A Tip Off the Hat for Adams
In Fort Wayne’s Sunday game against West Michigan, it didn’t appear as it a win would be in the cards for the TinCaps. They trailed 6-1 after four innings, and the hits just weren’t coming against Whitecaps starter Edgar De La Rosa. The 6’6′ hurler had befuddled TinCaps hitters all afternoon with his sinker, but then the seventh inning came around and that sinker wasn’t quite sinking any more.
Fort Wayne scored four times in the seventh and three more times in the eighth to complete the comeback win over West Michigan, and ensure at least five victories in this seven-game homestand. More importantly, the TinCaps now lead Bowling Green by 2.5 games in the wild card race, as the Hot Rods lost to the South Bend Silver Hawks, dropping their fifth straight game.
The kickstarter for the TinCaps’ Sunday offensive was Brian Adams, who leads the team in strikeouts and has been relegated to the ninth spot in the batting order as of late. He had an RBI double in the seventh and a two-run double in the eighth. For as much trouble as Adams has had at the plate this season, and he did Sunday as he struck out in his first two at-bats, the last two were some of his best this season.
He told me before the game about an adjustment he had made in trying to pick up pitches as they’re released, especially in trying to read the spin of the baseball.
“That’s one of the things Iv’e really been getting better at the last couple days. I still have a ways to go,” he said. “Before I was looking out at the pitcher, and looking in the area of his release point. I might recognize that a curveball is where I want it, but then I’d swing at it and it’s out of the zone. Now, as soon as I see (the pitcher’s) hand come up, I switch from the logo of his hat to the release point, and that’s really helped me recognize spin. I’m letting the ball get deeper and get closer. It’s coming along. I can’t say enough about what Burkie (hitting coach Morgan Burkhart) has done for me.”
Yesterday, this was the starting point for Adams’ plate vision:
“They say the logo on the hat is the closest spot to where the hand comes, some guys do the bill. If you look at that specific spot, your eyes focus on that. Then, when the ball comes out it’s an easy transition to try and follow the pitch,” Adams said.
Adams admits he still has a way to go, having only played 12 games last year with short-season Eugene. He says he’s working hard trying to catch up to his teammates, most of whom played more baseball than he did growing up, since he also split his time at the University of Kentucky playing football. The three-RBI game was just the second time he’s knocked in as many runs in a game in his 58-game career.
“I’m excited about where I’m headed,” he said.
Hear Manager Jose Valentin’s pre-game conversation with John Nolan, as Valentin discusses his development as a manager from year one to year two:
A PITCHER HITS
For the first time since August 12, 2010, a Fort Wayne TinCaps pitcher grabbed a bat at headed to the batter’s box during game action, as Joe Church went 1-for-1 with a bunt single on Tuesday. This time, though, it wasn’t a mistake.
The last time it happened, pitcher Matt Lollis, now with Triple-A Tucson, was the scheduled pitcher in a home game against the Lake County Captains. Due to an error on the lineup card by then-Manager Jose Flores, Lollis also had to take three at-bats.
Here’s the account from The Journal Gazette:
The TinCaps (28-18, 64-52 overall) lineup handed to the umpires had Jedd Gyorko as the designated hitter and Edinson Rincon slated to play third. But when the game began, Gyorko stood at third.
Lake County (22-24, 66-49) manager Ted Kubiak alerted home plate umpire Chris Nguyen of situation after Delvi Cid flew out to center field to begin the game. Because the designated hitter, Gyorko, had taken the field, the TinCaps were forced to surrender the role. That meant the pitcher, in this case Lollis, had to bat in Rincon’s slot, which was sixth in the lineup.
Citing a computer error, manager Jose Flores took full responsibility for the mistake.
“I had Rincon originally DH, when I made the switch, it didn’t print out that way,” he said. “We have a platoon with these two guys, every two days, and the way it was written was Gyorko at third, but the lineup card didn’t come out that way.”
Church was forced into action at the plate because Fort Wayne shortstop Stephen Carmon was ejected from the game after arguing a called third strike in the fifth inning. That forced Maxx Tissenbaum from second to short, Diego Goris from DH to second, and left a gap at the DH spot. Under better circumstances, maybe Corey Adamson or a healthy Jeremy Baltz, who is nursing a sore groin, could have hit there. However, the TinCaps were down, 6-1, and Jose Valentin saw no need to put in a position player, which would also force him to put another pitcher into the game if he didn’t send Church, who ended up going 3 2/3 innings and allowing one hit, to the plate.
It was Church’s first at-bat as a professional baseball player, and, if I may say, one of the more well-executed bunts a member of the TinCaps has laid down this year.
LIFE ON THE ROAD
Chris Burke, who played in his fourth game with Fort Wayne on Sunday, has been a traveling man this season. After spending the first two weeks of the season, the former Iona College Gael has been with Triple-A Tucson, Double-A San Antonio and Advanced-A Lake Elsinore, spending no more than two weeks with any team.
As I chatted with Burke yesterday, he told me that when you are transferred to a new club, you get three days in a hotel before you’ve got to find your own housing. When Burke was with Tucson, he was on a road trip to Tacoma, Washington, and Salt Lake City, so the whole being on the road thing took care of itself.
With Lake Elsinore, he was only there for a few days, so he stayed in a hotel (the Lake Elsinore Hotel and Casino!) during his trip to California. It’s in San Antonio, though, that he had the most interesting accomodations–with the team chaplain.
No word yet on what his accommodations will be for the long haul, if indeed there is a long haul here with the TinCaps. Gabriel Quintana is eligible to come off the disabled list on Wednesday, which would leave Burke, a third baseman, as the odd man out.
Fort Wayne’s 114th player to reach the Major Leagues is 2009 pitcher Erik Davis. He debuted with the Washington Nationals in yesterday’s Nats loss to the Atlanta Braves, throwing 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief. He’s now the eighth member of Fort Wayne’s 2009 championship team to reach the big leagues.
The other seven are Anthony Bass, Brad Brach, James Darnell, Mat Latos, Andy Parrino, Ali Solis, and Blake Tekotte.
During Fort Wayne’s Midwest League championship campaign in 2009, Davis was the ace of the staff. After starting the year in the bullpen, Davis joined the TinCaps starting rotation in late May. He finished the season with a 16-6 record and a 3.64 ERA. He started and won Game 1 of the 2009 Midwest League Championship Series at Parkview Field. Davis’ 16 wins not only led Fort Wayne, but were also tied with Jon Michael Redding (Great Lakes) for the most in the Midwest League that year, and in the last decade, too.
Since his time in Fort Wayne, Davis has pitched Advanced-A Lake Elsinore, Double-A San Antonio, and now-defunct Triple-A Portland in the Padres’ organization. The San Jose, California, native was traded by San Diego to Washington in March of 2011. In the Nationals’ system, Davis pitched for Advanced-A Potomac, Double-A Harrisburg, and the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs before his promotion Friday. He replaced Bryce Harper, who was placed on the disabled list, on Washington’s 25-man roster. With the Chiefs this season, Davis posted a 3.00 ERA in 21 games, while striking out 27 in 24 innings.
Gold Fields…take it away!