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Cyclones win battle of near-no-hitters08/10/2012 10:35 PM ET
By Robert Emrich
Brooklyn's Hansel Robles was unhittable for most of Friday night. Unfortunately, so were his opposite numbers on the Vermont Lake Monsters.
The Mets prospect retired his first 23 batters before allowing a hit as the short-season Cyclones scratched out a run in the ninth inning and defeated Vermont, 1-0.
Signed as a non-drafted free agent in 2008, Robles struck out seven before a crowd of 7,175 at MCU Park. The 21-year-old right-hander was perfect until Daniel Robertson singled with two outs in the eighth. Unfazed, Robles got Wilfredo Solano to ground out to end the inning and his outing.
"The question would be what wasn't working for him tonight," Cyclones pitching coach Marc Valdes said. "He was focused pitch from pitch. He was in the 92-94 [mph] range and the fastball tails a little. He's got a sharp little slider and [he'll throw] his changeup whenever he's behind in the count."
Robles did not figure in the decision because three Lake Monsters combined to take a no-hitter to the bottom of the ninth. It created a situation in which Robles thrives, Valdes said.
"He seems to step it up when he has a good crowd," said Valdes, a former big league right-hander. "When his back is to the wall, he seems to step it up a notch. There have been times when we've needed him to give us a quality start, and he has."
The native of the Dominican Republic did not walk a batter against a lineup that included a pair of first-round Draft picks in Robertson and Addison Russell.
"I haven't seen a guy do deep into the eighth and dominate a lineup like that," Valdes said. "He had to mix his pitches and keep them off-balance, and he did that."
Robles was selected to pitch in next week's New York-Penn League All-Star game after compiling a 3-1 record with a 1.48 ERA that ranks third in the circuit.
Tyler Vanderheiden (2-0) earned the win after allowing one hit in the ninth.
The Cyclones broke up the Lake Monsters' no-hitter when Dimas Ponce opened the ninth with a single off Omar Duran (0-1). Ryan Dull took over and uncorked a wild pitch, then gave up a walk-off single to Phillip Evans.
Vermont starter Kris Hall walked one and struck one over three innings and Seth Streich fanned five and issued a pair of walks over the next three frames.