Cyclones One Up With 13 To Go in Wild-Card Hunt
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The scoreboard watching is over as far as Brooklyn Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa is concerned.
At least, for now it is.
With only 13 games remaining on the grueling New York-Penn League summer slate, the Baby Bums find themselves one game ahead of the Connecticut Tigers for the 15-team circuit’s fourth and final playoff spot.
That means the Cyclones no longer need to see what the Tigers do on a nightly basis, as long as they themselves continue winning at the torrid pace they have established since mid-July.
“If we just win our games, we don’t have to worry about what someone else does,” Gamboa noted after Brooklyn took care of business with its fifth consecutive win, 7-3, at Vermont on Monday night.
“We’re in control of our own destiny,” the first-year skipper added as Casey Meisner struck out 10 over 6 2/3 innings and Jhoan Urena and Michael Conforto each drove in a pair of runs for the playoff-hungry Cyclones.
Gamboa’s squad seemed incapable of controlling a routine groundball, much less a heated chase for the NY-Penn Wild Card at this time last month.
They were mired in a season-high eight-game losing streak, and had committed five errors in back-to-back extra-inning losses to punctuate that skid of futility.
But the arrival of star outfielder Conforto, the Mets’ first-round pick in the June MLB Draft, and the ongoing prowess of Brooklyn’s pitching staff has propelled the Cyclones to a 21-9 run since July 19.
At 35-28, Brooklyn has reached its high-water mark for the season, and is unwilling to sink back into oblivion as the final few days tick off the 76-game schedule.
“We’ll do what we can these last 13 (games) to see if we can get in these playoffs for these Brooklyn fans,” Gamboa said as his unit prepared for Wednesday night’s visit to rival Staten Island before hosting the Yankees on Thursday to kick off a four-game homestand.
Rehabbing Mets right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka will be Brooklyn’s starter on Thursday against the Baby Bombers.
The 33-year-old Japanese hurler was placed on the disabled list June 29 with inflammation in his right elbow.
Though he likely won’t be able to help the parent club make a late-season playoff push, he can do his part to get the Cyclones into the postseason, something they failed to achieve here last summer.
Gamboa received the honor of managing the South squad during Tuesday night’s NY-Penn All-Star Game at MCU Park as the eighth annual late-summer classic ended in a 1-1 tie.
Three Cyclones hurlers – starter Marcos Molina, Corey Oswalt and closer Shane Bay – combined to toss 2 1/3 scoreless innings in the draw.
Molina fanned two in his only inning of work, fresh off receiving the NY-Penn’s Pitcher of the Week award for his 20 strikeouts over his previous two outings.
The 19-year-old righty is 6-2 with a 1.58 ERA in 10 starts for Brooklyn this summer and has yet to allow a home run.
"He's had such a terrific season at 19," Gamboa told MiLB.com following Molina’s brief but impressive All-Star stint.
"I just saw recently where he's the No. 16 prospect in the Mets' farm system. My answer to that is, if we have 15 players better than him, then the Mets are headed for the World Series in the not-too-distant future because I just see him on the fast track."
Brooklyn All-Stars Urena, Amed Rosario and Michael Bernal went a combined 0-for-5 at the plate Tuesday night as pitching ruled the contest, which was called after nine innings.
"I anticipated a 1-0 or 2-1 game because when you throw 10 pitchers in nine innings, the hitters don't get a chance to get any rhythm at all," Gamboa said. "They're facing somebody different each time up there, so when a pitcher knows what he's going to throw and where he's going to throw it, and a hitter doesn't have any rhythm to gauge off that, it gives the pitching an enormous advantage, which was shown in the game tonight."
This, That and the Other Thing: C Tomas Nido didn’t get an invite to the All-Star Game, but Brooklyn’s backstop has been the hottest hitter on the team during the stretch run toward the playoffs. Nido, currently on an eight-game hitting streak, is batting .412 (14-for-34) with a homer and seven RBIs over his last 10 games. He has had three multi-hit efforts during that stretch, including a pair of three-hit games. … RHP Oswalt also pitched a scoreless frame during Tuesday’s All-Star Game and Bay got the final out for the South squad, albeit in a non-save situation. … The Cyclones’ final 13 games feature seven matchups with the Yankees, including the Sept. 1 regular-season finale at Richmond County Bank Ballpark. Staten Island (31-31) is 3 ½ games off the wild-card pace.