Cyclones hit the skids after sizzling start
Slumping Baby Bums fall for seventh time in last eight games
Brian Sharp’s team-leading third home run of the summer proved to be the only bright spot in the Brooklyn Cyclones’ 6-1 loss at Aberdeen Wednesday night in front of 2,102 fans at Ripken Stadium.
Sharp, the Mets’ 26th-round pick out of the University of Missouri in last month’s MLB Draft, powered a shot over the right-field wall in the top of the fifth inning, but that would be the second and final hit Brooklyn would muster in its seventh loss in the past eight games, dropping the Cyclones (12-13) below the .500 mark.
After bursting out of the gate with 10 wins in their first 14 games, these Baby Bums have once again fallen on hard times, losing all but two of their past 11 contests.
Starter Briam Campusano (2-3) put Brooklyn in an early hole against the IronBirds, who improved to 4-0 against the Cyclones this season.
The 22-year-old Dominican right-hander failed to survive the opening frame, surrendering four earned runs on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts before second-year manager Edgardo Alfonzo summoned his bullpen, which followed with 7 1/3 near-spotless frames.
But the damage had already been done against a Brooklyn team that has struggled to recapture its penchant for strong starting pitching and clutch hitting, two characteristics that factored heavily in the Class A short-season club’s early ascension to the top of the McNamara Division standings.
After going a league and franchise-worst 24-52 a season ago, the Cyclones opened this campaign with a flourish, raising hopes that they might just end the team’s five-year postseason drought.
The last two weeks have dampened those aspirations.
The Brooklyn bats have gone silent during the skid, scoring a combined seven runs over the team’s last six defeats.
The relief quartet of Billy Oxford, Ryan Selmer, Tommy Wilson and Yeudy Colon held Aberdeen to a pair of unearned runs while scattering seven hits following Campusano’s hasty departure Wednesday.
However, the Brooklyn lineup went dormant following Sharp’s booming shot, managing just three walks against IronBird hurlers before Chase Chambers grounded out to shortstop to end the opener of a three-game series.
The Cyclones are below the break-even mark for the first time since dropping the season opener in Staten Island, and were hoping Thursday night’s starter, Jaison Vilera (1-1, 1.86 ERA) would give them an opportunity to get back to .500.
The last Brooklyn hurler to register a win was Mets ace Noah Syndergaard, who tossed five strong innings in Sunday’s 2-1 home victory over the archrival Staten Island Yankees.
Syndergaard, who was recovering from a finger injury that has sidelined him since late May, will be back starting for the parent club at Citi Field on Friday night against the Washington Nationals.
But the Cyclones will get another turn in the rotation from rehabbing Mets left-hander Jason Vargas, who hurled six innings of one-hit ball with nine strikeouts in Monday night’s 2-1 loss at Staten Island.
Vargas, still nursing a strained right calf muscle, is apparently not ready to rejoin the Mets’ rotation just yet, so he will pitch for the Cyclones on Saturday here in Coney Island against Williamsport.
The Baby Bums hope to give him more offensive support than they did at Richmond County Bank Ballpark earlier in the week.
The Cyclones went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and only scored on Anthony Dirocie’s two-out double in the fourth inning that evening across the Verrazano Bridge.
Vargas left the game with a tenuous 1-0 lead following his six brilliant frames, but Joshua Walker squandered that advantage by yielding solo homers to the Yankees’ Mike Ford and Miguel Flames in the seventh.
Brooklyn’s recent malaise has left it three full games behind Hudson Valley for the top spot in the division.
This, That and the Other Thing: Colon has emerged as Brooklyn’s top option out of the bullpen thus far this summer, going 3-0 with an 0.84 ERA in nine relief appearances while holding opponents scoreless over his last 7 1/3 frames. The 23-year-old Dominican right-hander fanned two in a scoreless eighth inning Wednesday night in Aberdeen … On Sunday at MCU Park, the first 2,000 fans in attendance will receive a Black Panther Bobblehead as part of Marvel Super Hero Day at the ballpark. Game time is set for 4 p.m. with gates opening at 2 p.m. The Cyclones will also be wearing special Black Panther Jerseys that will be raffled off during the game. All fans in attendance will be able to take the field starting at 3 p.m. for a Super Hero Catch on the field. Those interested in participating should like up at Section 21 on the left-field side. In addition, any child who wears Super Hero Attire will be invited to take the field with the Cyclones as part of the club’s Field of Dreams initiative.
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