By now, the Aberdeen IronBirds have to wonder, what exactly did they do to deserve their start to the 2014 season.
The IronBirds lost for the 10th time in 11 tries Monday and in numbers alone, it was the worst loss of the young season. Staten Island defeated Aberdeen, 4-1, at Ripken Stadium. Seven of the losses have come by one run and the other two were by two runs.
In Monday's game, Staten Island scored single runs in each of the second, third, seventh and ninth innings, while Aberdeen could muster just a single run in the third.
Cory Segui opened the inning with a single and a Justin Viele sacrifice bunt moved him to second. Stephen Wilkerson then hit his third double of the season, a ground-rule double, to score Segui.
The IronBirds had just five hits, but Alex Murphy had one of them, extending his hitting streak to seven games. Viele and Jamill Moquete also had hits.
In Sunday's game, Brooklyn was ahead early, 1-0, scoring a run in the top of the first on two singles, a stolen base and a 6-4-3 double play groundout.
Aberdeen also had two singles in the first at bat, including one by Alex Murphy, extending his hitting streak to six games. The IronBirds, however, also hit into a double play, ending the inning with no scoring.
Aberdeen broke through in the third to tie the game.
Byron Capellan started the inning with an infield single, beating out a grounder to third. Steve Wilkerson then blooped a single to shallow right field and Manny Hernandez followed with another single to short right field that loaded the bases. Murphy then delivered the RBI with a sacrifice fly. Unfortunately, that was it for IronBirds.
The long ball in the Cyclones fourth was the difference. Michael Bernal had a blast to center field.
Aberdeen had just two hits over the final six innings as Brooklyn winning pitcher Carlos Valdez (five innings) and reliever Gaither Bumgardner (four innings) combined for eight strikeouts. Wilkerson and Hernandez had two hits apiece for Aberdeen.
Aberdeen starter Augey Bill suffered the loss, lasting four and a third innings, allowing seven hits and two earned runs.
Bundy shines, but 'Birds lose in extras
Baltimore Orioles top prospect Dylan Bundy was strong Saturday night in his second outing for Aberdeen, but the IronBirds fell in an 11-inning contest, 3-1.
Bundy threw five scoreless innings, striking out nine and allowing just two hits and no runs.
Cyclones' starter Marcos Molina was equally impressive, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out five. Molina allowed two hits.
Brooklyn scored three in the top of the 11th, fueled by a throwing error to start the inning and a wild pitch on a strikeout that allowed all runners to be safe, including Tucker Tharp with the Cyclones first run.
Brooklyn added two more for the 3-0 lead before Aberdeen batted. Justin Viele singled and scored on an Alex Murphy sacrifice fly, but Cyclones pitcher Shane Bay retired the next two to close out the game.
Stefan Crichton took the loss in one inning of relief. He allowed three runs (one earned) on two hits.
If playing at home was supposed to make a difference for the Aberdeen IronBirds, Friday night's result was as if they were still on the road.
The IronBirds, who were 1-6 on the road, with all but one loss of one-run variety, suffered another one-run loss Friday at Ripken Stadium, the team's 2014 home opener.
Aberdeen watched a sixth inning lead of 6-4 slip away as the Brooklyn Cyclones scored twice in the eighth and once in the ninth to send the IronBirds to a 7-6 defeat. The paid attendance was 5,033.
"I mean it's, I've never been around a streak like this playing-wise and you know, everything is magnified in the beginning of the year," IronBirds manager Matt Merullo said after the post-game fireworks. "For me it's strengthening a team that is trying to find itself."
Cyclones right fielder Michael Bernal was the biggest pain for Aberdeen. His two-run triple in the first gave his team a quick 2-0 lead off Aberdeen starter Stephen Tarpley. Bernal tripled in another run in the third and then scored the Cyclones fourth run on Jeffrey Diehl's single. It was Bernal's leadoff single that ignited the Cyclones eighth inning rally. He then added his fourth, a double in the ninth.
Aberdeen had a few bright spots, started by catcher Alex Murphy. A Baltimore native, who played in Ripken Stadium a few years back as a member of the Calvert Hall baseball team, Murphy put Aberdeen on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first with a solo home run just over the left field fence. It was Murphy's first this season and first as an IronBird.
"He just hung a curve ball and I jumped on it," Murphy said. "It's still tough to lose, if we don't win it's nothing."
The IronBirds evened the score at 2 in the second when Riley Palmer singled and scored. Palmer drew three pickoff throws from Cyclones pitcher Casey Meisner. The third sailed past the first baseman and up the first base wall into right field and Palmer raced to third. He scored from there on an Oswill Lartiguez sac fly.
Brooklyn scored twice in the third, but so did Aberdeen. Justin Viele led off with a walk and Stephen Wilkerson doubled him to third. Viele scored on a balk and Wilkerson later scored on Palmer's RBI single.
Aberdeen starter Tarpley was knocked out in that Brooklyn third inning rally, giving way to reliever Alex Santana, who was perfect for four and two-third innings.
Santana retired all 14 batters he faced, striking out seven. Five others were flyouts and two groundouts.
"I felt really confident with all my pitches, throwing them on any count," Santana said through translator and teammate Jamill Moquette.
With Santana keeping the Cyclones bats silent, Aberdeen surged ahead for the first and only time in the sixth. Palmer collected his third hit to start the inning and Manny Hernandez followed with a walk.
Jay Gonzalez also walked with one out to load the bases off Brooklyn reliever Kelly Secrest. Secrest struck out Cory Segui for the second out, but Viele followed with a flair down the right field line that scored both Palmer and Hernandez. The lead stuck until the Brooklyn rally in the eighth and the winning run in the ninth.
Aberdeen had runners on in both the eighth and ninth innings, but had nothing to show for it.
IronBirds reliever Derrick Bleeker took the loss in an inning plus of work. He was tagged with the final three Brooklyn runs and left the game in the ninth with an undisclosed injury.
IronBirds on the move
Prior to Friday night's home opener, the Baltimore Orioles and Aberdeen IronBirds announced a few roster moves.
Outfielder Sam Kimmel (.318, three extra-base hits) was promoted from Aberdeen to Delmarva.
Pitcher Elias Pinales, infielder Ronarsy Ledesma and outfielder Alex Mercedes were transferred from Aberdeen to the GCL.
IronBirds lose road finale
Playing their seventh and final road game to begin the 2014 season, the Aberdeen IronBirds suffered another one-run loss Thursday night in Staten Island, N.Y.
Aberdeen fell behind early, but led in the middle stages of the game. The lead, though, was lost in the bottom of the sixth and the Yankees went on to win, 5-4.
Aberdeen will play its home opener Friday night versus the Brooklyn Cyclones at Ripken Stadium. First pitch is set for 7:35 p.m.
In Thursday's loss, the IronBirds gave up two runs in the first. Jonah Heim's first homer of the season cut the lead in half in the second and then, when Heim reached on a throwing error in the fourth, Hector Veloz scored to tie the game.
Aberdeen took its only lead in the fifth, 3-2, as Ronarsy Ledesma singled in Sam Kimmel.
Staten Island regained the lead for good, highlighted by a Bubba Jones two-run home run. The IronBirds lone error in the contest put the runner on base in front of the Jones blast.
Aberdeen loaded the bases in the eighth and added its fourth run on a Cory Segui sacrifice fly. Aberdeen stranded two runners in scoring position to end the inning.
Aberdeen also had the tie run on in the ninth with one out, but Yankees closer Jose Pena got two fly ball outs to end the game.
Designated hitter Alex Murphy had three of Aberdeen's nine hits. Kimmel and Ledesma had two hits each.