A Chance to Split
After dropping two straight games to the Lake County Captains, the TinCaps return to Classic Park tonight at 6:30 to wrap up a four-game series. Yesterday’s ballgame indicated a closer game than it really was, as the TinCaps trailed 7-2 heading into the top of the ninth inning, and scored three runs off reliever Felix Sterling, whose ERA actually dropped (10.29 to 10.20) by giving up just one run.
The start to Sunday’s game couldn’t have been much worse for the TinCaps as Lake County did everything it usually doesn’t do particularly well: hit, hit for power, and steal. It’s as if the Captains became 60% of a five-tool player in a four-inning span.
Walker Weickel gave up two home runs, a three-run shot and a two-run blast, and the Captains went a perfect seven-for-seven against Weickel and catcher Dane Phillips. Protecting against the stolen base has long been a weakness of the TinCaps, but yesterday highlighted just how tough a time the catchers have had at catching base stealers.
TinCaps’ catchers Dane Phillips and Rodney Daal rank as the worst tandem in the Midwest League. Combined, the duo has thrown out 13 of 74 base stealers (.149). Beloit is next worst at .212, while Bowling Green is best at .467 and the league median is .261. Individually, Daal has thrown out nine of 38 (.237), while Phillips has caught four of 49 (.082).
Tonight Joe Ross makes the start for Fort Wayne. The team has performed very well when he’s started–they’re 6-1 in Ross’ games and they average five runs per night when he’s on the mound. Hopefully the TinCaps can earn a split here with the Captains. Fortunately, while the last two nights have brought defeat, the teams ahead of the TinCaps, Bowling Green and South Bend, have not been exceptionally hot. As Bowling Green lost Saturday and won yesterday, and South Bend has dropped four in a row.
The TinCaps have an off day tomorrow, which they’ll use to spend out on the golf course, as Manager Jose Valentin has organized a fun, optional get-together for the team to hit the links together. I imagine that’s where a lot of the players would have been anyway, so it’s nice that they’ll get to build some camaraderie through friendly competition.
John Nolan is with me again tonight as we bring you pre-game coverage of the TinCaps and Captains at 6:10. Our guest tonight will be reliever Matthew Chabot. You can tune in on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com. I hope you’ll join us.
A SWING FOR THE AGES
This is a story from a few weeks ago, but it’s a great one with a nice multimedia component to it. Adam Kilgore, the beat writer who covers the Nationals for The Washington Post, put together an in-depth look at why Bryce Harper’s swing is so good, and how it compares to some great hitters of eras past.
With his father, taking batting practice at local fields or in the garage, Harper programmed himself to hit off-speed pitches and pitches on the outer edge to the opposite field. He was only 7 or 8, but the idea stuck in his head. He did not focus on mechanics to achieve his goal; the proper mechanics arose from his mission, like learning a language through immersion.
Harper blazed past his peers, and then past kids a few years older. When the Nationals signed Harper he was, at 17 years old, a fully matured hitter. The first place they sent him was the Florida Instructional League, where Schu oversaw newly professional hitters.
“Working with Bryce,” Schu said, “was making sure he had bats and pine tar.”
Check it out. You’ll enjoy it.
To hear John Nolan’s Sunday chat with TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin, in which they discuss the team’s success of late, and the club’s upcoming golf outing, listen to the podcast below:
Bob Seger…take it away!