(MCU Park, home of the Cyclones – Photo by Neil Miller – Sportsday Wire)
Stop the presses! The New York Mets are the hottest team in baseball!
No, not those Mets. Just about a 30-minute drive from Flushing, the big club’s Single-A short-season affiliate in Coney Island is off to one of their hottest starts in team history.
Having only one New York-Penn League Championship to their name, which occurred in their inaugural season of 2001, the Brooklyn Cyclones seem like the sure front-runners to contend for the title 14 years later.
The Cyclones currently boast an NYPL-best record of 14-5, behind some solid pitching. Sound familiar?
In the month of July alone, Brooklyn has allowed just seven earned runs in eight games. Entering Friday’s contest, the Cyclone relievers had pitched to a tune of a 1.26 earned-run average, yielding just one run in 22.1 frames in July.
What has been the story though with this team’s hot start? Maybe it’s the presence of having a face of a franchise that has won in the past. If you didn’t know already, former Mets’ All-Star infielder and 2000 National League champion Edgardo Alfonzo serves as the team’s bench and third-base coach.
However, Brooklyn has also had its faults.
This team, like the big club, struggles with the bat. Despite hitting .227 as a club, two Brooklyn sluggers (Vincent Siena, Michael Bernal), both of whom were in the lineup in Friday’s 1-0 win against Hudson Valley, rank in the Top-6 in the league in hitting.
A one-out RBI double by Tucker Tharp in the third inning was all it took to decide the game, before the clouds hovered over MCU Park and a strike of lightning caused the field to be cleared.
The lone run of the contest was set up by an Enmanuel Zabala infield single. Two batters later, Tharp ripped a pitch into left-center that split the two Renegade outfielders and accounted for the game’s only run.
Hudson Valley had a golden opportunity to even things up in the top of the sixth. Jake Cronenworth led off the inning with a stand-up triple, but right-handed reliever Andrew Church induced a pop-up from his next batter and struck out the next two to escape unscathed.
Church tossed three innings of three-strikeout, one-walk ball to earn the win for the Cyclones.
Friday’s starter, Blake Taylor, nearly mirrored Church’s line. He surrendered one hit and fanned three in three innings of work. His night was cut short, however, as Taylor left the game with forearm soreness, only minutes after the breaking news was released that Steven Matz would miss three weeks with a partial tear of his lat muscle.
If Taylor’s name doesn’t sound familiar, he was the player to be named later acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates for Ike Davis. Taylor was the Bucs’ second-round pick (No. 51 overall) in the 2013 MLB First-Year Player Draft. He was ranked the 40th-best prospect of his draft class by ESPN.
The Cyclones, much like the infamous coaster that sits beyond the left-field wall, are rolling. They are officially one-quarter of the way through a 76-game season and hold a three-game lead over the rival Staten Island Yankees in the McNamara Division.
The big club will always grab all of the attention, but take a day to catch the baseball team that plays in Brooklyn.
Grab a hot dog from Nathan’s, take a stroll on the boardwalk, and make your way down Surf Avenue to MCU Park. The Cyclones are certainly worth seeing.