Brooklyn's "Fantastic Four" represented the best pitching staff in the New York-Penn League with the same level of dominance they have displayed throughout the regular season for the wild card-leading Cyclones during the 14-team circuit's All-Star Game Tuesday night in Niles, Ohio.
National League starter Luis Mateo, southpaw reliever John Mincone (1-0), "Almost Perfect" right-hander Hansel Robles and strike-throwing machine Gabriel Ynoa combined to toss 3 2/3 scoreless innings as the NL cruised to an 8-1 victory over the AL in the annual "Late-Summer Classic" before a crowd of 5,897 at Mahoning Valley's Eastwood Field.
Brooklyn manager Rich Donnelly, who admitted following Sunday's 10-5 victory over Vermont at Coney Island's MCU Park that he was not exactly a big fan of All-Star events, had to take pride in hearing how his hurlers shut down the best hitters from the rival AL affiliates.
Mateo, who is 4-4 with a 2.82 ERA in nine starts with two NY-Penn Pitcher of the Week Awards for Brooklyn thus far this summer, kicked the evening off by striking out two of the three batters he faced in the opening frame.
Mincone, the Huntington, N.Y. native with a dazzling 0.39 ERA and four saves out of the Cyclones' bullpen, came on in the bottom of the second with one on and one out before fanning Joel Hutter and Danry Vasquez.
The NL squad got its first run in the top of the third on a sacrifice fly by Breyvic Valera, snapping a scoreless deadlock and putting Mincone in line for the win.
Robles, who tossed 7 2/3 perfect innings at MCU Park last Friday night before finishing with eight one-hit frames in Brooklyn's eventual 1-0 victory over the Lake Monsters, worked around a two-out triple in the third in his only inning of work.
Ynoa, owner of an eye-popping 45-7 strikeout-to-walk deficit in 55 innings this year, struck out two in a scoreless eighth to pick up a hold.
“He’s a strike-thrower. He knows how to pitch," Donnelly, who decided to remain behind in Brooklyn rather than attend the game, which was played near his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio, said of Ynoa Sunday. "Not too many guys 19 years old can spot a fastball the way he can.”
Overall, the Coney Island quartet struck out six while allowing only two hits and did not walk a batter.
Brooklyn (34-20), which leads the league with a 2.50 ERA and 163 runs allowed, will get back to the business of hunting down first-place Hudson Valley (35-19) in the McNamara Division race Wednesday night by starting a critical six-game road trip at Stedler Division-leading Tri-City (40-14), which owns the best overall record in the NY-Penn.
Jamestown outfielder Juancito Martinez, who went 2-for-2 with an RBI, a run scored and two steals Tuesday night, earned All-Star MVP honors. His manager with the Jammers, Angel Espada, who also served as the NL skipper, couldn't help but envy the pitching-rich Cyclones.
"They're all great Mets arms, and they're all arms that really impressed me today," Espada told MiLB.com. "You can tell the future of that system is very bright. As the years go by, hopefully they have great careers and I can say someday that I managed them in the 2012 All-Star Game."
Donnelly is fortunate enough to be managing this crop of budding prospects every day.
“For the most part our pitching has been doing it all year," he noted after watching Rainy Lara pick up his league-leading seventh win against Vermont on Sunday.
The Cyclones, who have won three straight and eight of 10 to pull within one game of the Renegades, will be put to the test immediately following the two-day break, taking on the ValleyCats in six of their next nine games. A three-game series with league-worst Staten Island and two games at Aberdeen will precede a critical home-and-home set with Hudson Valley from Aug. 29-30.
Regardless of whether they catch the Renegades or not down the stretch, the Baby Bums appear to have given themselves a comfortable cushion for the league's lone wild-card spot, which they also won under Donnelly with a late-season push in 2011. The Cyclones lead State College (28-26) by six games for the fourth and final playoff berth.
This, That and the Other Thing: RHP Robles was rewarded for his near-masterpiece Friday night by receiving the New York-Penn League Pitcher of the Week Award on Monday. Over his last seven starts, the 22-year-old Dominican, who celebrated his birthday the day after firing his gem, has yielded only four earned runs on 23 hits over 39 innings. He has also struck out 39 batters during that stretch. ... Former Brooklyn 1B Cole Frenzel, who was promoted last month after leading the Cyclones with a .342 average in 19 games, hasn't exactly been lighting up at Class A Savannah thus far. The power-hitting infielder has belted three homers and driven in 10 runs in 31 games for the Sand Gnats this year, but is batting just .205, including a paltry .135 over his last 10 games. ... The Cyclones rank dead last in team batting average (.243) and 12th in runs scored (208) in the 14-team NY-Penn. ... CF Brandon Nimmo is third in the league in walks (30) and second in doubles (18).