Greetings from Comstock Park, Michigan. The TinCaps hit the road this morning at 9AM, arriving here in Michigan about four hours later (with a stop for lunch included), for the start of a three-game series with the West Michigan Whitecaps.
These two teams are separated by just one game in the standings, with the TinCaps 13.5 games out of first and the Whitecaps 12.5 games back. The real goal right now is trying to catch second place Bowling Green, which is 9.5 games back of first place Lansing. There are 12 games to go in the half, and only the top two teams in the division qualify for the playoffs. Every game is crucial for that race right now.
Here are a few notes to get you ready for today’s game:
Sore Ankle: Infielder Jace Peterson, who is fifth in the league in on-base percentage (.399) and tied for fifth in stolen bases (18), has not played since June 1st with a sore ankle. Peterson missed 11 games in mid-May due to a neck injury.
Hot and Cold: After carrying a team-high-tying eight-game hitting streak from May 15-24, Donavan Tate has just one hit in his last 21 at bats. The outfielder, who was the third overall selection in the 2009 draft, has struck out in 14 of those 21 at bats.
Runs In The Family: Fort Wayne Manager Jose Valentin was away from the team for the last two games, as he returned home to his native Puerto Rico to be with his son, Jesmuel, for the MLB draft. The younger Valentin was selected 51st overall by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the parent club of the Great Lakes Loons. Jesmuel was a middle infield mate of top overall pick Carlos Correa at the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy.
With yesterday being an off day for the team, I was at home relaxing and catching up on life. I happened to be tuned into the Mets-Nationals game, listening to Howie Rose and Josh Lewin, the Mets broadcast team. I was tuned in for a few innings around the 7th or 8th, and then checked back in later to find that the game had gone to the 12th inning. Bryce Harper ended up hitting the game-winning single for the Nats. Bryce Harper is 19 years old. Johnny Barbato, Austin Hedges and Matt Wisler, all of the TinCaps are also 19 years old. Harper is one heck of a player.
Thus, this information regarding Mr. Harper:
Bryce Harper, by the way, is the 1st teenager with a walk-off hit in #MLB since Gary Sheffield on 9/9/88.—
Mark Zuckerman (@MarkZuckerman) June 06, 2012
That’s good company.
A BARBER STORY
I’d written yesterday about finding the $8 haircut in Fort Wayne, and what do you know, today I come across a great story about one gentleman’s affinity for his barber. It’s not just a piece about having your hair cut. It’s much deeper than that:
“…To have a head with any amount of hair is to have a chance to connect with someone.
From the years when we are guided by wonder, through the years when we realize not every dream is worth chasing, through the years when we work to provide, and through the years when we just live before we die, we need a haircut. And no matter what we’ve been through, the barber works in closer physical proximity to us than any other professional relationship we have, his scissors just inches from our thoughts.
What he extracts says more about us than it does him. The more a man talks to his barber, Randy tells me, the less that man talks to others outside of the barbershop. In other words, that man needs a friend.
Conversely, the less a man talks, the more he says outside the barbershop. Randy cuts the hair of several doctors in Greensboro. They don’t talk at all in his chair, he notices. Most close their eyes. And Randy does things, a slower neck shave or an extra clipper shaping, to prolong the haircut. He knows the doctor needs the full 15 minutes of peace.
The barber, then, is the man we talk to when we have nobody else, the man who keeps quiet when we have too many others, and the man who cuts our hair even if we don’t have much to cut.
The barber is our balance.”
David Ryan Harris…take it away!
To sum up Monday’s 4-3, 13-inning loss in brief, I present to you the following statistic: Fort Wayne struck out 14 times in the game against Lake County, and 10 of those strikeouts came from the ninth inning onward. The TinCaps got out to an early lead, but it was the Captains who had their bats come to life late.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, MLB rehabber Carlos Santana came to the plate. He was scheduled for just four at bats on Monday night, and had gone hitless in his first three.
The score was 3-1 Fort Wayne, Matt Stites was pitching, and here’s what happened:
The TinCaps wrap up their three-game series with the Captains today in Eastlake, Ohio.
It’s a chance for Fort Wayne to take the series, which would be crucial after yesterday’s game escaped their grasp in the final moments. Five Lake County runs scored in the eighth inning and the Captains escaped with a 7-2 victory.
The pitching matchup tonight looks like it’ll be a good one: Cody Hebner (5-2, 4.06) vs. Joe Colon (5-5, 2.66).
After winning three starts in a row from April 30th to May 12th (3-0, 2.70 in that stretch), Hebner has since gone winless (0-1, 7.54) in his last three starts. From looking at the numbers, here’s one stat that jumps off the page with the TinCaps righty:
Average against with the bases empty: .194 (21-108)
Average against with runners on base: .329 (28-85)
As for Colon, he’s had an interesting season in that he’s registered a decision in all but one of his 11 starts. He features a sinker, and from what I’ve heard from the Lake County radio booth, it’s an effective pitch that induces a lot of ground balls.
In his last three starts, Colon has alternated win-loss-win, but was overall very successful in May going 4-2 with a 1.31 ERA. The native of Puerto Rico allowed just six earned runs in 41 1/3 innings last month.
I hope you can join me tonight for the radio broadcast. I’ll be on the air at 6:45 from Classic Park with our pregame coverage. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00, and you can listen on 1380 ESPN or at ESPNFortWayne.com.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my Saturday chat with Captains Manager David Wallace. He’ll tell you how few times top prospect Francisco Lindor has struggled this year, and fill you in on who his managerial influences are:
Day two here in Eastlake, Ohio was an interesting one for the TinCaps. The final result was a 7-2 loss at the hands of the Lake County Captains. Fort Wayne jumped in front 2-1 after the top half of the seventh, but a five-run eighth inning canned any hopes of a win. Daniel Cropper, who had given up three runs all season, was tagged for five runs as the Captains batted around in the eighth inning.
-It was another good game for Yeison Asencio, who went 4-4 on Sunday after hitting a two-run home run on Saturday night. Asencio’s average is now up to .346.
-Donavan Tate got the start in centerfield for the fourth time on Sunday. Before the game, I asked hitting coach and acting manager Jacque Jones about the transition for Tate from left field to center.
“All these guys are interchangeable in the outfield and we want him to get some time playing at every position. He hasn’t played very much center field this year so Jose wanted to get him some work out there and get him caught up with the rest of the guys,” Jones said.
-Manager Jose Valentin was away from the club on Sunday and will be for Monday’s 7:00 first pitch, too. His son, Jesmuel, is a likely candidate to be selected on the first day of the MLB draft. Jose is back home in Puerto Rico to be with his son for what could be a very big day for the family. During the time Jose was out of MLB and before he got back into the game this year, he was a baseball instructor in his native Puerto Rico.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my full conversation with Jacque Jones from Sunday’s pregame show:
PHOTOS FROM THE ROAD
Here’s my favorite feature of the booth at Lake County:
An electrical outlet that is about seven feet above the floor:
Apparently a TV used to be plugged in there. Now I use it for my phone charger.
This is the Moby Dick sandwich:
Here’s what the sandwich includes:
• Five quarter-pound fish filets.
• Eight slices of cheese.
• Six ounces of clam strips.
• A third-pound of french fries
• A cup of cole slaw.
• “Gobs” of lettuce, tomato, pickles and tartar sauce.
And it may or may not come with a tombstone and burial site. That is a large sandwich. For $20 bucks, though, it’d be worth the challenge with a few friends to try and put it away.
This is the elevator button selection here at the Comfort Inn in Mentor, Ohio:
Just don’t press it. No questions, please.
Lastly, this funny sign from one of the gates at Classic Park:
“Ten years ago this month, The Wire premiered on HBO and… almost nobody cared. The Baltimore saga of cops and dealers, junkies and politicians, poverty and hope, polarized critics, was ignored by the Emmys, constantly struggled for ratings and faced cancellation more than once. But it also inspired a future President, created a bona fide American folk hero, and helped launch the current “Golden Age” of television. Now for the first time ever, the creators, writers, cast and crew recall the making of an American classic.”
I’ve got to say that I don’t watch a lot of TV. It takes a lot for me to get into a TV series, let alone to actually watch one start to finish. I watched The Wire from beginning to end last summer and loved every minute of watching the show. The realistic nature of the program, the characters, the writing–it was all superb. Many people will argue The Wire is one of the greatest shows in history. I am among those people.
If you’ve never watched, I highly suggest you get into the show.
Stevie Ray Vaughn…take it away!
Greetings from Classic Park, the home of the Lake County Captains:
Things get underway tonight at 7:0o with Fort Wayne’s Matt Wisler taking on Felix Sterling. If you remember about two months ago, Sterling was the Opening Day starter for the Captains at Parkview Field.
I hope you can join me on 1380 ESPN and ESPNFortWayne.com.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast hear from Manager Jose Valentin after Friday night’s doubleheader in Fort Wayne. He says his team needs more fire, and that although baseball is a gentleman’s game, sometimes you’ve got to come out swninging:
Foo Fighters…take it away!
Rain struck Parkview Field for the first time this season, and postponed Thursday’s game between the TinCaps and Loons.
Fortunately, it wasn’t the last day of the series and the two teams will be able to make up the missed action as part of a doubleheader tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 5:35. Doubleheaders are scheduled for two seven-inning games. Adys Portillo is set to start in game one and Colin Rea in game two. If you were planning on coming out for Star Wars Night, fear not, you must. Scheduled for game two the festivities are.
After a 10-15 April, the TinCaps finished the month of May with a record of 14-14. Fort Wayne is 14.5 games out of first place, but just 4.5 games out of second place. The first and second place finishers in each half qualify for the postseason. It doesn’t look like any team will be able to catch Lansing, but the battle for second place is fierce. Bowling Green and Great Lakes are tied for second place (10.5 games back), South Bend is in fourth (12 games back), Lake County is in fifth (13.5 games back), West Michigan is in sixth (14.0 games back) and the TinCaps are in seventh. Dayton, 18.5 games out of first, is in a distant eighth place.
Looking ahead, the TinCaps have a three-game series at Lake County in Eastlake, Ohio this weekend. Upon Googling “Eastlake ohio” (No, I didn’t use a comma or capitalize for Google…painful, I know), I found that the mayor of this city is Ted Andrzejewski. Since the Scripps National Spelling Bee was held yesterday, I challenge you to make your own today in your workplace. You’ll only need one word, since nobody will actually be able to spell Andrzejewski. The problem is, you’ll have to figure out how to pronounce it first. I wish you luck.
Back to baseball–the Captains have lost five in a row, so that’s good news for the TinCaps, who have dropped three straight. The name to watch for with the Captains is Francisco Lindor, the top prospect in the Indians farm system. He was hitting as high as .327 on May 17, and is still hitting a pretty solid .286. What folks say has really been impressive is his glove. The TinCaps and Captains played three games against one another to open the year, and no team is the same on Opening Day as it is on June 1st, so I’m eager to see how Lindor has progressed.
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s big paper, recently put together a profile on the shortstop: