Cyclones drop two games back of Hudson Valley
Suffer 5-2 loss at Tri-City while Renegades blank Connecticut
Scoreboard-watching will be a way of life for the Brooklyn Cyclones over these final two weeks of the regular season.
The Baby Bums, who are trying to end a five-year playoff drought on Coney Island, couldn’t have liked what they saw on the out-of-town scoreboard at Troy’s Joseph L. Bruno Stadium on Tuesday night.
While the playoff-hopeful Cyclones were dropping a 5-2 decision to the host Tri-City ValleyCats in front of 4,663 fans up in Troy, N.Y., the McNamara Divison-leading Hudson Valley Renegades were blanking Connecticut, 6-0, to extend their first-place advantage to two full games.
Brooklyn, which won a season-high eight straight games to move into sole possession of first place on Saturday night, has since dropped three of four contests, including the first two of this three-game set with Tri-City, which is fighting to hold off Lowell in the New York-Penn League’s Stedler Division.
Tuesday’s defeat also dropped the Cyclones (34-28) into a tie with Mahoning Valley for the 14-team circuit’s lone wild-card spot, putting their postseason hopes in further jeopardy entering the final 12 games of the campaign.
Fortunately for the Baby Bums, who haven’t sniffed the NY-Penn playoffs since the summer of 2012, they still hold their destiny in their own hands.
After completing their series in Tri-City, the Cyclones will head back to Brooklyn for a three-game series with Connecticut. They have three games in Vermont this weekend before heading back to Surf Avenue again for a critical three-game set with the first-place Renegades, whom they took two of three from last weekend in the Hudson Valley.
Brooklyn will finish its 76-game slate with three games against arch rival Staten Island from Sept. 1-3, with only of those games taking place across the Verrazano Bridge.
The Yankees are currently three games back of Hudson Valley in the Division race and only one length behind the Cyclones in the hunt for the wild card.
But before the Baby Bums can begin dreaming of capturing the McNamara crown or knocking the Yankees out of playoff contention, they must once again capture the form that saw them take nine of 10 games before their recent malaise.
On Tuesday, starter Jose Butto (1-1), coming off a masterful six-inning effort in a win over Vermont on Aug. 15, was reached for five runs on nine hits over four innings to put the Cyclones into an early 5-0 hole.
Though the Brooklyn bullpen kept the ValleyCats at bay over the next four frames, the Cyclones couldn’t make the most of their opportunities to draw even with Tri-City.
Borough native Manny Rodriguez stroked an RBI single with two out in the seventh inning to put the Cyclones on the board, but reigning NY-Penn All-Star Game MVP Ross Adolph struck out with the bases loaded to end the threat.
In the eighth, Brooklyn picked up a run on Tri-City reliever Mark Moclair Jr.’s pickoff error, but Brian Sharp fanned with a runner in scoring position to keep the Cyclones down by three runs.
Rodriguez reached on a fielder’s choice and stole a base in the ninth, but he was left stranded when Dylan Tice flew out to right field, extinguishing any hopes of a Brooklyn comeback and boosting Hudson Valley’s division lead to two.
The Cyclones managed just four singles off four Tri-City pitchers, including none in four innings against starter Brett Daniels.
Butto struck out five without walking a batter, but he yielded a pair of homers to put the ValleyCats in front for good.
Tommy Wilson and All-Star reliever Billy Oxford held Tri-City to one hit over four scoreless frames following Butto’s departure, but the Cyclones responded by going a dismal 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on a night they could have at least remained within a game of the defending NY-Penn champion Renegades.
The Cyclones were hoping to get back in the win column in Wednesday night’s series finale at Tri-City, sending left-hander Josh Walker to the hill against the ValleyCats.
Walker (0-1, 3.04 ERA) was still seeking his first win for Brooklyn after seven appearances, including four starts.
The New Haven, Connecticut native was sharp in his last outing against Vermont on Aug. 16, yielding three hits and striking out four over five innings in Brooklyn’s 10-inning 2-1 win over the Lake Monsters at MCU Park.
This, That and the Other Thing: The Cyclones will be back on Coney Island Thursday evening when they open their three-game set with Connecticut. The first 2,000 fans in attendance that night will receive a Pink Trucker Cap courtesy of Maimonides Medical Center to promote the team’s Breast Cancer Awareness Night. … Tice broke up the ValleyCats’ bid for a no-hitter Tuesday night by ripping a single with two out in the sixth inning. … Sharp has reached base safely in a team season-high 24 consecutive games. He kept the streak alive by drawing a seventh-inning walk against Tri-City.