It’s very rare that any baseball team excels in all three major aspects of the sport – timely hitting, clutch pitching and strong defense – in any one particular game.
If a team does do that, it usually isn’t a short season Single-A team. But the Brooklyn Cyclones enjoyed a complete effort in a 4-0 victory Monday evening over the Hudson Valley Renegades, the short season affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays, to cap off a two-game series sweep.
The Cyclones move back to the .500 mark (20-20) for the first time since early in the season. The win also ends a 35-day drought of being under .500 – one day shy of the franchise mark of 36 set back in 2006. The Cyclones wound up earning a wild-card berth that season.
Brooklyn has now won a season-high five straight games and pulls within two games of first place in McNamara Division of the New York-Penn League behind the Renegades. Not too long ago, the Cyclones were in last place.
“You have to get to the point before you can get beyond the point,” said Cyclones’ manager Rich Donnelly about getting back to .500. “I sound like Casey Stengel! We’ve played good ball the last week. Every time we make a good play, I write it down, and my card is full.”
During the streak, the team’s starting pitching has done the yeoman’s work. Cyclones’ starters have turned in six straight quality starts, including six innings of shutout ball Monday night from lefty Carlos Valdez, who picked up his first win of the season after scattering just four hits. Brooklyn starters managed only seven quality starts through the team’s first 34 games.
Reliever Akeel Morris followed with three scoreless innings. In 25 innings this season, Morris has not surrendered an earned run.
“We’ve been pitching really well, and the offense has been coming through with guys in scoring position,” said left fielder Jared King, who extended his home hitting streak to seven games. “That’s what you need to do to win…just execute and we’ve been good at that the last couple of weeks.”
The Cyclones got on the board early with a home run from first baseman Matt Oberste – his second of the season – to leadoff the bottom of the second inning. The Cyclones are now 16-6 in games when scoring first.
Valdez faced the minimum through the first three innings, and his team gave him some insurance in the bottom of the fourth. Back-to-back doubles from designated hitter Alex Sanchez and right fielder James Roche – the latter of which was a chopper over the third base bag that plated two runs – put Brooklyn ahead 3-0.
“I was looking for a pitch to drive in that spot,” Roche said. “I didn’t quite drive it, but I hit it in the right stop. That’s all that counted there.”
Oberste scored the team’s fourth run in the bottom of the fifth on a two-out error by Renegades’ shortstop Julian Morillo.
The Cyclones will head on the road Tuesday for six-games, starting with a three-game series against the Williamsport Crosscutters. Seth Lugo will attempt to keep Brooklyn’s streak of quality starts alive as he takes the hill.
Click here to view the complete box score of this game.