BROOKLYN, NY – As Major League Baseball continues its All-Star break, its fans can turn their attention to the minor leagues as the Brooklyn Cyclones were in the midst of a four-game winning streak entering Thursday’s play. With recent additions Justin Dunn, Peter Alonso, and Michael Paez joining the fold, the Cyclones are playing inspired baseball and looked to climb above the .500 plateau for the first them this season. Facing the Lowell Spinners at MCU Park, the Cyclones had their chances at the plate failed to push across a run in a 1-0 defeat, to snap a season-best four game winning streak.
The Spinners and Cyclones combined for 13 runs in separate runs on Wednesday, but offense proved hard to come by in their first meeting against each other this season. Facing Red Sox top southpaw pitching prospect Brian Johnson on a rehab assignment, the Cyclones were kept off the scoreboard for five innings. “My gameplan was to attack both sides of the plate and mix in my cutter and my slider. In my second time through the order, I got a little more aggressive and mixed in my other pitchers more,” Johnson said.
The Cyclones appeared poised to get the game’s first run in the third inning, but a 7-6-2 relay to home plate retired Arnaldo Berrios after a double by Michael Paez in his home debut. Using both sides of the plate, Johnson kept Cyclones hitters off balance, pitching five scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and striking out five, including Colby Woodmansee in his first two at-bats. “We faced a major league pitcher who was on rehab assignment and he carved through our lineup pretty good,” Cyclones manager Tom Gamboa said. “His Triple-A experience showed to our hitters.”
As Johnson was gaining confidence in his rehab outing, his opposite number Harol Gonzalez had a no-hitter through six innings, surrendering just a walk and a hit by pitch to leadoff hitter Matt McLean. For much of the night it appeared Gonzalez would make history, but the Spinners collected their first hit when Ryan Scott opened the seventh inning with a single to right field. Gonzalez would keep the game scoreless, lasting 6.2 innings with just one hit on the ledger. “Gonzalez completely overmatched their guys. It was a great game for the fans to watch. You want to come out on top, but it just wasn’t meant to be tonight.”
The Spinners, who had difficulty garnering a hit for six innings, broke the stalemate in the eighth inning against reliever Taylor Henry. With Victor Acosta at third base, Paez threw a ground ball errantly to first base to score the run and give the Spinners a 1-0 advantage.
Down to their final three outs in the ninth inning, the Cyclones appeared to show life with the bats and had runners at the corners with one out as Jay Jabs stepped to the plate against reliever Dioscar Romero. As Jabs lofted a short fly ball beyond the first base line in foul territory, Woodmansee tagged from third base and the throw by Chris Madera beat him to the plate to secure a victory for the Spinners and a heartbreaking defeat for Brooklyn.
“My whole career I preached that when you are in doubt you have to be aggressive. The moment the ball went up if I were coaching third I would have been screaming to tag. With the second baseman with his back turned and our ninth place hitter due up, you are down to one out. If I don’t send him I would be up all night second guessing myself,” Gamboa explains.
In defeat, the Cyclones have lost 11 of 18 games decided by two runs or less and are 7-7 in games decided by one run. Brooklyn’s 14th one-run game is the most in the New York-Penn League this season. On Friday the Cyclones will send Merandy Gonzalez to the mound, looking to return to the .500 mark and put them in a position to potentially finish above that position for the first time since August 6, 2015. Darwinzon Hernandez, initially scheduled to face the Cyclones before the Red Sox assigned Johnson to Lowell, will start for the Spinners, who now sit one game behind the Connecticut Tigers in the Stedler Division.