Two Cyclones relievers are hurling their way toward history after reaching the NY-Penn League all star break without giving up a single run.
Paul Sewald and Logan Taylor both boast 0.00 ERAs for the season as neither of them have allowed a batter to cross the plate — even on an unearned run.
Sewald has pitched 20.2 scoreless innings in twelve appearances, racking up four saves and 23 strike-outs while giving up 13 hits and two walks. To be in the running for the NY-Penn League’s all-time record, he’ll need pitch at least 24 frames while keeping his ERA below the 0.26 record established by Marc Pisciotta, who gave up just one earned run in 34 innings for the Welland Pirates in 1991.
Taylor has more work to do: he has goose-egged batters for 9.2 innings in eight appearances, racking up 10 strike-outs while giving up five hits and no walks — meaning he’ll need to last another 14.8 innings of scoreless baseball to have a chance at the record.
To snag second or third place in the record books, the Clones relievers would need to best Jason Jimenez, who posted a 0.28 ERA in his 1997 rookie year with the Hudson Valley Renegades after allowing one earned run in 31.2 innings, or Joe Little, another Renegade who pulled a 0.29 ERA after tossing exactly 31 frames and yielding just a single run.
The Cyclones team record would be only a little easier to beat: it belongs to Eddie Camacho, who finished the 2004 season with a 0.69 ERA after pitching 39 innings and surrendering just three earned runs.
Both pitchers would be on track to shatter the major league modern-era ERA record, held by Boston’s Dutch Leonard, who boasted a 0.96 ERA in 1914 on 224.2 innings pitched. They’d also pass “Smiling” Tim Keefe of the Troy Trojans, who gave up 10 earned runs in 105 innings of work for a 0.86 ERA in 1880 — back when pitchers threw underhand and batters requested where they wanted the ball to be tossed.
But Sewald says he doesn’t have the record books — or Smiling Tim — on his mind. “The most important thing to me is just getting the hitter I’m facing out, making the pitch,” Sewald said. “The rest I try to block out.”
However, Sewald admits he gets a little anxious when there are runners in scoring position.
“With guys on base, I do get a little more focused,” said the Las Vegas-native out of the University of San Diego. “I wish it wasn’t like that, because you should have that focus all the time.”
Clones pitching coach Marc Valdes says there’s really no secret to grooming pitchers with flawless ERAs.
“I treat all the guys the same. We work the fastball on both sides of the plate and focus on getting strikes,” Valdes said, adding that he’s not obsessed with pitching stats. “ERA’s not everything. Plenty of guys have not-great ERAs and come through for us. And guys with low ERAs can blow the game.”
A low ERA is no guarantee of a long and successful career on the mound. Pisciotta, who holds the NY-Penn League record, had an impressive major league rookie season with the Chicago Cubs in 1997, and a not-so-impressive final season with the Kansas City Royals just two years later. Second and third place hurlers Jimenez and Little burned out before they got out of the minors, and Camacho, the Clones record-holder, currently plays for the unaffiliated Atlantic League’s Camden Riversharks with a 3.67 ERA so far this year.
Taylor says he’s happy to have his streak, but he understands a stat is just a stat.
“If I give up a run, it’s not the end of the world,” said the righty from Oklahoma. “Zero runs is just a goal, and I’ve been lucky to do it so far.”