MMLN – Shaw Battles to Victory

Shaw punched out eight hitters over seven innings

LOWELL, MA - Though the series finale against the Spinners seemed to be dodging the rain, the opposition could not dodge Scott Shaw and the Cyclones offense which once again set the pace for the evening. After blanking Lowell in the series' first two games, Brooklyn got another fine performance from its starter as the Cyclones took a series sweep by a 5-2 score.

Coming off his last start in which he allowed six earned runs in 1 2/3 innings pitched, Scott Shaw may not have had his best stuff going on Friday night, but the 2008 13th round pick's repertoire is deep enough that he still kept the opposition at bay despite spotty fastball location. The box score reads just one walk and four hits allowed, but Shaw often fell behind hitters early only to work his way back into counts and eventually outs—including eight strikeouts.

Why Shaw was able to battle—even though he could not consistently command his mid to high-80s fastball—is the tremendous movement he gets on his three secondary pitches: slider, curveball and changeup. Though he primarily used his fastball to get strike one, all bets were off from there on as he fearlessly used any one of his pitches in any count. He did not hesitate to throw his big, hooking, mid-70s curveball or diving, low-70s changeup when behind in the count. He battled all night and did not give in to hitters even with runners on base. No matter the situation, he did not deviate from his approach of his intelligently mixing his repertoire to keep hitters off balance.

Shaw, who stands all of his listed 6-foot-5, has a very smooth, easily repeatable delivery. There are no excessive or unnecessary hitches in his motion, giving him a deliberate but effective over-the-top release point and lots movement. Though he topped out at about 87-88 MPH on Friday night, with greater rest—perhaps next season—he should be able to get his fastball pushing over the 90 MPH mark. A familiar name that Shaw can be compared to is Tobi Stoner. Both have that easy delivery and entered the system with a deep repertoire that is effective because of their tremendous movement.

Jose Jimenez continues to show off terrific natural power. The 21-year-old who has mostly been used as the team's designated hitter, is not shy about going after first pitch fastballs and it paid off for him on Friday night. After driving a first pitch fastball for a single in the top of the second inning, he stepped to the plate in the fourth inning and crushed a first-pitch heater over the left field score board. For the remainder of the night, he was offered a healthy dosage of inside breaking pitches.

Sean Ratliff seems to be slowly but surely coming out his early season funk. After lacing a double to right field on Thursday night, he showed very good hip rotation, stayed back and lined two singles to right field on Friday night. Though it went as a recorded out, he also got very good wood on a long drive to right-centerfield that was chased down by the defender on a slick running grab.

Though he committed a fielding error in his one of few starts in right field, Kirk Nieuwenhuis still pitched in with numerous assists to his club. He stole two bags—impressive jumps on both—and used his speed to beat out dropped third strike which inevitably led to a run. Though hitting .268 after Friday night's affair, Nieuwenhuis is showing himself to be a very patient hitter. Twice he worked out of 0-2 counts to get back to a full count once earning a walk and the other an extended, well-fought at-bat. He will not expand his strike zone away, but still needs to check himself on balls down and out of the zone as he has a tendency to chase pitches at his ankles.

Aside from Jimenez, J.R. Voyles provided a lot of the offense. His 3-for-5 included two very sharp opposite field hits, including a two-run double. He has now driven in a run in six straight games and recorded his first multi-RBI game since he knocked in two runs on July 29. Voyles, who hit .216 in 41 games with St. Lucie earlier this season, is hitting .292 in 16 games with Brooklyn.

Left-handed reliever Jimmy Johnson may not light up the radar gun with his 83 MPH fastball, but he has certainly been a consistent piece to the Cyclones' bullpen. He ran into trouble in the ninth inning and had to be relieved by Stephen Clyne with one to go, but he quickly worked through the seventh and eighth innings and struck out three of the six hitters he faced. His drop down delivery does aid in his success despite the rather average to below average velocity.

Eric Campbell sure had it tough in this series. He went 2-for-9 with two runs in the three games, but he was constantly pounded inside with breaking pitches. However, he is another hitter who will refuse to expand his strike zone though he visibly likes to gear up and try to drive every curveball or slider that dare find its way into the zone.

Shortstop Matt Smith, who had originally come to Brooklyn on a rehab assignment from St. Lucie, smacked his second home run with the Cyclones. The 5-foot-10, scrappy shortstop turned on a letter-high fastball and drove it off the second tier of walls in right field in the eighth inning.

After combining for 29 strikeouts on Thursday night, the clubs cut that number by ten as Brooklyn went down on strikes eight times to the Spinners' 11 whiffs. The sweep over the Spinners was the Cyclones' second in their last three series [Vermont July 29-July 31].

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