Homer Happy, Anthopoulogy, A Loss in the Family

Down 3-0 headed into the sixth inning, the TinCaps appeared to be in for a bleak night at Parkview Field. This scene was all too familiar– a late-inning deficit against the best team in the Midwest League, the Lansing Lugnuts. Instead of surrender, though, the TinCaps showed spunk and scored 10 unanswered runs en route to a 10-3 win over the Lugnuts.

It was an impressive win for several reasons on Fort Wayne’s part. First, Cody Hebner didn’t have his best stuff, and allowed three runs on six hits over five innings. Second, the TinCaps were going up against one of the best young pitchers the minor leagues have to offer.  Six-game winner Aaron Sanchez entered the game with a 0.77 ERA, and had allowed just one unearned run in 28 innings of work on the road. He exited after five scoreless frames, and dropped his ERA to 0.69, by the way.

This season the TinCaps had not overcome a deficit larger than three runs, and to try and do so against a Lansing squad that holds the league’s best ERA would be a tall task, but the TinCaps were up to the task on Tuesday night.

A combination of power and persistence paid off, with Fort Wayne launching three home runs against the Lugnuts bullpen and capitalizing on a rare error-filled night on Lansing’s behalf. Tyler Stubblefield, Duanel Jones and Yeison Asencio all hit home runs, while the Lugnuts committed four errors. Three of the 10 Fort Wayne runs were scored as unearned.

It had been ten games since the TinCaps had hit a home run, and more than one month since the team had scored at least ten runs.

Tuesday night will hopefully be a building block for the TinCaps. If the second half is going to be  more successful than the first half, they’ll need more nights like that one.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, Fort Wayne infielder Tyler Stubblefield explains his approach at the plate in Tuesday’s win:

A DIFFERENT APPROACH

Here’s some good reading, courtesy of Lansing broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, on the Blue Jays’ approach to scouting under General Manager Alex Anthopoulos:

“Anthopoulos, 35, while youthful and analytical, believes strongly in the expertise of veteran baseball observers. He thinks competitive advantages can be found in human capital. Today, the Blue Jays employ more area scouts — 24 — than any other franchise in baseball.

Toronto’s theory has become baseball’s latest experiment, and executives with other clubs — not to mention a few owners — are paying attention to the Blue Jays’ 2010 draft. The names might as well be known as the Anti-Moneyball class: Deck McGuire, Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Asher Wojciechowski, Griffin Murphy, Kellen Sweeney and Justin Nicolino.”

You’ll notice that the TinCaps faced Sanchez yesterday and Nicolino the day prior. Both were very good.

“The Jays scouts have a unique way of doing it,” said Nicolino, who was signed by Carlos Rodriguez. “As an organization, you want guys that want to compete. Since I’ve been part of the Jays, that’s all we have. I know this team here, we don’t like losing. The Jays do that. They find guys who want to compete.”

Anthopoulos said this week that Blake Crosby — the area scout whose territory included Sanchez’s hometown of Barstow, Calif. — attended every one of his starts as a high-school senior. “We knew him as well as anybody,” Anthopoulos said. “That’s one of the advantages. But if you have the wrong set of eyes, it won’t matter. You can’t forget that it’s still quality over quantity.”

Syndergaard had a similar experience with Steve Miller, the Jays’ scout in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. Miller met with Syndergaard during the fall of his senior year, around the time his fastball velocity jumped to 92 mph. As the draft neared, Miller called every week. In the end, he made more visits to the Syndergaard home than any other area scout.

“That’s the most beneficial way,” Syndergaard said of the Jays’ scouting strategy. “Nothing against Billy Beane, I guess, but I don’t think you can generate players with a computer.”

The gist of the article is that the Blue Jays are taking the anti-Moneyball approach, and placing less faith in numbers and more of an emphasis on human capital. As the piece asks, “If you were going to give $500,000 or more to an 18-year-old, wouldn’t you want to know as much as you could about him?”

48

Padres Bullpen Coach Darren Akerfelds passed away Sunday, leaving heavy hearts across the San Diego Padres organization. Akerfelds had been battling pancreatic cancer. U-T San Diego‘s Bill Center has a touching column on Akerfelds’ legacy:

“Baseball was Darrel Akerfelds.

“The best medicine I have is baseball,” Akerfelds said early in his fight.

“He loved baseball,” Padres manager Bud Black said last Sunday afternoon.

“Darrel Akerfelds loved the game, loved baseball players. He loved the San Diego Padres.”

Ak loved sitting in the bullpen with “his boys.” He was part mother hen. Being with his flock ranked up there with the best of times.

“I love the early innings of a game,” he once said. “I think fans would be surprised about what he talk about in the bullpen. A lot of it is about baseball. A lot of it is about life. But isn’t baseball about life.”

This was long before the cancer. At the time, Akerfelds laughed about his philosophical waxing.

But when you think back about Darrel Akerfelds …

“Good man,” said Bud Black. “Good man.”

He was. And still is.

The Padres on Tuesday night started wearing “48” patches on their right sleeves. Ak’s number will be there all year. His memory will be with the Padres much, much longer.”

MUSICAL GUEST

Derek and the Dominos…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

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