Cyclones in midst of early summer swoon
Baby Bums Drop to 2-6 Overall Following Fifth Consecutive Defeat
“Can anybody here play this game?”
OK, so it might be a tad early in the summer to begin invoking Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel’s query regarding the 1962 New York Mets, still considered the worst team in the history of baseball.
But the 2017 Cyclones are off to a brutal start that isn’t exactly breeding confidence that they will end their four-year playoff drought under new manager Edgardo Alfonzo.
The Baby Bums suffered their fifth straight loss Wednesday night in Aberdeen, committing a pair of costly errors, managing just three hits and wasting a solid starting effort by right-hander Trent Johnson in a 6-1 loss to the IronBirds in front of 3,506 fans at Ripken Stadium.
Brooklyn, which fell to 2-6 overall, staked Johnson (1-1) to a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth inning, when the Mets’ third-round pick in this month’s MLB Draft, Quinn Brodey, laced a two-out, line-drive single into center field to plate Jose Miguel Medina.
Johnson, who had held Aberdeen scoreless over the first five frames, got the first two outs of the sixth before surrendering a go-ahead two-run homer to Seamus Curran.
The 20-year-old right-hander, who has yielded just three runs over 11 strong innings in his first two starts of the campaign, left the contest after giving up two runs on five hits with two walks and five strikeouts over a season-high six frames.
Brooklyn’s struggling lineup couldn’t get him off the hook thereafter, failing to register a single hit over the final three frames as the Baby Bums remained winless since a 5-3 victory at Vermont on June 22 in Johnson’s previous start.
The Cyclones’ bullpen also ran into trouble in the seventh as St. John’s University alum Joe Napolitano was pounded for three runs on four hits in the inning, including yet another home by Curran.
Walter Rasquin and second-year Cyclone Franklin Correa had the other two hits for Brooklyn, which was hoping to end its slide in Aberdeen on Thursday night.
Alfonzo, the Mets legend entering his first year as a pro manager on any level, has to be confounded by the Baby Bums’ lack of baseball acumen through the first eight games.
The Cyclones own the New York-Penn League’s lowest collective batting average at .198, and the staff’s 5.14 cumulative earned-run average ranks 11th on the 14-team circuit.
The fielding hasn’t been much better as Brooklyn has committed an unsightly 17 errors in its first eight games. That’s an average of just over two per contest, if you are keeping score.
Alfonzo has been adamant that the team’s collective effort, especially defensively, must improve if the Cyclones hope to return to the postseason this summer for the first time since 2012.
“It was a really tough one today,” Alfonzo lamented in his office following Monday night’s ugly 8-3 loss to Hudson Valley at Coney Island’s MCU Park.
“We committed five errors and all the errors caused a run. That’s just not good. It’s tough to win a game like that.”
The Cyclones actually endured a six-error game during a 6-1 victory in Vermont on June 21, posting their first win of the season.
On Wednesday, Napolitano’s throwing miscue on a potential force play opened the door for a three-run inning in the seventh and shortstop Leon Byrd Jr., booted a grounder in the eighth.
Alfonzo, a sure-handed second baseman during his illustrious big league career, hopes his club can shake off some of these early summer jitters and begin charging back up the McNamara Division standings in July.
“If everyone does their part, we are going to be alright,” he noted.
This, That and the Other Thing: The Cyclones will return from Aberdeen on Saturday, kicking off their Independence Weekend celebrations with Rockford Peaches Cap giveaway in honor of the 25th anniversary of the beloved baseball film “A League of Their Own.” The Baby Bums are still seeking their first home win of the season after dropping a 7-4 decision to Staten Island on Opening Night at MCU Park, and losing three in a row here to Hudson Valley by a combined score of 23-10.
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In Brooklyn Nets news, The Vertical on Wednesday reported that the team had picked up the 2017-18 options on the contracts of Sean Kilpatrick and Joe Harris, each of whom is slated to make $1.5 million next season.
Kilpatrick, general manager Sean Marks’ first significant addition to the team in 2015-16, averaged 13.1 points per game last season.
Harris netted 8.2 points per contest for Brooklyn — which finished an NBA-worst 20-62 last season — have begun to reshape the roster with the blockbuster deal that sent all-time Net Brook Lopez to the Lakers for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov.
The Nets are also reportedly interested in signing 3-point specialist and newly relocated Brooklyn resident J.J. Reddick to the roster via free agency this summer. The free-agent signing period doesn’t begin until Saturday.
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