Cyclones slip-sliding out of contention
Match season-high losing streak with 5-2 setback to Jamestown
A season that began with such great promise – 11 wins in their first 15 games – has turned into a prolonged summer swoon for the Brooklyn Cyclones.
And the heat keeps intensifying.
Losers of all but four of their last 17 contests, the punchless Baby Bums matched a season high with their sixth consecutive defeat Wednesday night, dropping a 5-2 decision to the visiting Jamestown Jammers before a paid crowd of 8,848 at MCU Park.
New Brooklyn manager Tom Gamboa is baffled by his team’s collective inability to score as Brooklyn’s 104 runs through 32 games is tied for dead last on the 14-team circuit with Aberdeen.
“I’m at a loss to explain our lack of offense,” admitted Gamboa, who watched his struggling unit founder at the plate again after Michael Bernal’s sacrifice fly in the second inning and Jhoan Urena’s run-scoring double in the third.
“What people saw tonight was exactly what happened on our six-game road trip,” added Gamboa, referring to Brooklyn’s recently completed 1-5 jaunt through State College and Connecticut.
Brooklyn (15-17) finds itself eight full games behind first-place Hudson Valley (23-9) in the McNamara Division standings, and is also 2 ½ lengths back of Batavia in the hunt for the New York-Penn League’s lone wild-card spot.
A veteran of four decades of Major League-affiliated baseball, Gamboa knows there’s no tried-and-true method to getting the Cyclones out of their funk.
But he insists his players have been grinding away, trying to come up with a solution for their offensive woes.
“The guys are trying and we’re out here at 2:30 [p.m.] working, doing everything we can to get these guys out of their slump,” he revealed. “We just have to keep going day-by-day. The only highlight tonight was that we played error-free defense. The whole thing with our team right now is our lack of offense. I think we got shut out three times on our road trip and only manufactured two runs tonight. Until we start scoring some runs, it’s very hard to win ballgames.”
To their credit, Cyclones hurlers have done their best to keep the team afloat. Brooklyn ranks fourth on the circuit in team ERA (3.19) and has permitted just 96 earned runs overall.
On Wednesday night, starter Brandon Welch (2-2) was reached for four runs in the third inning before highly touted prospect Luis Mateo, Alberto Baldonado and Cameron Griffin held the Jammers to a run on two hits over the final six frames.
But the Cyclones failed to take advantage of the strong work out of the bullpen, managing three runs or fewer for the ninth time in their last 10 contests.”
“[The lack of scoring] puts a lot of pressure on the pitchers,” Gamboa admitted. “They know that we basically have to hold [the opposing team] to a run. … I keep thinking every day that we’re going to get a day that we’re going to have 10 hits and score six runs. But the more this goes on, the more pressure the guys put on themselves.”
Fortunately for the beleaguered skipper, some offensive firepower is on the way.
Mets’ first-round draft pick Michael Conforto, the 10th overall selection in June, will officially join the team this weekend after briefly working out with his new teammates last weekend during their road trip.
Conforto, who recently received a $2.97 million signing bonus from the parent club, is expected to spend the remainder of the summer in Brooklyn after hitting .345 with seven home runs and 56 RBIs in 59 games during his junior season at Oregon State.
The 21-year-old outfielder was one of only five finalists for the Dick Howser Trophy, given annually to the top college player in the entire nation after being chosen as the PAC-12 Player of the Year for the second season in a row.
“He worked out with us three days in Connecticut and swung the bat really well,” Gamboa said of his soon-to-be everyday left fielder. “He’s really a good-looking hitter. He’ll join us for good and be with us for the rest of the season. So we’re looking forward to Saturday. He’ll extend our lineup a little bit, we’ll DH him the first couple of days and once he gets acclimated, he’ll be our regular left fielder.”
Conforto is chomping at the bit to get his pro career going in Brooklyn.
“I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about the Cyclones and playing in Brooklyn,” he said. “Even some of the guys on the Mets were coming up to me during batting practice and telling me how much fun I’m going to have. I can’t wait to get started.”
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson is also expecting big things from his high-priced pick.
“Besides the fact that Michael is an all-around outstanding player from our point of view, his outstanding on-base approach as well as his left-handed swing and the power potential that he brings [is] sort of a natural fit for our organization in this ballpark as a gap-to-gap-type of hitter,” Alderson told MLB.com after Conforto took batting practice at Citi Field. “We’re extraordinarily pleased to have him.”
As is Gamboa, who is still trying to figure out what happened to the club that raced to the top of the standings following the season’s first two weeks.
This, That and the Other Thing: The Cyclones were hoping to avoid a season-high seventh straight defeat as they resumed a six-game homestand Thursday night in Coney Island. Brooklyn also dropped six straight from June 28-July 5, a skid that came immediately after their red-hot 11-4 start to the campaign. … Conforto should enjoy his time in our fair borough, not only for the capacity crowds he’ll be playing before at MCU Park, but the food he can enjoy off the diamond. “We’ve been eating a whole lot since we got here,” Conforto told MLB.com last Friday afternoon during his introductory news conference at Citi Field. “We’re Italian, and we’ve had some really good Italian food. Really good. Usually you can only get that from family back home.”