NEW ORLEANS ZEPHYRS:
Regular Season: 75-69
New Orleans rocketed to first place in the PCL American South thanks to stellar play in the season’s final week. The Zephyrs won seven of their eight last games, taking the division by two games over Albuquerque.
The team was rewarded with a meeting against the Nashville Sounds, the owner of the PCL’s highest regular season winning percentage. The Zephyrs were 7-9 versus Nashville in the regular season, including dropping three of the last four. Nashville entered the playoffs on a hot streak of their own, winning eight of their last ten games. The Sounds ran away with the PCL American North, taking the division with a ten game margin over the Iowa Cubs.
Game 1: New Orleans 3 – Nashville 2
Behind a very strong start by Dave Williams (6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 6 K), and a game-winning single by Robison Cancel, the Zephyrs took Game 1. David Newhan and Carlos Gomez each contributed run-scoring knocks in a two-run first inning. Williams allowed one run in the top of the second inning; the score would remain right there until the eighth inning, but a Jon Adkins blown save in that inning tied the game. Cancel’s single off Ken Ray in the ninth gave the Zephyrs the victory. The Zephyrs took the game despite not registering one extra-base hit.
Game 2: New Orleans 5 – Nashville 1
Jason Vargas kept the momentum going in Game 2, mirroring Williams’ effort the night the before with his own six-inning, one-run performance. He too allowed just three hits, striking out four.
Andy Tracy got things going early with a two-run shot, staking Vargas a lead that would last until sixth inning when Callix Crabbe had a run-scoring hit. The Zephyrs posted a run in the bottom half of the inning and two more in the seventh inning, taking a 5-1 lead which they would hold onto for the victory.
David Newhan and Chad Hermansen each had three hits. Eddie Camacho, Carlos Muniz (called up from Binghmton), and Ryan Cullen shut down Nashville for the last three innings, surrendering only one hit.
Game 3: Nashville 6 – New Orleans 5
The Zephyrs had Nashville on the ropes but fell on the road in Game 3 and the teams put together more offense in this one as they combined for 11 runs on 28 hits. Chip Ambres kick-started the game with a three-run home run. However, Nashville’s Andy Abad responded with a long ball of his own, a two-run blast off Brian Lawrence. Lawrence went six innings, allowing three runs on nine hits. The teams each scored a run in the fourth inning, but the Sounds chipped their way to victory against the Zephyrs bullpen.
Joe Smith gave up the game-tying run in the bottom of the seventh inning, but the Zephyrs reclaimed the lead in the top of the ninth. But, while on the doorstep of clinching the series, Ivan Maldonado gave up a game-tying home run to J.R. Hopf. Ryan Cullen, back on the mound after a sharp ninth inning in Game 2, gave up the game winning run as Hopf’s came calling again. The Nashville catcher continued his team’s season with an RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Game 4: New Orleans 6 – Nashville 0
The Zephyrs moved onto the PCL Championship after a dominating performance by Kevin Mulvey. Mulvey, in only his second start ever in Triple-A, shut down Nashville over seven innings. He rang up eight strikeouts and allowed our four walks, continuing the success he had in his first start. On September 2 against the Round Rock Express, Mulvey threw six shutout innings, gave up only two hits, and struck out three.
The start emphasized the strong, consistent year for the 22-year-old right-hander. He spent all of 2007 with Binghamton, where he made 26 starts posting a 3.32, which represented his consistency more than his 11-10 record. His late season addition to the Zephyrs roster could ultimately be the difference in the outcome of their playoff run.
Jesus Feliciano led the way on offense, going 3-4 with a home run, three RBI, and two runs scored. His eighth inning two-run home run was an exclamation point on a celebrated night. Chip Ambres, Ramon Castro and Fernando Tatis all had multi-hit games. Carlos Muniz was perfect in the last two innings with two strikeouts.
Regular Season: 49-25
The Cyclones enter the playoffs fresh off their McNamara Division Championship, after sweeping Lowell in the season’s final series. They meet the team that finished right behind them, the Staten Island Yankees, in the first round. The teams will certainly be very familiar with each other as they just wrapped up a five-game series over Labor Day Weekend, in which the Yankees took three games.
Nick Carr last pitched on September 3 when he shut down the Yankees holding them scoreless on three hits through seven innings. He should take the ball this evening in Game 1. Dylan Owen will most likely start Game 2 of the series, coming off his last start against Lowell in which he sliced and diced the Spinners’ lineup for 11 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings. In his last start against Staten Island on August 20, Owen held the Yankees scoreless for six innings, earning the win.
The offense will need to step up as the unit only scored 14 runs in that last series versus Staten Island. Additionally, Matt Bouchard is the lone Cyclone who has hit over .300 in his past ten games (.344). So, after posting the NY-Penn League’s best regular season record, the lineup will need to turn it around if they are to win their first league title since 2001—perhaps not so coincidentally, manager Edgar Alfonzo’s last season with the team.
ST. LUCIE METS:
Regular Season Second Half: 37-32 Overall: 68-71:
The Mets raced to Florida State League second half division title, and a playoff spot, thanks to a 22-8 August record, which included a six-game win streak to start the month and a nine-game win streak from August 12-August 21. Despite a 31-39 first half record, which placed them tied for last in the FSL East Division, St. Lucie recovered, led by their offense which averaged 5.9 runs per game in August. They faced off against the Brevard County Manatees, affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
After a sterling performance and victory by Jonathan Niese in the series opener, the Mets dropped the last two, falling to Brevard County in the three game series. A disappointing end for the 2006 FSL Champions, but given their slow first half, there was still enough to feel good about in 2007.
GAME 1: St. Lucie 8 – Brevard County 0
Hector Pellot’s RBI single in the third inning was enough for the Mets as Niese’s six-inning shutout performance led the way to a Game 1 win. The 20-year-old left-hander was very sharp, striking out nine, giving up one hit and two walks. It was a big outing for Niese after his last appearance on August 30 lasted just 3.1 innings when he gave up four earned runs on ten hits.
The offense took care of the rest. Victor Mendez, Sean McCraw, Ambiorix Concepcion and Nick Evans all had two hits, five different Mets drove in runs as St. Lucie cleaned up in innings three through seven, scoring in each.
German Marte, Joseph Hietpas, and Nick Abel each pitched one inning of relief, allowing four base runners. Nick Evans, mired in a funk (.214 in his last ten games), was 2-for-4, with two runs, two doubles and a RBI.
Game 2: Brevard County 7 – St. Lucie 6
Though the offense hung around in Game 2, due to shaky pitching performances, St. Lucie found itself in a back and forth game. With the score tied at one in the top of the fifth inning, the Mets posted a five-spot with RBIs from the heart of the order.
Nick Evans continued his hot hitting, knocking three more doubles and driving in a run in five at-bats. Daniel Murphy was 2-for-2 with three walks and two RBI hitting behind Evans.
Deolis Guerra posted a reasonable start, allowing two earned runs on six hits in five innings. However, trouble came after Guerra’s exit. Kevin Tomasiewicz allowed two sixth inning runs. Hietpas followed that by allowing two earned runs of his own in the ninth inning, including a controversial hits-batsman with the bases loaded, tying the game. There was questions about whether his pitch actually hit right-fielder Lorenzo Cain. Jose De La Torre relieved Hietpas in the ninth but the Manatees quickly ended the game when third baseman Mat Gamel ripped a game winning, run-scoring single.
Game 3: Brevard County 13 – St. Lucie 2
The Manatees ran away with the series-clinching game as they rolled over St. Lucie. Brevard County jumped to a first inning lead thanks to a Cole Gillespie solo home run. Brevard County extended their lead with a five-run third inning in which run-scoring singles, doubles and a two-run triple finished off the Mets.
Eric Brown, making his first appearance since August 29, came into the start after not giving up a run in his previous 14 innings. He was roughed up for six runs, four earned, in 2.1 innings pitched. It was not any easier on the bullpen, specifically Jose De La Torre who allowed two earned runs in one inning, and Nick Abel who gave up five earned runs without recording an out.
Nick Evans went 1-for-3 with another double. His line for the series reads: 6-for-12, six doubles, six RBI and four runs scored.