NEW YORK -- Losing the season series to Brooklyn, 4-2, New York brass had to figure how to cool off the Bruisers’ high-powered offense that led the circuit in home runs, runs scored and batting average. “The answer was right in front of us,” said rookie Knights manager, Wes Helms, pointing at the BVL Top 10 batting leaders with four Bruisers among the top seven batters. “We had to match up against their righty bats.”
The New Yorkers bring up two righty arms: reliever Adam Cimber and Jose Berrios, slotted to start G1. The righty Berrios made one start during the regular season. “We felt confident with that decision,” said Helms. “At least he was well rested!”
Berrios went five scoreless innings. He struck out righty Jose Iglesias and got righty Avisail Garcia to fly out in the 3rd. He walked off the mound with his head held high and bases full of sad Bruisers. Energized, Aaron Judge and Darin Ruf begin the 4th for the visitors with solo home runs.
Lopez: New York’s ‘Little Big Man’
Blanked by Corbin Burnes and company in G2, 4-0, the Knights return home to a park built for them. BOOM! They put up a 5-spot in their 1st, highlight by Kyle Tucker’s 2-run shot. The Knights add 4 more in the 3rd. G3’s over before it’s even an official game.
In G4, the Knights again strike quickly. Brooklyn starter Adrian Gomber lasts two innings. That’s two more than starter Austin Gomber pitched in G3.
The unlikely hero, “Little” Nicky Lopez, a player with one home run for the Knights in 553 combined MLB and BVL at-bats, leads off with a solo big fly. He bangs another, a 2-run blast, in the 4th. Lopez shrugs his shoulders as he crosses home plate.
New York's in command, 3-1.
Zunino's dramatic dinger
Brooklyn owner Jon Simonds watches in despair as Jeimer Candelario leads off the New York 7th with a solo home run. With their club ahead, 4-2, the crowd celebrates with songs, chants. They cheer as owner Adam Goldberg lights up his Victory Cigar.
Brooklyn manager Lou Merloni calls on pinch-hitter Mike Zunino to hit against Emmanuel Clase in the 8th. The Bruisers have two runners on bases, zero outs. Goldberg continues to puff away, unfazed. Clase isn't a good matchup for the righty catcher. BOOM! The Knights owner chokes on his smoke. Zunino clubs the stunning 3-run home run. Bruisers live for another day.
Judgement arrives late
At Brooklyn for G6, the clubs score once in their first at-bat. The next run would take a while. Both staffs retire 17 consecutive batters during one stretch. Brooklyn fans remain hopeful of a possible G7. Corbin Burnes is in top form, striking out 12 Knights. Knights reliever Ryan Tepera strands the go-ahead run for Brooklyn with a pair of 8th-inning whiffs.
The game is delayed in the 9th when Aaron Judge, kneeling on the on-deck circle, is showered with batteries. Judge gets the last laugh. He puts a charge to a Kenley Jansen pitch that lands over the centerfield wall. New York wins, 2-1. It’s all over.
PS: Manny Machado, Avasail Garcia and Jean Segura, all three Bruisers, all three righty batters, combine to hit .067 (4 for 60) in the series. No bueno.