Baby Bums go out with a whimper
Cyclones Eliminated from Playoff Contention with Shutout Loss
If you were gearing up for the upcoming regular season-ending Verrazano Series between the Cyclones and Staten Island Yankees in the hopes that Brooklyn might still be fighting for a New York-Penn League playoff spot, try to gear it down a bit.
The Baby Bums were officially eliminated from playoff contention Tuesday night, suffering a 5-0 blanking at the hands of the visiting Auburn Doubledays in front of an announced crowd of 6,252 fans, who were doubtlessly more entertained by the dazzling post-game fireworks display than anything else that transpired during Brooklyn’s sixth shutout loss of the summer.
The Cyclones’ league-worst offense again failed to ignite when it mattered most, going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and stranding nine base runners on a night Brooklyn needed a win, and a Staten Island loss, to remain alive for the league’s wild-card spot.
Mets’ first-round pick Justin Dunn continued his impressive pro debut campaign, tossing three scoreless frames while allowing three hits, striking out five and walking one as Brooklyn and Auburn matched zeroes for the first four frames.
But after Dunn’s departure, Erik Manoah, who has had an up-and-down campaign in Brooklyn, was unable to keep the Doubledays off the scoreboard, yielding three runs — two earned — on seven hits over the next four frames.
Brooklyn’s anemic bats never awoke from their slumber, going 7-for-34 on the night, matching their collective league-low batting average to a tee at .213 for the evening.
Designated hitter Ali Sanchez had a pair of singles, but the Cyclones failed to put together anything resembling a rally and failed to notch an extra-base hit against four Auburn pitchers, including starter Yonathan Ramirez (4-2), who picked up the win after giving up three hits while striking out three and walking one over the first five frames.
Struggling shortstop Colby Woodmansee, doubtlessly fatigued after playing a full season at Arizona State and logging 58 more games in Coney Island this summer, got the night off.
Michael Paez filled in at short and went 1-for-4 with a strikeout, lowering his batting average to .163.
Brooklyn appeared poised to strike in the bottom of the third against Ramirez as Paez reached on an infield single to third with one out and moved up to second when right-fielder Gene Cone was hit by a pitch.
But center fielder Desmond Lindsay lined out to left and after a wild pitch moved both runners up a bag, Sanchez struck out to end the threat.
Sanchez and Darryl Knight each singled in the sixth before catcher Dan Rizzie grounded out to short, finishing off Brooklyn’s final bid to get back in the game.
At 34-36, the Cyclones’ lone remaining fight is to finish above .500, something they had achieved in each of their first 14 seasons here.
But last year’s disappointing 33-43 campaign ended that streak, and this season’s team, though marginally better, could be the second straight losing squad in the franchise’s history, and will now certainly be the fourth straight to fail to reach the playoffs.
Manoah (5-5) won four consecutive starts from July 12 to Aug. 1, challenging New York-Penn League All-Star Harol Gonzalez for the role of staff ace. But he has gone 0-4 in his last five outings, including Tuesday night’s relief stint, surrendering a whopping 21 runs over 18 2/3 innings during the late-season meltdown.
The Yankees lost to Connecticut on Tuesday, leaving the door slightly ajar for Brooklyn to stay in the hunt.
But now, all the Cyclones can hope for during their home-and-home set with the Baby Bombers (Sunday in Brooklyn, Monday in Staten Island) is a chance to play spoiler as Connecticut remains two games behind the Yanks for the wild card with six contest left.
Gonzalez, who is 6-2 with a 1.57 ERA this season, still had something to pitch for entering Wednesday’s scheduled series finale with Auburn, as he may be up for New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Year honors, an award captured by Hansel Robles here in Brooklyn back in 2012.
That was also the last year the Cyclones qualified for a shot to win their first NY-Penn Championship since their inaugural 2001 campaign here in our fair borough.
This, That and the Other Thing: With Tuesday’s three-inning scoreless stint, Dunn, who is being kept on a strict pitch/innings count, lowered his ERA to 1.33 … Since peaking out at 31-27, the Cyclones have gone 3-9, leaving manager Tom Gamboa to lament his third straight non-playoff campaign at the helm. If Gamboa returns to Coney Island next summer, he will be the first skipper in Cyclones history to log four years at the helm in Coney Island … Before their season-ending clash with the Yankees, the Cyclones will head to Aberdeen for a three-game set beginning Thursday night … Sunday’s home finale against S.I. will be the Cyclones’ official Fan Appreciation Day. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to get autographs from players at the main gates when they open at 4:30 p.m., plus there will be a pre-game catch on the field and post-game kids run the bases. The first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a Cyclones calendar, and there will be a fireworks display following the game.
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