Cyclones hope to avert late summer fade
Brooklyn drops second straight in error-prone loss to Vermont
Since claiming sole possession of first place in the McNamara Division standings back on Aug. 18, the Brooklyn Cyclones have played more like a team eager to extend its postseason drought rather than end it.
The Baby Bums have lost seven of 10 games since inching past first-place Hudson Valley a week and a half ago, including Monday night’s humbling 9-3 loss to Vermont in front of 1,052 fans at Centennial Field.
Brooklyn committed three errors in the contest, giving it seven fielding miscues over the first two games of the series, which was scheduled to conclude Tuesday night.
With the loss, the Cyclones (36-32) fell five games behind the division-leading Renegades with only seven games to play, dashing any serious hopes of capturing the McNamara crown.
Brooklyn did, however, maintain a half-game advantage over Auburn in the tightly packed hunt for the New York-Penn League’s lone wild-card spot. Arch rival Staten Island remained one game back of the Cyclones and Vermont pulled within a game and a half with Tuesday night’s victory.
Having missed out on the playoffs for five consecutive summers, the Cyclones appeared primed to finally break through and bring postseason baseball back to our fair borough this year.
But this recent stretch has put those hopes in serious doubt, leaving Brooklyn with a serious challenge once it returns to Coney Island.
After finishing up with the Lake Monsters on Tuesday, the Cyclones will host the defending NY-Penn champion Renegades for three games on Surf Avenue before finishing up the campaign with three huge contests against the playoff-hopeful Yankees.
Though this season has been a major upgrade after going a franchise-worst 24-52 last season, second-year manager Edgardo Alfonzo’s unit must find a way to navigate this treacherous final stretch to get itself into a best-of-3 first-round postseason series.
This latest defeat began with a bang for the second straight night as NY-Penn All-Star Game MVP Ross Adolph led off with a homer. But Brooklyn starter Jose Butto (1-2) was reached for three runs on four hits with four walks and three strikeouts over 4 1/3 frames, leaving the mound with the Cyclones facing a 3-2 deficit.
From there, Brooklyn relievers Yeudy Colon and Tommy Wilson combined to surrender six runs, only three of which were earned due to another collective poor defensive effort.
After committing four errors in Monday night’s series opener, the Cyclones saved their worst for last Tuesday.
Hot-hitting third baseman Brian Sharp, who has reached base safely in 28 consecutive contests, was responsible for three unearned runs in the bottom of the eighth after his poor throw to first base allowed Marcos Brito to score and opened the door for Jeremy Eierman’s two-run homer off Colon.
Though they are still very much in control of their own playoff destiny, the Cyclones can’t continue to give games away.
Right-hander Tylor Megill (0-2, 3.91 ERA), the team’s eighth-round pick out of the University of Arizona in this year’s MLB Draft, was slated to toe the rubber Tuesday in the finale against Vermont.
Megill, who will be making just his second start in 10 appearances, was reached for two runs on five hits over four innings in last Wednesday’s 7-6 loss at Tri-City.
Adolph finished 3-for-5 with a run scored and two RBIs Tuesday while catcher Nick Meyer added a pair of hits for the Cyclones, who went a dismal 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
If Brooklyn fails to hold off Auburn and Staten Island for the wild card, it will doubtlessly look back on this late-season malaise as the major factor in yet another non-playoff campaign.
This, That and the Other Thing: Adolph has done his best to keep the Cyclones’ playoff hopes afloat during this tough stretch, batting .355 with four homers and 10 RBIs over his last 10 games. The Baby Bums’ leadoff hitter and starting left fielder has blasted a team-leading seven homers this summer after the Mets selected him with their 12th-round pick out of Toledo in June. The 21-year-old Findlay, Ohio native also has amassed seven doubles, a league-leading 11 triples and 10 stolen bases, making him one of the more impressive all-around prospects in recent Cyclones history. “Just kind of growing and adapting to the change of professional ball from college,” Adolph told MiLB.com at this month’s All-Star Game in State College, Pennsylvania. “At first, it was just a slow change and trying to get into a routine. But now I’m feeling comfortable and it’s awesome to see how far I’ve come and, hopefully, I can continue to carry it over.” … The season-ending Battle of the Bridge series between the Cyclones and Yankees figures to take on added significance this weekend as both teams are vying for the wild card. Brooklyn will host Staten Island here on Saturday and Monday, while taking the short trek over the Verrazano on Sunday. If the teams finish tied for the final playoff spot, their head-to-head record will determine which club advances. Thus far this season, the Yankees hold a 5-4 lead in the intra-borough rivalry.