Cyclones will lament the ones that got away
Latest Excruciating One-Run Loss Puts Brooklyn on Brink of Elimination
The Brooklyn Cyclones have spent virtually this entire summer being a bloop and a blast away from earning their first playoff berth in four summers on Coney Island.
That point was painfully driven home yet again Monday night as the Baby Bums dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Auburn Doubledays in front of an announced crowd of 5,210 fans at MCU Park.
Hoping to forge a ninth-inning tie, the Cyclones (34-35) got their leadoff runner on when Anthony Dimino, doing a solid job of filling in for injured All-Star first baseman Peter Alonso, stroked a sharp single into center field.
But on the very first pitch of leadoff man Gene Cone’s at-bat, Dimino was nailed trying to steal second, causing a collective groan among the Brooklyn faithful who showed up hoping to see the start of a miraculous season-ending run toward the New York-Penn League’s wild-card spot.
Cone flew out to left field before Michael Paez, who bashed a long homer over the left-field fence earlier in the evening, drew a two-out walk off Auburn closer David Ramos.
Again, the Cyclones stood on the threshold of pulling out a big win, only to see those hopes extinguished when center fielder Desmond Lindsay, the team leader with four home runs here in the unfriendly confines of Brooklyn’s sparkling facility by the sea, grounded into a game-ending force out.
The one-run game was Brooklyn’s 28th of the season, and the defeat dropped them one game below .500 and put them on the precipice of being mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
Another Cyclones loss, or another win by wild card-leading Staten Island will mean no playoff baseball on Coney Island, leaving Brooklyn fans to harken back to 2012 as the last time they had a legitimate shot to bring home the franchise’s first NY-Penn Championship since 2001.
Since winning six of eight games, including four in a row, to climb to 31-27 on Aug. 18, the Baby Bums have lost eight of their last 11 games, self-destructing down the stretch in a series of heartbreaking defeats.
This latest loss began with the Cyclones digging themselves a 3-0 hole before Paez, who went 2-for-4, pounded an offering from Auburn starter Dane Dunning (3-1) well over the fence in left.
Down 4-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, Brooklyn put together a rally sparked by Dimino’s one-out bunt single down the third-base line. Cone followed with a booming two-bagger to right field to plate Dimino, but he was stranded at second base Paez flied to center and Lindsay struck out swinging.
Third baseman Blake Tibieri added a solo shot to deep right-center with one out in the eighth, but other than Dimino’s leadoff base hit in the ninth, the Cyclones mustered little else on a night they went a collective 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position while leaving nine men on base.
Playing in close games should serve these young players well as they continue their professional careers in other locales throughout the Mets’ organization. But losing 11 of those tightly played contests has been the difference for a team that boasts one of the best starting staffs on the 14-team circuit, but ranks dead last with a .213 team batting average.
Raul Jacobsen (3-1) absorbed his first loss of the summer in Tuesday’s defeat, yielding four runs on five hits over six innings while striking out one without issuing a walk.
Gary Cornish followed with three brilliant innings of scoreless relief to keep Brooklyn’s hopes alive, but other than Cone’s double and Tibieri’s second homer of the year, the Cyclones didn’t muster nearly enough to overcome the Doubledays (27-40), who are also simply playing out the string.
Mets’ first-round pick Justin Dunn (1-1) was scheduled to pitch Tuesday night as Brooklyn, seven games out with seven to play, tried to stave off elimination for at least another day.
“We’ll be back again tomorrow, see if we can get our nose back above .500 again,” third-year manager Tom Gamboa has said all too often this summer.
There won’t be any more tomorrows for the 2016 Cyclones come their Sept. 5 regular-season finale in Staten Island.
This, That and the Other Thing: Brooklyn SS Colby Woodmansee, the Mets’ fifth-round pick in this year’s MLB Draft out of Arizona State, continued to struggle down the stretch Tuesday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts to drop his season average to .252. The team’s most consistent player during June and July has batted just .189 in August, something Gamboa attributes to the long season he has put in after starring for the Sun Devils all year. “He’s played terrifically on defense, and he was hitting well for three quarters of this season, but the last 10, 15 games his average has taken a nose dive,” Gamboa said. “When you look at his college season and here, he’s closing in on a 140 games. But he’s a real good-looking player.” … Dunn, who has not gone more than three innings in any of his first nine appearances, including six starts, boasts a 1.50 ERA and has struck out 28 batters in his first 24 innings as a professional. The Boston College alum has shown some wildness, however, walking nine batters and hitting another five. “The kid, I can list him as being the third man in a rotation for any team in the big leagues or even a back-end [of the bullpen] guy,” Cyclones pitching coach Billy Bryk told MiLB.com when asked about Dunn’s development. “I’m not saying now, but in the future that’s what I would list him as on a scouting report. He’s got three or four pitches he can throw for strikes and get guys out with. Then he can go in there for one or two innings with two plus pitches, with that mid- to upper-90s fastball with his slider being up to 85 to 88 [mph] at times. Those are two big league pitches that, if he doesn’t make it as a starter, you can see him pitching at the back end. He’s got electric stuff.”
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