Lutz’s Two RBIs and Solid Pitching from Martinez and Company Give Baby Bums Opening Day Win
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Wednesday, June 18, 2008
BROOKLYN, NY - Cyclones third baseman Zach Lutz had almost a full year to think about how he was going to play last night. Breaking his right foot at Keyspan Park on Opening Day last season, Lutz had season-ending surgery a few weeks later and was stuck at home while the Clones made a playoff run that left them two wins away from a New York Penn League Championship.
Now a year later, it’s safe to say that the former fifth round pick is back and better than ever. Powering a 3-2 Cyclones win over the rival Staten Island Yankees with two RBI and a walk, Lutz is ready to put 2007 behind him.
“Before the game, I was thinking about last year,” said Lutz. “It was on my mind a lot during infield practice. But after I got that first at bat out of the way, I felt great. This was the way I was hoping my first game back would go.”
Despite two walks in the top of the first, Cyclones Opening Day starter, Pedro P. Martinez hurled a scoreless frame and kept the Yankee bats dormant early on.
In the last half of the first, the Cyclones scored the first run of the 2008 season, as Lutz stroked a line drive over Yankee third basemen Michael Lyon’s head for a two bagger, giving the Mets Single-A affiliate a 1-0 lead.
“I had two strikes on me and I was just looking to put the ball in play any way I could,” said Lutz. “I got a pitch up in zone, turned on it and wound up getting a double.”
Lutz’s glove, however, wasn’t nearly as solid as his bat early on, as an error on a hard hit ground ball in the fifth moved Lyon over to third base and allowed him to score later on a Melky Mesa single.
However, that would be all the offense the Yankees could muster off the “other Pedro,” as Martinez, who ironically has the same number as his big league counterpart, gave up 4 hits in 4 1/3 innings pitched. Leaving the game in the fifth with the score 1-1, in favor of left-handed reliever Jimmy Johnson, Martinez wouldn’t be eligible for the win, but pitched well in his Brooklyn debut. Retiring the first two hitters he faced in the inning, Johnson kept the game tied at 1-1.
With the score still tied in the fifth, the Yankees, too, had problems on the field, as shortstop Brandon Richey reached on an error by Lyon, putting the go ahead run at first. The next hitter, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, singled, putting Richey in scoring position for Lutz. With runners on the corners with no outs, Lutz grounded out to Yankees second baseman David Adams, scoring Richey and giving the Cyclones their second lead of the night at 2-1.
The Baby Bums weren’t done sending runners home in the inning however, as outfielder John Servidio doubled down the line to score Nieuwenhuis, extending the Clones lead to 3-1.
Johnson lasted only out into the sixth however, giving up a walk and a single, before being replaced by Wendy Rosa. Rosa, too, ran into problems in the sixth though, walking Lyon to load the bases for Mitch Abeita, but was able to strikeout the big Yankee catcher to end the inning and keep the lead intact.
Rosa was still going strong into the ninth, hurling 2 2/3 scoreless frames before giving way to converted shortstop-turned reliever Yury Santana.
Like the Mets pitcher who shares the same surname, Santana wasted no time on the mound and earned his first save of the season, striking out two and getting the Yankees in order, thanks in part to a nifty play from Lutz at third with two out.
“They came in and shut it down,” said Richey of Rosa’s and Santana’s performances. “The jitters are out and this team is ready to play now.”
With their first win under their belts, the Mets Single-A affiliate will take their cross-Bridge rivals home tomorrow for the second game of the series, before coming back to Keyspan for the final game of the series on Thursday.
Promising a better team this season than the one that was two wins short of a championship last season, Alfonzo promises this is only the beginning of what he sees as a very successful season.
“We want to show the fans we have a good team this year,” said Alfonzo. “They support us and we want to win here.”
Notes- 2008 Mets first round pick Reese Havens did not play due to elbow soreness and according to Alfonzo, should be ready to go in about a week.
“He’s going to be out five-six days. We have to be patient with him. He wanted to play today. He’s a gamer. He was off for a week (between signing with the organization and the Cyclones work outs) and he tried to throw the ball a little and he did too much. I don’t think it’s anything serious.”