Fuller starts, Powers finishes as Cyclones roll
Pedro Lopez wasn’t going to throw back Monday night’s rather comfortable victory. Or the five previous ones, all by at least four runs, that preceded it, sandwiched around a two-run loss.
But Tuesday night’s tense win, the first-year manager said, felt better.
Every pitch mattered. Every at-bat held meaning. There was pressure in the ninth inning. And the Cyclones prevailed, again, beating Hudson Valley for the fifth time in six meetings, 3-1, to remain undefeated at KeySpan Park in Coney Island and improve overall to a McNamara Division-best 9-2.
“This is the kind of game you want to be playing; it shows a lot of character,” Lopez said. “It’s always nice to win games by five or six runs. But these are the games you usually have in the playoffs.”
With the current state of Brooklyn’s pitching staff, taut affairs aren’t a problem. James Fuller became the fourth Cyclone starter to record his second win, scattering eight hits across seven in-control innings. The southpaw struck out six, walked one and stranded six Renegades aboard, including four in scoring position. Matias Carrillo delivered a perfect eighth and Michael Powers pitched around a double and an error in the ninth for his first save of the season.
For a change, Brooklyn didn’t mash the ball offensively. They left eight runners on and were just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. Third baseman Nick Giarraputo plated the first run in the fourth with a double up the gap in right-center field, plating first baseman Sam Honeck.
Designated hitter Dock Doyle followed with an infield single, driving in Giarraputo. Honeck drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
It was the Cyclones’ lowest scoring output in their eight wins. The offense, to this point, has outshined the pitching staff. But that, Lopez said, is the key to his club. It was the point he raised in a pre-game interview reporters.
“Our success is because of our pitching staff,” he said.
He called Fuller an ace. And Brandon Moore. And Angel Cuan. And Mark Cohoon. And Collin McHugh. “All five,” he said, smiling. “It is a good hand in poker.”
Said Giarraputo: “There isn’t a guy we aren’t comfortable with on the mound.”
It isn’t just the starters, either. The bullpen, aside from Erik Turgeon’s outing in Sunday’s 8-3 victory over Hudson Valley, has been phenomenal.
Powers hasn’t gotten any save opportunities until Tuesday, the result of the productive lineup and shutdown starting pitching, but he showed he’s up to the task.
Despite giving up the one-out double to Mark Thomas, Powers should’ve had a rather ho-hum save. He retired Brett Nommensen on a fly ball to leftfielder Alex Gregory for the second out and got Mayobanex Acosta to ground to usually sure-handed shortstop Luis Nieves. But he booted the routine three-hopper.
Powers shrugged off the mistake, fanning D.J. Jones on three pitches. He got ahead with two fastballs and finished him off with a breaking ball in the dirt.
“It shows what he’s about,” Fuller said. “We have complete confidence in him.”
That winning feeling is infectious. It’s everywhere with the Cyclones. They have won with small ball and by hitting home runs. With masterful pitching performances and stout bullpen work. By racing out to big leads and rallying for comeback victories.
There is little not going right these days in Coney Island.
“When you’re entire team is picking each other up,” Giarraputo said, “it tends to snowball.”
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019