Watching the scoreboard is the latest craze at MCU Park, where our beloved Cyclones are making a playoff push for the lone wild-card berth that would cement the team’s return to the postseason for the first time in two years.
Each night, anxious fans (and reporters) check to see the outcomes of the games played by our closet competitor, the Connecticut Tigers (which the Clones took two out of three from earlier in the week) as well as the hated Staten Island Yankees, the Williamsport Crosscutters, the Auburn Doubledays, the Lowel Spinners, and even the Batavia Muckdogs (yes, those Batavia Muckdogs), which are all less than four games out of the spot.
The tense times were brought about thanks to the team’s worst losing streak of the season, an eight game stretch in mid-July that had fans watching games through their hands.
But then, the front office sprang to action, signing Michael Comforto to add muscle in the middle of the lineup, and the Clones went on a 12–5 tear. This week the Wizards of Surf Avenue bolstered the pitching staff by calling up Martires Arias from the Appalachian League (yes, that Appalachian League), where the 23-year-old had a .050 earned-run average while limiting batters to a .154 average, and brought in speedy center fielder John Mora, who was hitting .318 with 29 runs scored and 14 stolen bases in the Gulf Coast League, and slotted in nicely at the top of the order.
At press time, Arias hadn’t played yet, but Mora had already made an impact, batting first and scoring three runs while knocking in two in four games.
The new firepower in the batting order has protected the likes of Amed Rosario — who skipper Tom Gamboa compared to superstar shortstop Hanley Ramirez before the season — as well as Tyler Moore and Michael Bernal, all of whom have seen a jump in batting average and runs scored since the newcomers arrived.
And they have even gotten the chance to light some fireworks of their own.
The Clones got the team’s first walk-off win of the season when Rosario’s two-out single in the ninth on Aug. 1 beat the Doubledays, cleared the Clone bench, and sent the fans into a tizzy.
Rosario called the moment “emotional” — an understatement at best.
We all know the baseball season — much like a roller coaster — has its ups and downs.
But now the Clones seem primed and ready for a playoff push, and us fans will continue to watch the games — and the scoreboard — with bated breath as our boys get pulled to the top of the highest hill.