A Manager’s Thoughts on The First Month
The first inning of Sunday’s afternoon game in Peoria looked promising–Maxx Tissenbaum and Jeremy Baltz put together back-to-back one-out hits. Although Fort Wayne didn’t score in that first inning, it appeared as though they would have similar success against Chiefs starter Tyrell Jenkins as when they last faced him July 23, 2012. In that start, the 2010 supplemental first-round pick gave up six runs in four innings, in a game that Quad Cities eventually won, 9-6.
Unfortunately for the TinCaps, the first inning was as good as it was gonna get, because they didn’t pick up another hit until the ninth inning. Jenkins, who had never pitched more than six innings in four seasons since being drafted, turned in a complete-game, three-hit performance, completely dominating the TinCaps lineup. After a leadoff walk in the third to Felix Cabrera, Jenkins retired the next 16 batters, with the streak ending when Brian Adams reached on an error in the eighth.
Peoria’s only run scored in the fifth, on a two-out bloop single to right field by catcher Casey Rasmus.
The last time fort Wayne was shut out was August 29, 2012, at the hands of the West Michigan Whitecaps at Parkview Field. In that loss (also by a 1-0 count), Fort Wayne starter James Needy threw nine innings, allowing four hits and no earned runs. However, an unearned run for West Michigan in the second inning proved to be the difference on a day when Fort Wayne mustered only three hits. That complete game by Needy proved to be the most impressive pitching performance of the year by a Fort Wayne pitcher. Rarely in the Midwest League do pitchers throw complete games because of pitch counts, so to see it is a rarity.
Today the TinCaps will try to avoid a three-game sweep in Peoria. First pitch is at 7:30 EDT, and you can hear the broadcast on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne, and TheFanFortWayne.com everywhere else. I’ll be joined by hitting coach Morgan Burkhart during our pre-game show.
Yesterday, during my Sunday chat with Jose Valentin, I asked him about why his team has played in so many close games (two walk-offs, two ninth-inning rallys) over the last week or so.
“It’s the kind of team that they’ll battle and win as many games as they can. The game of baseball is not going to be easy like you want it to be. Most of the time, this team finds a way to get it done,” Valentin told me in the manager’s office at Peoria Chiefs Stadium. ” Sometimes we do it ugly. It’s better to win ugly than to lose. I’m happy. I’m happy for the way the guys are playing. Sometimes you get upset and get into the guys, but it’s going to happen. Guys are going to make mistakes. It’s about not making them too often and not making any more mental mistakes. All I want is for those guys to go up there and play hard. Sometimes we have to be more consistent. Our pitching staff lately has been pitching great, but our defense has let them down. There are going to be times when your offense is not going to show up, so you have to be able to play good defense and keep the game close. We’ve got to find a way to play better on the road, which has been a negative. Overall, I’m happy. “
We also talked about his young pitching staff. Three of the six members of the starting rotation are 19 years old–Zach Eflin, Max Fried and Walker Weickel–and were taken in the first round of the 2012 draft. I asked Valentin about what he though the biggest adjustment has been for the teenage trio in their first month in the Midwest League:
“I think it’s how to use their teammates. Those guys, in their high school careers, they were probably so dominant on the mound they probably didn’t need too much defense behind them. Out of nine innings, they probably struck out 15 guys a game, which is good for that level, but this level is different. The hitters are more mature and it’s a different level of baseball. You have to be able to come through in hard times and understand that you have people behind you that want to help you. “
Weickel will start today, in search of his first win during the 2013 season. We’ll see tonight how well he uses his teammates.
To hear my full Sunday chat with TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin, listen to the podcast below:
Young The Giant…take it away!