not talking to Widener. Shouldn’t he have found that odd since he assumed there was a hit? Perhaps—if he was with this club all year—but you see, Widener was making his debut in AA ball. He’s the new guy. It’s completely and crazily plausible that Widener didn’t have a clue what was going on until the game was over.
When a team wins a series, they generally go nuts. A walk off always leads to mayhem. Whenever a club throws a no-hitter it’s mandatory to go bananas. Winning a game to go up 2-1 in a best of five however usually just calls for some enthusiastic handshakes. Nothing much different from a regular season victory. That’s the reaction Widener expected after this one ended. Instead he was bombarded; leading him to think his series-standing math was way off. Instead he was informed he was a big part of the first postseason no-hitter in Thunder history.
Was Widener able to complete the gem because of his blissful ignorance? We’ll never know. He admitted it may have made his task easier, but in the end it goes in the books as a no-hitter–one that Widener and Sheffield deserve. Despite both teams agreeing that the scoring change was oddly timed, no one is disputing the achievement of the pitchers and the ball club.
Perhaps the odd circumstances of this special game are appropriate for the 2017 Thunder. The team has enjoyed its share of magic this season. From setting a record for team wins days earlier to Thairo Estrada hitting for the cycle in Game 2 of the EDCS, this group is no stranger to good fortune.
No, the Thunder didn’t clinch the series when Widener and Sheffield combined to twirl a no-no, but they did eliminate Binghamton the next night. Now, the Thunder is off to the championship round against Altoona. It may be worth your attention. You never know what can happen or sometimes, unhappen in baseball.