Cyclones’ tragic number down to one
Split in Connecticut Assures Brooklyn’s First-Ever Losing Season
In what can be viewed as a microcosm of their entire 2015 season, the Brooklyn Cyclones began Wednesday’s doubleheader in Connecticut with a bright ray of hope, only to have it obscured by the dark clouds of reality.
There will be no playoff baseball in our fair borough for the third consecutive summer.
By splitting the double dip, taking the opener 7-1 behind a strong starting pitching performance by Edioglis Villasmil before dropping the nightcap 2-1, the Cyclones (32-39) not only saw their tragic number for playoff elimination shaved down to one, but also guaranteed the first losing season in the history of the team.
Not quite the 15th anniversary celebration our borough’s Class A short-season franchise by the sea was hoping for, especially in light of welcoming its record-shattering four millionth fan to MCU Park just last month.
Brooklyn, the most offensively challenged team in the New York-Penn League, and “arguably all of professional baseball”, according to second-year manager Tom Gamboa, has gone a dismal 18-34 since opening the campaign on a 14-5 tear.
Having lost out on a NY-Penn wild-card berth to the Tigers (33-35) last summer via a head-to-head tiebreaker, the Cyclones once again likely saw their postseason dreams dashed at the hands of Connecticut.
With only five contests left on the grueling 76-game schedule, including a season-ending three-game set against first-place Staten Island at MCU Park beginning Saturday, the Baby Bums are 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees, who have six games remaining on their slate.
While Gamboa intimated earlier in the week that all that was left for the Cyclones to do with their remaining games was “play spoiler”, Brooklyn’s playoff hopes remained alive for a few hours Wednesday evening.
Villasmil tossed six innings of one-run ball and center fielder Desmond Lindsay, a new addition following a season-ending injury to outfielder Tucker Tharp, and catcher Jose Garcia had two RBIs apiece as the Cyclones cruised to victory in Game One, snapping a three-game losing streak.
But the second game was a painful reminder of just how bad the offense, as well as the defense, has been on Coney Island this summer as Brooklyn managed just four hits while committing three errors.
Jeff Diehl’s leadoff homer in the top of the second staked the Cyclones to an early lead, but Brooklyn managed just two hits thereafter, making a loser of reliever Nicco Blank (0-5), who remained winless on the season despite holding the Tigers to one run on four hits over 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen.
Overall, Brooklyn is batting a league-worst .220 — that’s .016 points worse than 13th-ranked Lowell — has struck out a whopping 644 times and scored a league-low 248 runs through 71 games.
The season-long ineptitude at the plate has offset a pitching staff that ranks second in the NY-Penn in ERA with a 3.21 mark while yielding a league-low 533 hits.
Brooklyn, which went a more-than-respectable 42-34 last summer during Gamboa’s first year on the job, hadn’t endured a season this bad since 2002, when the Cyclones finished 38-38 and missed the playoffs just one year after winning a share of the NY-Penn title in their inaugural season on Coney Island.
Gamboa readily admitted last week that some of his players just weren’t getting better as the season progressed, and even indicated that some were not the least bit willing to change their approach at the plate despite continued bad results.
“We have some guys on the team that have topped out in ability level,” he said following a 5-2 home loss to Aberdeen last Friday.
“With some of them, we’ve got a few guys that are so stubborn that they don’t want to make adjustments for instruction, which is tantamount to beating your head against the wall and expecting a different result.”
A baseball lifer with more than 40 years of MLB-affiliated experience in both the big leagues and minors, Gamboa came out of retirement to take this job last summer.
He might be questioning that decision after witnessing 71 games worth of at-times dismal baseball this summer.
Only five more to go.
This, That and the Other Thing: Diehl’s homer in Game Two was his fifth of the season as he finished the contest 2-for-3, upping his batting average to .289 on the season. The INF-DH enters the final weekend of the season on a modest six-game hitting streak, going 9-for-21 during the hot stretch. … Emerging SS Alfredo Reyes is on a seven-game tear, and has hit safely in nine of his last 10 games overall to boost his season mark to .233 after struggling just to reach the Mendoza Line (.200) for most of the summer. … Saying goodbye to summer is always hard, but the Cyclones will celebrate it in style at MCU Park on Saturday with a special post-game fireworks show and by handing out Cyclones Ski Caps to fans who attend that night’s game against arch rival Staten Island.
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