A Close Contest, A Padre Makes History, YouTube Famous

It wasn’t an easy game Saturday night for the TinCaps, but the end result was exactly what they were looking for, as they edged out a 4-3 win over the Loons and earned a series victory.

Colin Rea had perhaps the most interesting night of all, as the righthander, who turns 22 today–so happy birthday, Colin–left the ballgame after six innings as the pitcher of record on the losing end. He didn’t have a poor outing, it’s just that things didn’t necessarily go his way.

He allowed a second-inning solo home run to Pratt Maynard, the catcher’s first homer of the year, putting the TinCaps in a 1-0 hole. Fort Wayne tied it up in the top of the third, but Great Lakes came back with another run in the third. Jeff Hunt hit a comebacker to the mound and was credited with a single, but Rea’s throw to first sailed down the right field line and Hunt got to third and later scored. In the sixth, Rea gave up another solo home run and left with Great Lakes on top 3-1.

So he leaves looking like he’ll be the losing pitcher until…

the top of the seventh inning rolls around. Travis Jankowski clubbed a two-run triple and was later singled home by Travis Whitmore, making it a three-run inning for the TinCaps.

Daniel Cropper’s ninth-inning was a little gut-wrenching as the first two runners reached base, but he reared back to retire three in a row and secure his seventh save of the year.

The TinCaps have now won three series in a row and sit in first place in the Eastern Division. Albeit very early in the half–just nine games in–this team has played a markedly different brand of baseball from the first 70 games.

Part of the reason the team has been so successful in the first half has been the pitching of Adys Portillo. His struggles in 2011 are well chronicled, a 3-11 record and a 7.11 ERA. This year, his 1.76 ERA is the best in the entire league. I chatted with him before Saturday’s game to talk about his great season. Among the highlights:

On playing winter ball in Venezuela:

“There are a lot of big league players there. I remember I faced Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, a lot of big leaguers. When I came this year to spring training and I saw the hitters, I felt really good about (my situation). Last year I tried to strike out everybody. This year I try to get a spot and hit that spot. This year I am a pitcher. Last year I just tried to throw the ball. Now I’m a pitcher.”

On confidence:

“When you’re a pitcher and you go to the mound and you have a confidence in your fastball and your breaking pitch, you just go out there and hit the spots. I say, ‘Ok, I’m gonna throw my fastball now and he doesn’t have a chance. He’s not gonna hit me. I’m gonna throw my breaking pitch and he’s gonna hit a ground ball.’ (Pitching Coach) Willie (Blair) told me to just think about when you’re going to throw the fastball, what’s going to happen after you throw the fastball.”

On pitching in the All-Star game and potential advancement:

“I remember I called my mom and said “Wow, Mom, I can’t believe it after I had a bad year last year and now I’m in the All-Star game, I got the ball for the first pitch, I started and I won.’ My goal is to finish at another level (this year) if that cannot happen, then I’m going to keep working hard here and see what happens next year. When I look at the numbers this year, I say ‘wow’, finally I’ve got some results because I’ve worked hard. Now I feel really good, I feel happy and I enjoy every time when I go to the mound.”

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, you can hear my full conversation with Adys Portillo:

A PADRE MAKES HISTORY

Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal didn’t play in Fort Wayne (he was acquired in the off-season in a trade with the Reds),  but he’s still someone to keep an eye on, as it looks like he could be making an impact at the major league level for quite some time.

He made his first MLB start last night, and what a game it was. Here’s the breakdown, courtesy of ESPN:

From Elias: 23-year-old rookie catcher Yasmani Grandal hit a pair of home runs–his first two major-league hits–and the Padres went on to defeat the Rockies in Denver, 8-4. Grandal hit the first of his homers batting right-handed off Christian Friedrich, and he hit the next one from the left side off Jeremy Guthrie. Grandal became the first player in history whose first two major-league hits were a pair of home runs, in the same game, from each side of the plate.

I remember watching Grandal play for the Brewster Whitecaps of the Cape Cod Baseball League in the summer of 2008, when he was still in college at the University of Miami. It’s incredible to see how quickly some players rise through the system.

After being drafted in the first round in 2010 by Cincinnati, Grandal played eight games in the Arizona League in 2010. In 2011, he played at three levels–Hi-A, Double-A and Triple—before being traded on December 17, 2011 to the Padres. This year he has suited up in 56 games for Triple-A Tucson. In total that’s just 169 games in the minors, not even two full seasons.

YOUTUBE FAMOUS

Sunday is the perfect day to read long articles and stories because, well–why not? What else are you doing? It’s a time to relax. 

This week The New York Times Magazine features YouTube stars, a growing sector of the population that tries to become famous and make money by putting videos about anything online.  There are people who tell jokes, sing their own songs, sing other people’s songs and do all sorts of things–and for some it’s even a way to make a living.

These folks can receive a share of the ad revenue from pre-roll clips that play before their videos on YouTube. The challenge now becomes this: since so many people are realizing that they might be able to make it ‘big’ that way, making sure your videos are the best and most profitable becomes more difficult with more and more copycats out there. It’s a good article that’s worth the time to read.

It also includes this excellent quote from one aspiring YouTube ‘star':

“For a long time, I worked so hard, and I felt like no one was watching,” she told me in April. “I wasn’t getting the numbers that, you know, cat videos were getting.” When we spoke, she was negotiating to host an online series, as well as pursuing more mainstream options, like a TV writing gig and developing a pitch for a network show.

I’m lucky I don’t have to compete with cat videos–I’d stand no chance.

MUSICAL GUEST

Jet…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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