Baby Mets Lose To Baby Yanks in Brooklyn

Published on: 2nd July, 2010

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Baby Mets Lose To Baby Yanks in Brooklyn  | read this item

Brooklyn – The Mets and Yankees are not the only winning teams in New York, these days. Out in the Coney Island section of Brooklyn, the Mets affiliate single A team, the Cyclones have been tearing it up in the New York-Penn League this season with a 9-4 record and a solid grip on first place in their division.

Tonight, they faced off against their local rivals, the Staten Island Yankees on a breezy summer night at MCU Park, the ballpark by the ocean. Brooklyn, 2.5 games ahead of the second-place Yankee farm team were playing against the Staten Islanders for the fourth time this season, the Cyclones holding a 2-1edge.

This wasn’t one of Brookyn’s best games, however. Several mishaps in the field and some loose relief pitching contributed to the Cyclones’ 8-5 loss to the Yankees.

Brooklyn manager, Wally Backman, of 1986 Mets world championship fame, has continued his winning ways as a field leader as he has his team playing what has become known in these parts as “Wally Ball.”

What exactly does that mean?

“It’s playing hit and run, taking the extra base whenever we can, bunting, stealing bases, and putting pressure on the opposing team at all times,” Backman said before tonight’s game. “It’s also about getting solid pitching and defense.”

No one connected with this years’ team had seen so many poor game decisions as they did tonight. however. One onlooker mentioned that this great, little stadium located on Brooklyns’ southern tip had recently hosted a concert by a new band called Furthur, fronted by former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir and Phil Lesh. Other than the unsightly patches of brown dirt left on the outfield grass by the stage, one has to wonder, after so many strange plays by the Brooklyners if the old rock icons from the sixties had left anything else on the field to dull the players’ decision-making abilities.

The Yankees got off quickly in the top of the first when they scored an unearned run on an error by first baseman Jeff Flagg, who, with a runner on third, couldn’t figure out whether to step on the bag himself on a ground ball or toss it to the pitcher covering, Wes Wrenn. He finally tossed it but not until the runner had safely crossed first and the lead runner on third base had scored.

“I think Jeff just had a little bit of a brain cramp on that play,” said Backman. “The runner was dead out at the plate if Jeff threw the ball home.” Did Backman say Dead, as in Grateful Dead?

Down the one run, Cody Holliday led off the Cyclones half of the first with a double down the left field line off of Staten Island’s hard-throwing Wilton Rodriguez, who came in with an 0-3 record along with a 3.48 ERA. Darrell Ceciliani, the Cyclones’ leading hitter with a .404 average, promptly jumped on a Rodriguez fastball for another double, scoring Holliday.

Cory Vaughn, Backman’s third place hitter and the son of former major leaguer, Greg Vaughn, grounded to second for the first out, moving Ceciliani to third. Up stepped Flagg, with a chance to redeem himself for his error and to get the run in from third base. Instead, he swung at a pitch in the dirt for strike three. J.B. Brown however, picked him up with a line single to center putting the Cyclones ahead, 2-1.

In the bottom of the second inning, Brooklyn second baseman Luis Nieves singled with one out and stole second. Holliday grounded to second, moving Nieves to third base with Ceciliani, fast becoming a Backman favorite, stepping in. The 20-year old prospect once again showed why he is getting noticed within the Mets organization. He jumped on the first pitch and drove it to left center for his second double of the game and his second rbi in two innings.   

Wrenn, Brooklyn’s 24-year old pitcher, was sailing along through 4 2/3 innings, holding the Yankees to just three hits until, with two outs in the the fifth, Luis Parache, a .150 hitting infielder pulled a pitch down the right field line, barely clearing the fence. On the very next serving by Wrenn, Eduardo Sosa, he of the .237 batting average hit an absolute bomb of a home run, also to right field that would have cleared Citifield with ease, tying the game at 3-3. Wrenn struck out the next batter to end the fifth but his unexplained lapses had let the Staten Islanders back into the game. The Grateful Dead affect?

When Wrenn gave up two more singles to start the top of the sixth, Backman went out to get him, bringing in Ryan Fraser, a 6’4” hard-throwing righty. Fraser, a bit of a Jekyl and Hyde on the mound, had struck out five in his three innings this year but had also averaged more than one walk per inning, not unusual for hard-throwers in Single A baseball. The young pitcher may not always know where the ball is going but his wildness didn’t rear its head when he faced his first hitter, Kelvin DeLeon with runners on first and third. He whiffed the Yankees outfielder on three consecutive hard sliders and followed that with two consecutive strikes to Kevin Mahoney until he reverted back to his wild side, throwing four straight balls to walk the Yankees’ sixth place hitter and load the bases with just one out.

Fraser got two quick strikes on Ferraro, the next hitter who was batting just .158, before he blew the hitter away with a high hard fastball.  Now, there were two out and bases loaded.

Farnham, Staten Island’s seventh place hitter, whiffed at Fraser’s first two fastballs then worked the count to 2-2. On the next pitch, Fraser showed his wild side again by throwing the ball three feet wide of his catcher as the ball rolled to the backstop, the runner scoring from third to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.  On the next pitch, Farnham hit it solidly into centerfield for a single, two runs scoring, and the Staten Islanders, just like that, had opened up a 6-3 lead. 

Brooklyn fought back in their half of the sixth inning. Sandoval led off with a single. Nieves followed with a long triple to right center, driving in the fourth run of the game for the home team. After a ground out to first kept the runner from scoring, it was Ceciliani’s turn again. The youngster, looking the part of a disciplined hitter with a good idea of the strike zone, walked on four pitches, leaving Vaughn, the number three hitter, to step in with runners on first and third. Vaughn grounded to second but his hustle down the line beat the throw to first to prevent a double play. The run scored and it was now, 6-5.

In the top of the eighth, with the bases loaded for Staten Island and one out, Flagg, Brooklyn’s first baseman, had difficulty once again with deciding whether to toss the ball to the pitcher covering first or to take it himself. He didn’t make the connection with his pitcher, the runner beat the late throw to first, and Staten Island had their seventh run of the night.

In the eighth, more poor decision-making affected the game’s outcome. Holliday lined a pitch into left field. Following the aggressive credo of his manager but maybe forgetting his team was two runs down, he tried to take the extra base with the Cyclones’ two best hitters coming up next. Holliday was thrown out at second on a good throw from the Yankee left fielder.

Did Wally Ball lose out tonight to the Grateful Dead or was it, as Backman said afterwards, just “youthful exuberance” at this level of baseball. Either way, Brooklyn maintains its first place lead over Staten Island by 1.5 games.

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