The Cyclones just swept the hated Staten Island Yankees, just started their season with a league-leading 26-12 record, but now the real season begins.
Starting tonight, the Cyclones play their next seven games against the second-place Hudson Valley Renegades and the third-place Baby Bombers.
“It’s now or never,” said Manager Pedro Lopez.
”This is our season right here. If you look at this week and who were playing, we need these games.”
But Lopez, the first-year skipper, says he wouldn’t have it any other way.
”This is where we want to be,” he said. ”This is why you put a uniform on, to be playing in series like these.”
Going into tonight’s doubleheader against the Yankees, the Cyclones have a six-game lead over the second place Renegades and are playing some of their best ball of the year.
But the Cyclones have been a Jekyl and Hyde club, starting the season 16-2, including a 10-game winning streak, then losing seven of their next nine games before righting this leaky ship.
To dominate over the next week, the Cyclones will need a clutch performance from catcher Ralph Henriquez, who had a pivotal game-changing double that drove in two against the Yankees on Saturday.
“We need guys like Ralphy to step up in these kind of games for us,” Lopez said after Saturday’s win. “I’m happy about the win, but I’m more happy for him, because I know he wants to help this team and has been struggling recently.”
He’s only hitting .227 this year, but has been steady behind the dish.
Henriquez said he was ready for the challenge.
“We play every game with [the Yankees] like it’s the championship game and we want to win,” he said. “It was sold out [during the Yankees’ last visit] and this is the way it should be.”
Henriquez said he doesn’t care about personal glory. “My only goal right now? Beat the Yankees!”