This is A-ball, so sometimes you have to take things at face value. And in Coney Island, sometimes it helps if you use your imagination, and leave your hang-ups at home. But on this night, the fans in attendance at the old grounds of Steeplechase Park were asked to recognize perfection, just on a much smaller scale, and minus the freaks. Sorry, everything can’t be fun and games. However, while Friday’s game in Coney Island may not make national headlines, here in the Borough of Kings; where Baseball History was literally born, and quite frankly where the game of Baseball became great; whether we are talking about baseball in Brooklyn circa the 1860′s, or today in 2012, games like Friday night’s affair live forever. This is how August 10th’s Sensation by the Seaside unfolded.
In their first game back from their trip to Lowell,, the Surf Avenue Sluggers hosted the Vermont Lake Monsters.. As the wind blew in from the beach Friday night, a rather intriguing pitcher’s duel ensued just beyond the boardwalk in Coney Island.
Hansel Robles was Brooklyn’s starting pitcher. He was opposed by Vermont’s Kristopher Hall.. And for the first three innings, both engaged in near perfection. One base on balls issued by Lowell’s starter was all that separated his effort from Hansel Robles’ pitching line. Through three innings, neither pitcher allowed a hit.
Then in the fourth, Kristopher Hall was lifted for reliever Seth Streich.. The reason Hall was relieved of the ball is unclear to me. Regardless, Seth Streich picked up where Kristopher Hall left off. Through the first five innings of the game, both teams still remained without a hit.
For Hansel Robles’ part, through five innings, he maintained a clean line, with five strikeouts. In a word, he stayed perfect, as the Cyclones committed no errors to mar the effort as yet.
Into the sixth inning they went. And once again, Hansel Robles retired the side in order. In addition to stellar pitching, throughout this game, Robles helped his own cause with his defense. He ended Vermont’s top half of the inning with his fifth assist of the game. Robles was indeed proving to be a one man show. When you factor in his five strikeouts to this point, and one put-out at first on a play scored 3-1, Brooklyn’s starter directly accounted for eleven of the eighteen outs recorded through six. But as great a game he was pitching, it was not lost on the Coney Island freaks fans that their Boardwalk Bums were still without a hit as well.
In the home sixth, Eudy Pina worked out the third walk issued by Lake Monster pitching, and the second by Seth Streich who was now in his third inning of relief. Pina put himself in scoring position by stealing second base. But when the next batter, Juan Carlos Gamboa got called looking at strike three, Coach Rich Donnelly begged to differ with the home plate Ump; so much so, Coach Donnelly was summarily dismissed from the game. Seth Streich then proceeded to retire the Cyclones.
Hansel Robles took the mound in the top of the seventh inning, and came strong. After retiring the lead-off batter on a grounder to third, Hansel struck out the next two batters swinging. Then after a nervous seventh inning stretch, Vermont brought in their third pitcher of the evening. Omar Duran replaced Streich, who struck out five Cyclones in three superb innings of work; not to mention preserving Vermont’s own no-hit effort. After Duran struck out Jayce Boyd, Kevin Plawecki drew Brooklyn’s fourth walk of the evening. But Stefan Sabol would also strike out, and the third out came on a fly to right. After seven full innings of play, dual no-hitters were still in effect.
In the eighth inning, the home team blinked. With two outs, Lake Monster third baseman Daniel Robertson singled cleanly to center field. After recording twenty-three outs in a brilliant performance, Hansel Robles’ no-hit effort was over. But not his resolve. Allowed to stay in the game, he retired his twenty fourth batter of the evening. He left the game after surrendering the lone hit, and striking out seven Monsters.
Brooklyn’s Tyler Vanderheiden was summoned to pitch the ninth. With one out, Vermont’s Austin Booker struck the first extra base hit of the game; a double to left. But the Monsters managed nothing more. Then up came the Cyclones for their last licks. Omar Duran returned to the mound for a second inning. But he surrendered a lead-off single to Dimas Ponce, and out from the game he went. In from Vermont’s bullpen came, Ryan Dull. And with Phillip Evans at bat, Dull immediately put his team in a bind by unleashing a wild pitch, allowing Ponce to advance to second base. You know what follows don’t you?
Phillip Evans delivered a single to left, scoring Dimas Ponce from second base, for a most thrilling Cyclones win. It was Friday night, so naturally, that means fireworks followed. The kids love it. And for Cyclones fans? Woo Hoo! But for the old-timers who come to Coney Island to take a tiny step back in time, for a while there, Surf Avenue was just as historic as it’s ever been. But try telling that story to someone who doesn’t live here, or who has never been to Coney Island. It’s a place that stimulates the senses, and even your sensibilities sometimes. But it’s all good. And it’s where those old fans now come to get that feeling again, all these years later.
Tonight, there was joy on the boardwalk. Why? Hansel Robles almost had himself a perfect game, much less a no-hitter. That’s cool and all. But here in Brooklyn, we like a little failure along with our success, for taste that is. For here, as it was when the Dodgers played in Brooklyn, this is life for us, not just a game. Any Cyclones game, just like Friday night’s get together, was just your typical seventy-one hundred fans spending a night in their backyard. If they ever build another deck, another seven thousand people would fill it. This might only be Class-A baseball. But when the grass is cut, and the Umpire calls “Play Ball” in Coney Island? That’s something else. We have a word for that around here.
A perfect game and a no-hitter denied. But a masterpiece none-the-less? Absolutely. Another magical night by the seaside? Without a Doubt!
Topics: Brooklyn Cyclones, Dimas Ponce, Hansel Robles, Jayce Boyd, Kevin Plawecki, Mets Minor League Blog, Mets Minor Leaguers, New York Mets, Phillip Evans, Rich Donnelly, Rising Apple, Stefan Sabol, Tyler Vanderheiden