MMLN – Schwinden Stifles Spinners

Schwinden fanned 12 hitters in 7 innings

LOWELL, MA - In a fast moving game on Thursday night, the Cyclones may have had trouble taking advantage of their many baserunners, but what they did put across the plate was just enough as Chris Schwinden breezed through the Lowell lineup. Behind a stellar performance on the mound and sound defense behind it, Brooklyn picked up its second consecutive shutout over the Spinners by the score of 2-0.

Not many superlatives can be used for Chris Schwinden's performance on Thursday night, but the 21-year-old right-hander and 2008 22nd round pick was dynamite as he shut down the Spinners for 12 strikeouts in seven innings. He impressively attacked every hitter he faced, pumping his 90-92 MPH fastball up and down the lineup and getting countless swings and misses. Though his breaking pitch [a slightly shallow slider] was used at times to change up hitters, it was his fastball that did just about all of the damage.

After walking the game's lead off hitter, Schwinden went 4 1/3 innings without surrendering a hit. The first batter of the game was the only batter to go to a 3-ball count. In fact, Schwinden went a span of three innings in which he threw just eight pitches out of the strike zone, including a the 4th inning in which he did not throw a single pitch out of the zone.

It was not as if Schwinden was getting many hitters to chase. Though a few batters elevated their strike zone, the majority of his damage was done within the zone, inducing many late swings and check swings. He stayed ahead all night as he was able to throw first pitch strikes with regularity, unflinching in going after hitters with first-pitch fastballs. In the seventh inning, his final inning, he struck out two hitters and threw one pitch out of the zone. He struck out 12 of the 23 batters he faced.

The right-hander does not throw overly hard nor do his pitches have much deceptive movement, but the hitch in his delivery and effective enough changeup let him control the tempo of at-bats with his fastball. He picked up his second victory of the season [both as a starter], and in three starts, is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 15 1/3 innings pitched with a 24/3 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

It was a very tough at the dish for centerfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis who struck out four times in five at-bats. Opposing pitchers consistently attacked him in the bottom of the strike zone and below it. He appeared out in front of many pitches and his timing look just off the entire evening. Though he went 0-for-5, he did score a run on a J.R. Voyles single after reaching base on a strike out in the third inning.

Sean Ratliff, who is hungry to get his offense going, also fell victim to a relentless attack of fastballs and sliders in the lower third of the strike zone and whiffed twice in the game. However, Ratliff, who is a drop-and-drive swinger, did connect on an elevated fastball and smoked a line drive to right field for a double. Ratliff looks to be dropping the bat handle lower than his natural movement, but on that double he showed off his tremendous natural power that lies within.

Ike Davis, who is certainly not off to the start he anticipated, seems to be plagued by the same swing miscues that effected him earlier in the season, though his swing was smoother last evening than last observed two weeks ago. Davis showed improved patience at the plate and recorded his second multi-hit game in his last ten, though both hits were rather routine seeing-eye single. In other at-bats he was out in front and harmlessly rolled over a groundball to second base and a weak flyball to right field.

When Yuri Santana entered the game, he stuck with what was working for Schwinden and promptly hurled fastball after fastball, striking out the first two batters he faced before getting a weak groundball to second to end the inning. He threw just one pitch out of the zone during his inning of work.

Stephen Clyne, who began his return to Brooklyn with three very rough outings, has really settled down over his last eight outings and last night was very indicative of his improvements. Though his two-seam fastball did not have the velocity that he had last year, the movement is coming back as his is tough mound mentality. With a 2-0 lead and a weak hitting opposing lineup, he attacked hitters with his diving fastball and picked up his first save with Cyclones with just eight pitches.

Though the Cyclones walked away with the win, the same signs of their struggle offense did appear as they plated just two runs despite ten hits. Twice in the game, they left a runner on third with less than two outs including one instance in which Sean Ratliff was on third with no outs. Lastly, it was not just the Spinners who rang up a high amount of strikeouts [15 of their own], but the Cyclones lineup went down on strikes 14 times.

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