‘Rain’ Man: Lara caps another successful trip for Cyclones

July 31, 2012 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Rainy Lara
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Perhaps the Cyclones should consider forfeiting home-field advantage during their upcoming six-game homestand.

Brooklyn’s “Road Warriors” improved to 16-7 away from the once-friendly confines of MCU Park with Monday night’s 5-1 victory at Mahoning Valley, capping a much-needed 4-2 road trip and remaining within striking distance two games of first-place Hudson Valley in the McNamara Division.

The Cyclones, who will host Connecticut on Surf Avenue Wednesday night, are just 9-10 at home this year.

Undisputed staff ace Rainy Lara (5-1) dazzled Scrappers batters over seven strong innings Monday, striking out 10 while yielding a run on only three hits with no walks to lower his season ERA to 2.72. Like most of his young teammates, the 6-foot-4, 21-year-old Dominican right-hander has been especially brilliant on the road this summer, improving to 4-0 with a 1.57 ERA in four starts outside Coney Island. At home this year, Lara is 1-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three outings.

“Here’s a guy who was a closer all through last year,” Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly said earlier this month of Lara, who went 1-2 with a 2.22 ERA and six saves in 16 relief outings for the Gulf Coast League Mets last season. “I don’t think he started a game. He’s done terrific.”

While Cyclones pitchers continue to perform well, be it at home or on the road, the Brooklyn offense kicked into high gear during the final two games of the series with Mahoning Valley.

Center fielder Brandon Nimmo, the Mets’ first-round pick (13th overall) in the 2011 draft, was at the forefront of the Baby Bums’ resurgence at the plate. The 19-year-old Wyoming native went 7-for-11 with a homer, three doubles and three RBIs as Brooklyn took two of three from the Scrappers. Nimmo also put together his first career four-hit game as a professional in Sunday’s 10-5 rout of Mahoning Valley, and is up to .252 for the season after struggling to climb over the Mendoza line (.200) earlier this month.

After Lara gave up a first-inning run to the Scrappers Monday night, the Brooklyn offense made sure it wouldn’t leave him hanging, putting up two quick runs in the third on Jayce Boyd’s single, which plated Eudy Pina and Nimmo, before Stefan Sabol ripped a two-RBI base knock of his own in the fifth to give Lara a 4-1 cushion.

Brooklyn center fielder Brandon Nimmo went 7-for-11 with a homer and three RBIs as the Cyclones took the final two games of their three-game series in Mahoning Valley. Eagle photo by Bill KotsatosNimmo’s 13th double of the summer drove home the game’s final run in the sixth, giving him a team-high 24 RBIs.

With 26 hits in their past two games, the Cyclones (25-17) are hoping to carry their road momentum back home, where they can continue to fortify their position as the New York-Penn League’s wild-card leader while hunting down the first-place Renegades (27-15), who have won eight of their last 10 games.

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This, That and the Other Thing: Brooklyn showed off its power early Sunday night as SS Phillip Evans blasted his team-leading fourth homer in the first inning before RF Julio Concepcion and Nimmo launched back-to-back shots in the second. Though Brooklyn ranks 12th on the 14-team circuit in runs scored (164) and batting average (.235), the Baby Bums are tied for the league lead in homers with 22. … RF Pina went 2-for-3 with two runs scored Monday and is batting a healthy .303 with over his last 10 games. Despite his solid .267 average at the plate, Pina remains entrenched in the No. 9 hole of Donnelly’s lineup, where he’s been most of the summer. … C Kevin Plawecki, the Mets’ supplemental first-round pick out of Purdue in this year’s draft, got the night off Monday. The 21-year-old Thurman Munson Award semifinalist should be looking forward to the extended homestand as he is one of the few Cyclones performing better at MCU Park than away from it. Through his first 11 games on Coney Island, Plawecki is batting .333 (13-for-39) with a homer and three RBIs.

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