STATEN ISLAND – And then it was one.
The once comfortable lead that the Staten Island Yankees (26-17) had in the McNamara Division dropped to a single game on Thursday night after the team dropped a 7-5 decision to the Aberdeen IronBirds (25-18) at home.
The loss was Staten Island’s second straight to the Ironbirds, marking the third consecutive series that the Yankees have lost after losing just one of their first 12 series to start the season.
However, if you are sensing any kind of panic, it is not coming from the Yankees’ clubhouse.
“[The standings] are the last thing we’re worried about,” said Staten Island manager Julio Mosquera. “It’s like I said earlier in the season, development is the first thing we do. We just take things one day at a time, and when you do that, good things are going to happen. So, you just gotta keep playing.
“We know this is not an easy league, and (Aberdeen) is a good team playing well and we’re in a downward slope right now, but this is a good thing to happen in the middle of the season. We just gotta come back and finish the season strong.”
Jio Orozco took the ball for the Yankees in this one, and he battled through five innings of work. After facing the minimum eight batters through the first 2 2/3 innings, Orozco gave up a solo home run to the IronBirds’ No. 9 hitter in the third.
Orozco finished his night after giving up six hits, four runs (all earned), two walks, and he struck out five. The Yankees tied the score at two after the fourth inning, but the IronBirds retook the lead in Orozco’s final frame of work after a balk and an RBI double with two outs plated two.
“He’s always going to attack the zone and compete,” Mosquera said when asked about Orozco’s outing. “You know, he gave up a long ball there, but that’s just going to happen. So I wasn’t that concerned about that. I was more concerned about him mixing his pitches and attacking hitters. And I think he did a pretty good job of that against a pretty good hitting team.
“They’re (Aberdeen) professional hitters and they just made adjustments.”
And it was another frsutraing night for the Yankees’ offense. Despite finishing with nine hits, Staten Island left four runners on base – including two in scoring position.
“You have to give credit to their pitching staff, they didn’t give in,” Mosquera said about Aberdeen. “They did a good job of limiting our scoring. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t get that big hit at the right moment.”
Still, those numbers would have been higher if not for the night of Yankees’ centerfielder Dom Thompson-Williams. Williams finished 3-for-4 with four RBIs and a moonshot two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to pull Staten Island to within two.
“He did this last year, so you know it’s there,” Mosquera said of Thompson-Williams. “We knew it was there, it was just a matter of him getting locked in, and I’m sure right now he’s feeling pretty good in the batter’s box.”
“I’m just trying to stay within myself right now,” Thompson-Williams said. “I’ve been coming in a little earlier and putting in some extra time in the cages.”
“The kid was throwing 97 (mph) so I knew that was his best pitch,” he added about his at-bat in the ninth inning, “and the first pitch he threw me was a slider and it was called a ball so I just geared up for the fastball there and he ended up throwing it.”
The Yankees will now look to avoid the sweep and getting knocked out of the top-spot in the division on Friday night when they conclude their three-game set with the IronBirds. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
“No one is down right now,” Mosquera said. “This is where you find out what you’re made of and who is cut out for this game. It’s easy to ride good things, but now it’s time to make adjustments when things are not going your way. But, I think we’re going to be all right. We’ve been battling the whole year and I believe we’ll make the adjustments we need to as we go.”