By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Cyclones pitchers learned a valuable lesson from their major league brethren before throwing a single pitch for borough's Class A short-season franchise by the sea.
“They got to go watch [Mets knuckle-balling ace] R.A. Dickey warm up in Spring Training. They got to watch [former Cyclones right-hander] Dillon Gee and [Mets starter] Chris Young… see how they do stuff," Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly intimated. "Our pitching coach [Marc Valdes] always tells them, ‘Watch these guys across the river. They throw strikes.'”
If imitation is the fondest form of flattery, the Baby Bums' young hurlers have mastered the art of fine markmanship via mimickry.
Through two games, Brooklyn pitchers have struck out 21 batters while issuing only two walks over 18 innings. Luis Mateo (1-0) fanned nine while walking one over 5-2/3 strong innings in Tuesday night's 4-1 victory at Staten Island, spoiling the Yankees' home opener before a crowd of nearly 6,000 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark.
Mateo, who averaged just over 11 strikeouts per nine innings during his first season of pro ball in the Domincan Summer League last year, limited the Baby Bombers to one earned run on two hits before Huntington, N.Y., native John Mincone tossed 2-1/3 perfect frames with one strikeout and no free passes in his Brooklyn debut.
Jeremy Gould, who went 1-3 with a 3.26 ERA with five saves in 26 appearances for the Cyclones last summer, followed suit with a dominant ninth, closing out the defending New York-Penn League champions by striking out the side as the Baby Bums improved to 2-0.
"Dillon Gee's in the big leagues because he throws strikes. [Mets left-hander] Jonathan Niese is in the big leagues because he throws strikes," Donnelly re-emhasized. "That's how you do it at the big league level. You throw it over the plate and you catch it. That's what [Valdes] and I tell these guys."
The back-to-back pitching gems nearly mirrored the performances of Dickey and Mets left-hander Johan Santana, who spent Monday and Tuesday throwing back-to-back shutouts against the Baltimore Orioles at Citi Field.
Perhaps more importantly, however, the Cyclones have gotten the early jump on their arch rivals, who finished just a half-game ahead of them last season for the McNamara Division crown before eliminating Brooklyn in a decisive Game 3 of their first-round playoff series.
The Brooklyn offense, though yet to bust out on the scoreboard, proved the more opportunistic unit for the second straight game.
Kevin Plawecki, the Mets' supplemental first-round pick out of Purdue earlier this month, started behind the plate and was uncermoniously plunked by Yankee starter Gabriel Encinas (0-1) in his first profesional at-bat leading off the second inning. Plawecki would eventually score on an error later in the inning and left fielder Jonathan Clark added a sacrifice fly as Brooklyn jumped out to an early 2-0 lead.
The Yanks responded in the third with their first, and thus far only, run of the season as Saxon Butler sent Mateo's offering over the center-field fence to open the inning. However, the 6-foot-3 Dominican right-hander fanned the next three batters, ending any hopes of a Staten Island rally.
Eudy Pina added a run-scoring groundout in the fourth and first-round pick Brandon Nimmo walked and scored on first baseman Cole Frenzel's single in the seventh to cap the scoring for the Cyclones, who improved to 11-5 in their last 16 regular-season meetings with the Baby Bombers.
The season-opening four-game series continues Wednesday night in Staten Island before returning to MCU Park for Thursday evening's finale.
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This, That and the Other Thing: 1B Frenzel, one of only three returnees from last year's Brooklyn squad, finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI Tuesday night. ... The Cyclones committed their first two errors of the young season Tuesday as 3B Alexander Sanchez made an errant throw in the second inning and 2B Juan Carlos Gamboa booted a grounder in the seventh. Neither misplay came back to haunt the Cyclones. ... The Cyclones, who lost their long-time announcer Warner Fusselle to a heart attack just over a week before the season opener, recently announced their new radio deal with Seton Hall's WSOU (89.5). The station will use a young team of announcers to call the Cyclones' 76-game season. “With the unexpected passing of Warner Fusselle earlier this week, we knew that there would be a hole in our broadcast that no individual could fill,” Cyclones General Manager Steve Cohen stated. “But based on Warner’s history as the play-by-play announcer for Seton Hall Basketball, and his affinity for helping up-and-coming broadcasters get started in the business, we thought this was a perfect match. Plus, we all know that Warner was doing the work of at least three men during his years as the Voice of the Cyclones.”