Bark in the Park is bad news for Katz
The Cyclones made their annual trip to Lowell on Sunday and three of MLB.com’s newly-announced midseason top 20 Mets prospects were in play for the opener. Michael Conforto (#4) would drive in Amed Rosario (#7) for the game’s first run, but Marcos Molina (#16) didn’t have his best stuff on the mound and didn’t get any favors from the Brooklyn defense (including his own). Down 3-1 after three innings, Molina settled in and the Brooklyn offense stepped up to take game 1 9-3. The comeback was sparked by Michael Bernal, who entered the game in the bottom of the third when Michael Katz had to be driven off the field after an injury.
Michael Conforto entered the game with an 8-game hitting streak, which dates back to his professional debut just over a week ago. More than a month after the Mets drafted him 10th overall, fans were eager to see what he could do. They didn’t have to wait very long on Sunday as he extended his hitting streak in the top of the 1st with a double off the left field wall that drove in Amed Rosario. The offense went silent the next time through the order, with the only baserunner erased on a double play. After Conforto grounded out for the second out in the 4th, it would be up to a different Michael to get the Cyclones going again.
Marcos Molina came out of nowhere to start landing on top prospect lists last year. Well, only if you consider rookie ball to be “nowhere.” Still, he started in Brooklyn this year with a lot of buzz and has generally impressed. After a quick 1-2-3 first inning where he looked like he was throwing batting practice and still getting outs, Molina’s luck ran out in the second. With his fastball only hitting the high 80s and his pitches not hitting the strike zone when they needed to, the Spinners took advantage and did some hitting of their own with three singles and a walk scoring two runs. The final hit of the inning was a bunt single that Molina fielded poorly and then tried to make a throw to first from a seated position. Molina’s throwing error allowed the go-ahead run to score, making this the second time I’ve seen a throwing error by a highly-touted Cyclones pitcher lead to a run.
The Cyclones added injury to insult in the bottom of the third when a ground ball to second went horribly wrong. Michael Katz, the lone player to not have a dog photo used on the scoreboard (for obvious reasons), stretched too far attempting to catch the throw, missed, and fell to the ground clutching his knee.
Katz was down for a full two minutes before he was able to stand on his own, after which he was whisked away on the back of a Gator (and not one of the three gator mascots at the park). With Katz out of the game, Will Fullmer shifted to first base and Michael Bernal entered the game in right field. A passed ball and a single put Lowell up 3-1 with nobody out, but that would be the extent of their offense for the night. The Cyclones however were just getting started.
And that brings us to the top of the 4th with Michael Bernal at the plate for the first time with two outs. The inning looked to be over when Bernal popped one up just foul in shallow right, but the Spinners couldn’t make the play. That proved to be the turning point of the game; Bernal would later send the ball and half of his bat into left field and then, after a walk to Tyler Moore, would score on a Will Fulmer single to pull the Cyclones to within one run. They would strand the bases loaded, but their bats were now wide awake.
And that’s really where the game ended and the beating began. Molina allowed two baserunners in the bottom half on a fielding error by Amed Rosario and a HBP, but the Cyclones would face the minimum from there. Molina sat down on another bunt in the 6th, but the runner would be caught stealing after being sent back to first on his first attempt due to hitter’s interference. Brad Wieck, wearing Corey Oswalt’s jersey, pitched two perfect innings and Paul Paez finished the game with a perfect 9th.
As for the Cyclones’ offense, well, they were just getting started. After scoring in the 4th, Bernal went on to get three more hits, finishing the night 4-for-4 with 4 RBI. The rest of the lineup pitched in as well, with all nine spots in the lineup recording hits and six with at least one RBI.
Final score: Brooklyn 9, Lowell 3