Brooklyn Boro

Cyclones’ playoff hopes fading fast

Brooklyn Dead Last in McNamara Following Epic Skid

August 18, 2015 By John Torenli, Sports Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Andrew Church pitched 6 2/3 strong innings Sunday, but the Cyclones didn't have a prayer against Hudson Valley due to their league-worst offense and porous defense. Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Cyclones
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It’s becoming more and more evident that the Brooklyn Cyclones must finish the season as furiously as they began it to have a chance to win the McNamara Division, and avert a third consecutive non-playoff campaign on Coney Island.

Brooklyn suffered its season-high sixth straight loss and had dropped a franchise-record seven in a row at MCU Park entering the New York-Penn League’s two-day (Monday and Tuesday) All-Star break.

While right-hander starter Gaby Almonte, closer Alex Palsha and second baseman Vinny Siena ventured off to Aberdeen for the circuit’s annual late-summer classic, the rest of second-year manager Tom Gamboa’s team was left to lick its wounds following the struggling team’s latest loss.

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Despite 6 2/3 dominant innings from starter Andrew Church on Sunday, the Cyclones absorbed a gut-wrenching 3-2, 11-inning defeat to visiting Hudson Valley, allowing an unearned run in the top of the 11th on third baseman David Thompson’s costly error.

Following two big wins at first-place Staten Island early last week, the Baby Bums have lost five in a row on Surf Avenue, with a defeat at Hudson Valley on Sunday thrown in, getting outscored 38-16 in the process.

The extended malaise has left them dead last in a division they once ruled following a blazing, season-opening 14-5 start.

Brooklyn (25-30) will enter Wednesday night’s contest against visiting Lowell a season-high 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Yankees (28-26) in the McNamara, with Aberdeen and Hudson Valley (both 27-28) standing between them and the Bombers.

The deficit is certainly not insurmountable, nor are the Cyclones bereft of the type of talent it would take to make a late-season run.

But it is obvious at this point in the grueling 76-game grind of a summer schedule that Brooklyn needs a boost, both at the plate where it owns a league-worst .216 batting average, and in the field where the Cyclones seem to commit a key error on a nightly basis.

Where that boost will come from is anyone’s guess at this point.

Even Brooklyn’s once-vaunted pitching staff, which has been allowing more than six runs per game during the club’s current slide, can’t bail Gamboa’s squad out of the funk.

That was evident Monday night as Church yielded an unearned run via a passed ball by catcher Jose Garcia in the seventh inning, on only two hits with three strikeouts.

The 20-year-old right-hander from Nevada did not issue a walk, but his teammates offered him very little in the way of offensive support following a two-run outburst in the bottom of the second, one of which scored on a rally-killing double play.

The Cyclones went a dismal 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position on the night, and struck out a season-high 17 times against five Renegades hurlers, dropping a season-worst five games below .500.

“Thank God that the league is all parity. We’ll just keep battling,” Gamboa said last week following a 7-6 home loss to State College.

The battle certainly is not lost just yet.

Brooklyn has 21 games remaining, including the final three right here on Coney Island against the first-place Yanks from Sept. 5-7, but the Cyclones must put together the type of run that they began their season with if they hope to return to postseason play for the first time in Gamboa’s tenure and the first time overall since the summer of 2012.

It’s getting harder and harder to believe that’s possible, regardless of how much parity there is in the division.

This, That and the Other Thing: Wednesday’s return to action should also mark an important milestone in Brooklyn baseball history. The Cyclones, who have led the NY-Penn and most short-season franchises across the country in attendance during their first 15 years here, are expected to welcome the 4,000,000th fan through the turnstiles before the game against Lowell. To celebrate the feat, the Cyclones are giving one lucky fan in attendance that night a shot at $40,000. If the Cyclones hit an out-of-the-stadium grand slam in the bottom of the fourth inning on Wednesday night, one lucky fan in attendance will win 4,000,000 pennies. Have fun carrying that home! Brooklyn will become the first NY-Penn franchise ever to draw 4,000,000 fans and just the third short-season affiliate in the country to reach that mark. By comparison, the Spoke Indians welcomed their 4,000,000th fan in their 28th season and the Eugene Emeralds accomplished the feat in their 39th year. “The support that we have received from Cyclones fans over the years truly has been remarkable,” said Cyclones Vice President Steve Cohen, who has been with the team since it moved to Coney Island in the summer of 2001. “While this milestone is a great accomplishment for our franchise, and something that we are extremely proud of, it speaks more to the passion and loyalty of our fan base than anything else.” … Also making Wednesday night at MCU a special attraction are the WWE Superstars and Divas, who will be making an appearance to celebrate the upcoming SummerSlam. Also, a Greg Kelly and Rosanna Scotto Bobblehead will be presented courtesy of the Municipal Credit Union. As part of Way Back Wednesday, all tickets will cost just $10 and are still available for purchase at the MCU Park Box Office, by calling (718)507-TIXX or at

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