Now that’s a switch!
Cyclone hitters jumped all over celebrated switch-pitching Yankee Pat Venditte on Monday, banging the two-armed freak with a four-hit barrage in the eighth inning — including a two-run homer and an RBI double to give the Cyclones a much-needed win over their hated cross-Narrows rivals in Staten Island.
With the win, the Cyclones took two of three from the first-place Yanks — and also served notice that this last-place team ain’t dead yet.
“I think we showed them something — and I think we showed ourselves something — tonight,” said the game’s hero, the switch-hitting Jordan Abruzzo, whose homer from the left side against Venditte’s supposedly stronger left arm was the difference in the game.
“It’s always good to beat the Yankees,” added the El Cajon, Calif. native, sounding very much the Brooklynite. He was 5-for-12 with four RBIs in the three game series.
The Cyclones’ second faceoff against the ambidextrous pitcher proceeded far differently than the original encounter, when Venditte and switch-hitter Ralph Henriquez engaged in a bit of pas de don’t, as the batter switched sides of the plate and the pitcher flipped his specially made six-fingered glove onto opposite hands until the umpire finally stepped in. Thanks to a July 2 rule change — in which baseball’s higher-ups decided that the batter would get the right to make the last change — Abruzzo got to bat lefty.
“I just knew I wanted to bat lefty against him, with that wind blowing out to right,” he said — mentioning the meteorological condition that provided just enough help to get his shot over the “318” sign in right.
Abruzzo’s dinger broke open a nail-biter that the Cyclones first led after scraping a run in a three-error second inning.
But otherwise-effective starting pitcher Pedro “No relation” Martinez tired in the fifth, giving up consecutive doubles before hitting the showers with a no decision.
Cyclone relievers, including Wendy Rosa, Matias Carrillo and closer Steve Clyne shut the door, holding the Baby Bombers to one hit in the last 4-2/3 innings.
The win capped a wild three-game, home-and-home-and home series with the powerful league-leading Yanks.
The Cyclones had evened the series with a 7–4, lead-from-the-start-but-almost-collapse win on Sunday night at Keyspan Park.
The Clones jumped out to an early lead, thanks to an Abruzzo double, followed by two walks and an Eric Campbell RBI single. Another walk and a double-play scored two more.
Then, leading 3–0, the Cyclones broke it open with a five-hit (all singles!) fourth. John Servidio singled home what turned out to be the game-winning run — his second RBI of the night — with the bases loaded. The next batter, Cesar Candido, who went 2-for-4 on the night, padded the lead with a two-run single to right field.
Those insurance runs proved to be vital as the Yanks, down 7–1, stormed back with four in the ninth, all off usually reliable closer Yury Santana.
But it was too little, too late for the first-place Baby Bombers. Later, manager Edgar Alfonzo said the win was a vital one for his ailing squad.
“When you come out and win a game like this after a game like last night — that means a lot,” Alfonzo said. “The season starts today.”
That big win erased the bitter memories from just 24 hours earlier, when the Yankees beat the struggling Cyclones, 7–6, on a ninth-inning walk-off, three-run homer by Melky Mesa on Saturday night on Staten Island.
Mesa sent the Richmond Bank Ballpark crowd home in a fine mood when he turned on Cyclones reliever Steve Clyne’s first pitch and promptly sent it sailing deep to left for the end-of-game buzz kill.
The Yankees were trailing 4–2 when the inconsistent reliever Clyne was brought in to close what could have been a momentum-changing win for the 13–17 Cyclones.
But Clyne made it tough on himself, giving up a leadoff bunt single and then a single of the normal, line-drive variety.
Clyne did induce a groundout, but then the mini-Melk man delivered big time.
Clyne got a his first blown save and first loss of the year on the same pitch.