Cyclones go from boom to bust in ninth
Wildness, Error Cost Brooklyn Dearly in Ongoing Playoff Pursuit
The Ugly Holiday Sweater Jerseys the Brooklyn Cyclones were planning to hand out to fans Thursday couldn’t possibly be more repugnant than the brutal ninth inning meltdown that led to the Baby Bums’ latest back-breaking loss Wednesday night in Coney Island.
In a see-saw battle that featured four lead changes over the final five half-innings, the Cyclones, desperate to remain in contention for the New York-Penn League’s wild-card spot, came apart at the seams just when it appeared they were poised to escape with a narrow victory.
A throwing error by second baseman Michael Paez and three wild pitches from fill-in closer Alejandro Castro in the top of the ninth cost Brooklyn dearly in the standings, resulting in a hideous 6-5 loss to visiting Mahoning Valley in front of 5,191 fans at MCU Park.
“The last couple of innings were painful to watch,” Cyclones third-year skipper Tom Gamboa admitted during his post-game press conference. “We gift-wrapped one and handed it to them tonight.”
Only moments before the epic fail, the Cyclones took a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the eighth on former second-round pick Desmond Lindsay’s mammoth two-run homer, estimated at a whopping 428 feet, over the left-field fence.
Lindsay has belted all four of his homers in Brooklyn, compared to the combined seven the rest of the Baby Bums’ roster has accumulated here this summer in the pitcher-friendly park.
“That ball that Desmond Lindsay hit, that’s a big-league bat,” Gamboa noted. “That’s how the ball comes off the bat in the big leagues. It was fun to see.”
The Cyclones squandered an opportunity to add a tack-on run later in the frame as catcher Brandon Brosher was called for interference on an apparent run-scoring infield single when he was hit by reliever Randy Valladares’ throw to first.
“Brosher has to be on the foul side of the line,” Gamboa said as he explained why he didn’t run out and argue the crucial judgement call. “He was clearly on the fair side of the line.”
Castro, forced into late-inning action due to the absence of closer Taylor Henry (respiratory inflammation) came on to shut the door in the ninth, but didn’t come close to nailing down what would have been his first save of the year.
After Gabriel Mejia reached on a bunt single to spark the decisive rally, Todd Isaacs hit a slow roller to second, which Paez fielded and fired past first baseman Anthony Dimino, allowing the tying run to move to third.
Andrew Calica followed with a sacrifice fly to Lindsay in center field, knotting the contest at 5-5 and leaving Castro (1-2) with precious little room for error as the inning continued.
The 23-year-old right-hander, making his 21st appearance out of the Brooklyn bullpen, uncorked two wild pitches during Erlin Cerda’s at-bat, including one on strike three that allowed the Scrappers’ clean-up hitting second baseman to reach first while Isaacs scurried to third as the go-ahead run.
With Silento Sayles at the plate, Cerda swiped second to eliminate the inning-ending double play before Castro uncorked his third wild pitch to plate Isaacs, giving Mahoning Valley the lead for good.
“They owe it to themselves to give themselves a chance to be successful by throwing the ball over the plate,” Gamboa said of his late-inning relievers.
Brooklyn tried in vain to battle back in the bottom of the ninth as Luis Carpio drew a two-out walk and moved into scoring position when Lindsay, hoping for another big blow and a walk-off win, also drew a free pass.
But shortstop Colby Woodmansee struck out swinging against Scrappers closer Kenny Matthews, leaving Brooklyn with yet another demoralizing defeat in a summer chock-full of them.
The Cyclones’ fifth loss in six games dropped them back to .500 at 32-32 and 4 1/2 games behind wild card-leading Staten Island (36-27) in the hunt for the circuit’s last playoff spot.
It also took the shine off Desmond’s tape-measure blast, and right-hander Justin Dunn’s continued success on the hill.
The Mets’ first-round pick in this past June’s MLB Draft started for Brooklyn, tossing three scoreless frames while allowing one hit, one walk and striking out five. He also topped at 97 miles-per-hour on the radar gun, lowering his minuscule ERA to 1.50.
“It was great to see Dunn throw tonight,” Gamboa gushed. “He obviously threw very well. His delivery was very solid. Dunn’s outing was outstanding.”
This, That and the Other Thing: Woodmansee finished 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored Wednesday night, but has batted just .203 overall this month after bursting out of the gate with a .405 average, something Gamboa chalks up to fatigue after the slick-fielding shortstop played a full season at Arizona State before logging 53 games thus far for Brooklyn … The Cyclones went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position in their latest loss, stranding eight runners on a night they could have certainly used a few more big hits … Lindsay’s memorable long ball was his first here in Coney Island since Aug. 12, when he drove in a franchise record-tying seven runs against West Virginia.
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