Command Eludes Brooklyn in Opening Day Defeat

BROOKLYN, NY- Heavy rains and severe winds may have postponed the Brooklyn Cyclones’ season opener against the Staten Island Yankees, but it did not dampen the intensity or anticipation as the Cyclones played their home opener at MCU Park on Tuesday, falling to their arch-rivals by a 7-4 final.

The pop and circumstances that surround Opening Day can sometimes have an adverse affect on most pitchers and for Cyclones’ starter Jake Simon, it appeared to negatively impact his command. Simon hit two and walked three in the first three innings and found his club trailing 3-0 on a run-scoring double from Dom Thompson-Williams and an Oswaldo Cabrera two-run single. In four innings of work, Simon allowed two hits and three runs along with four walks and two hit batsmen.

“Simon did a pretty good job for us,” Cyclones manager Edgardo Alfonzo said. “I think he did what we expected to happen and he kept us in the game. We had a good chance to win, but we did not finish and baseball is like that sometimes.”

The Cyclones took a few innings to adapt to Staten Island starter Jorge Guzman, but once Jacob Zanon and Leon Byrd opened the fourth with successive walks they began chipping away at the deficit. Carlos Sanchez‘s two-run double off the left field fence was the key hit in a three-run frame as the Cyclones evened the score.

Guzman, acquired in the offseason trade by the Yankees from the Astros for Brian McCann, asserted himself capably in his New York-Penn League debut, striking out four in five innings for his first victory and suppressed hard contact with a fastball sitting primarily in the upper 90s.

“He’s got electric stuff,” Staten Island manager Julio Mosquera said. One of the really good arms we have in the (Yankees) organization and I think he controlled himself really well out there and picked up a little extra to get out of the fifth inning.”

Joe Napolitano also experienced bouts of wildness in relief for Brooklyn. The righty out of Wake Forest walked two in the fifth to set up a two-RBI triple from Dalton Blaser in a four-run inning for Staten Island, who saw seven men come to the plate. Cyclones’ pitchers walked nine and hit three, illustrating their difficulties commanding pitches.

“Napolitano is one of the veteran guys. He is going to have outings like this sometimes,” Alfonzo explains. “His first inning was rough. I think it’s good to get those things out of the way early. Napolitano did a great job for us in extended spring training and his second inning in this game was more polished.”

Catcher Carlos Sanchez had a trying outing behind the plate with three passed balls, which allowed opposing runners to take the extra base and set up extended rallies. Alfonzo says Sanchez’s defensive performance is not indicative of his potential and expects him to revert to the form expected from his billing.

“I think this guy is special and he knows how to play the game. I told him tonight that it’s going to happen but you have to concentrate and do what you have to do. When he came through with the big hit, it was touching because he will drive in runs.”

With the loss, the Cyclones fall to 12-5 on Opening Day and are 10-4 against Staten Island since the clubs began facing each other to open the season beginning in 2005. Following Tuesday’s game, the Cyclones will travel to Vermont for a three-game series against the Lake Monsters with Thomas McIlraith making the start on Wednesday while he rehabs from an injury suffered last month.

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