First-place Cyclones continue hot start
Complete Sweep of Williamsport to Cap Big Holiday Weekend
The Brooklyn Cyclones are the only thing hotter than the weather on Coney Island this summer, racing to the top of the McNamara Division standings with an impressive 12-5 record following this past holiday weekend’s three-game sweep of visiting Williamsport.
But second-year Brooklyn manager Tom Gamboa knows all too well that hot starts can disintegrate into poor finishes with two full months remaining in the grueling 76-game grind of the New York-Penn League season.
“[Our division] will be a battle,” insisted Gamboa as his Cyclones improved to 5-1 in July by finishing off the previously red-hot CrossCutters with Monday night’s dramatic 2-1, 10-inning win in front of 4,562 Brooklyn baseball fanatics.
“It’s still so early and everybody is still getting their feet on the ground. We won’t really look at the race until early August,” added Gamboa, who saw his team lose out on a playoff spot on the season’s final day last year due to a head-to-head tiebreaker against Connecticut.
Though he’s trying to keep his young club on an even keel, Gamboa has to be impressed with the early results.
The Cyclones have jumped out to a 2 ½-game lead in the McNamara race, ahead of second-place Staten Island (10-8), and now own the second-best record in the league after throttling Pinckney Division-leading Williamsport, which entered this series with a gaudy 13-1 mark.
Brooklyn celebrated Independence Day with a 2-0 blanking of the ‘Cutters as Matt Blackham improved to 2-0 with a 1.45 ERA after tossing seven innings of two-hit ball and striking out nine in what Gamboa called the best performance of his professional pitching career.
“He pitched a masterpiece against a very good team,” Gamboa noted.
The Cyclones broke out the heavy lumber for Sunday’s 9-2 thumping of Williamsport as designated hitter Brandon Brosher set a franchise record with seven RBIs, including a first-inning grand slam that put Brooklyn in front to stay.
“It feels pretty good,” Brosher, who missed almost all of last season due to a broken right fibula and battled through a hand injury during extended spring training, told MiLB.com.
“I struggled the first couple at-bats (of the season), struck out several times,” he added. “I’m working, trying to get a feel back since the hand injury. I feel like I’m finally now starting to get back to where my swing was.”
Monday’s tilt was highlighted by another brilliant pitching performance by Tyler Badamo, who yielded an unearned run on four hits over seven innings while striking out a season-high six and walking one.
Badamo, who was named the NY-Penn’s Pitcher of the Week earlier Monday, has tossed 14 consecutive frames without allowing an earned run over his last two outings.
The Brooklyn bullpen stood tall again after Badamo left Monday’s game as Corey Taylor, Alex Palsha and Christian Montgomery (2-0) held the fort until pinch-runner Jeff Diehl scored on a throwing error in the bottom of the 10th to send everyone home happy.
None of the three relievers Gamboa employed Monday has allowed an earned run yet this summer.
“It’s been a pleasure to have them,” the skipper said of his relief corps. “If we’re ahead after six innings, we have a great chance to win with that bullpen.”
Having his team in first place heading into the Major League All-Star break has to be pretty sweet as well for Gamboa.
But divisions aren’t won in July.
So we’ll all wait to see if the Cyclones’ finish is as strong as their blazing start.
This, That and the Other Thing: Badamo (1-1), who was tabbed Pitcher of the Week before he even took the hill in Brooklyn on Monday evening, has limited opponents to four earned runs on 14 hits over 26 2/3 innings in his four starts for Brooklyn. The 22-year-old Mount Sinai, N.Y., native has struck out 20 while walking only four, posting a 0.67 WHIP. A 24th-round pick by the Mets in the 2014 MLB Draft, Badamo’s 1.35 ERA is the best in the league among pitchers with at least four starts thus far this summer. … After sweeping the ‘Cutters, the Cyclones received a much-needed day off Tuesday in advance of their upcoming three-game series with Hudson Valley. Brooklyn will open the set at Dutchess Stadium Wednesday before hosting the Renegades here on Thursday night. The first 3,000 fans in attendance for the 7 p.m. game will receive a special Black and Red Cyclones jersey as part of the organization’s continuing Jersday Thursdays promotion.
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