After 40 games of the New York-Penn League's 2013 season, the Aberdeen IronBirds were sitting even at .500 through Monday night, having won 20 and lost 20.
In the McNamara Division standings, Aberdeen was tied for second with Brooklyn, and two games behind first-place Hudson Valley. Staten Island sat in last, three games behind the IronBirds.
From last Thursday's game through Monday's double-header with Staten Island, the IronBirds went 3-3, and saw some notable offensive performances.
Breen breaks record
Jared Breen, Baltimore's 24th-round selection in this year's draft and Aberdeen's full-time shortstop, seemingly had a team-best hitting streak stopped back on July 17, when he went 0-for-5 in Aberdeen's 5-1 win over Vermont. The 22-year-old infielder had collected a hit in the 17 previous contests, which tied him for the club record with former major leaguer Brandon Fahey, who set the mark during the IronBirds' 2002 season.
Fortunately for Breen, he had an ace in the hole, as one of the games that had been postponed during the hitting streak, a June 25 matchup in Staten Island, was picked back up on Sunday night, giving him a few more at-bats to set a new team record.
In the top of the eighth inning, Breen came to the plate having not posted a hit in his previous four games, and popped a single off the Staten Island pitcher, thus extending his hit streak to a club-record 18 games.
Hitting streak aside, Breen has had a rough time at the plate of late, going 2-for-37 in his last 10 games.
Mike Yastrzemski, Baltimore's 14th-round pick this year, has been a terror at the plate lately, putting together a nine-game hit streak that extended from July 20 through Monday's contest, and breaking into the home run column for the first time in his professional career.
Yastrzemski came up with his first round-tripper on Friday night when he hit a solo shot in the ninth of a 3-1 loss to Hudson Valley.
Then, in the first game of Monday's double header at Staten Island, the 22-year-old outfielder notched his second home run, hitting another solo job in the third inning.
"Yastrzemski is a real asset to the team," IronBirds manager Matt Merullo said before his team headed out for its four-trip road on Thursday. "He hits almost .500 off left-handed pitching, he finds ways to get on base, and he just battles. He's a good base runner, doesn't make many mistakes, and he can play all three of the outfield positions."
Split double header
On Monday, the IronBirds split a double-header with the Staten Island Yankees, winning the first game, 5-1, but dropping the second, 7-3.
In the opening-game victory, Aberdeen's Mike Yastrzemski led the way for his team's offense, bashing the second home run of his professional career, a solo job in the third inning, and finishing the contest 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and two RBIs.
Austin Wynns was 2-for-3 with a double and one RBI, while Jared Breen had one RBI as well. Sam Kimmel, Conor Bierfeldt and Jeff Kemp all scored one run.
Orioles' hurler Steve Johnson, who is with the IronBirds as part of a rehab assignment while he bounces back from a strained oblique muscle, made his second start for Aberdeen, tossing 3-2/3 shutout innings in which he struck out two, walked one and held Staten Island to a pair of hits.
Reliever Augey Bill (1-0) went 3-1/3 innings to pick up his first win of the year, striking out one, issuing zero walks and surrendering one earned run on three hits.
The second game was not as kind to Aberdeen, as the IronBirds were topped, 7-3, by the hosts.
Trey Mancini had Aberdeen's hot bat, going 2-for-3 with a double, one RBI and one run scored.
Starter Jorge Rivera (2-1) went three innings, striking out two, walking four and allowing five earned runs on three hits in the loss.
Picked up in the fifth
Playing the remainder of a June 25 game that had been halted in the fifth inning due to a stadium-wide power outage, the IronBirds came back from a four-run deficit to top Staten Island, 11-8.
The game began in the bottom of the fifth, with Aberdeen down, 8-4. The IronBirds came to life in the top of the seventh, scoring twice to cut the host-team Yankees' lead down to 8-6. Another two-run rally in the eighth tied the score, 8-8, and forced the game into extra innings. The top of the 10th saw Aberdeen notch three runs, while Staten Island went down without a score in the bottom of the inning.
Reliever Donnie Hart (1-0) took the win, going two innings during which he struck out two, walked one, surrendered one hit and held Staten Island scoreless.
Conor Bierfeldt hit a solo home run in the seventh, his second round-tripper of the season.
The IronBirds were knocked off, 4-3, losing their second straight on the road Saturday to host Hudson Valley.
The defeat knocked Aberdeen to 18-19, one game below the .500 mark.
Trailing 4-0 after five innings, Aberdeen scored once in the sixth, notched another run in the eighth, then posted their final tally in the ninth.
Aberdeen's top bat belonged to Jeff Kemp, who went 2-for-4 and scored a team-best two runs. Sam Kimmel and Jared Breen both had one RBI, while Austin Wynns went 1-for-4 one run.
IronBird starter Mitch Horacek (3-2) was saddled with the loss. Over five innings, Horacek struck out two, walked none and allowed four earned runs on seven hits.
Topped on the road
One night removed from a powerful, 14-run performance, the IronBirds were nearly blanked at the plate by host Hudson Valley on Friday, as the Aberdeen men scored just once in a 3-1 loss.
Trey Mancini was 2-for-4 with a double, which turned out to be Aberdeen lone extra base hit aside from Yastrzemski's home run.
Aberdeen starter Janser Severino (0-4) was saddled with the loss. Severino went six innings in which he struck out four, walked one and allowed three earned runs on seven hits.
Records broken, tied
The Aberdeen IronBirds had no problems at the plate Thursday night, pounding out 17 hits and double-digit runs in a 14-4 win over Vermont at Ripken Stadium.
At the forefront of Aberdeen's powerful offensive display was Jonathan Schoop, who set a new, single-game club record by knocking in seven RBIs. The second baseman, who is in Aberdeen on a rehab assignment after injuring himself while playing with the Class-AAA Norfolk Tides, struck first in the sixth inning, blasting a grand slam off the Vermont pitcher. In the eighth, Schoop hit his second homer of the game, this one a three-run shot that gave him seven RBIs for the evening. He finished the game 4-for-5 with two runs scored.
Also making his way into the IronBirds' record books was Jeff Kemp, who tied Aberdeen's single-game mark of four runs scored. Kemp went 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs.
Schoop broke the record set by Danny Figueroa during the 2006 season, while Kemp tied a mark which is shared by Anthony Caronia, Ronnie Welty and Roderick Bernadina.
Aberdeen reliever Jose Figuereo (1-1) earned the win, going two innings in which he struck out a pair and held Vermont to one earned run on two hits.
Starter Sebastian Vader went four innings, striking out six, issuing two walks and allowing three earned runs on four hits in a no-decision.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun