A Record Crowd and a Well-Traveled Guest
Although Thursday’s second-half opener against South Bend featured very little offense–just seven combined hits in a 2-1 Silver Hawks victory–it did provide quite a thrill for those in attendance at Parkview Field. Thursday night’s crowd, which was treated to $1 beers and fireworks after the game, was the largest ever in the five-year history of the stadium: 8,643. The previous record attendance came on Opening Day in 2012, when 8,577 fans packed the park to see the TinCaps take on the Lake County Captains.
The highlight of this game came on the mound, as Walker Weickel enjoyed the best outing of his young career, striking out a career-high nine batters in 5 1/3 innings. The nine strikeouts weren’t even the most impressive part–it was that after he gave up a double in the top of the fourth inning, he then retired sixteen straight batters to finish his outing.
“I really tried to go out there and attack with my fastball,” Weickel said after the game. “It was a little different for me coming in with a runner on base and at the end of an inning, but it’s still an aggressive mindset.”
Weickel teased opposing hitters with the fastball, whizzing it by them at 95 and 96 miles per hour, then sometimes, seemingly just for fun, mixing in an offspeed pitch to throw them off. It was as dominant an outing we’ve seen this year from any TinCaps pitcher.
Jose Valentin has said twice now that he believes Weickel could be the team’s most important pitcher in the second half of the season. That hasn’t changed the way the 19-year-old views things, though. As he reflects on his first half, it’s a brief look in the rear view mirror and then excelsior, ever upward.
“You really can’t carry anything with you. C.S. Lewis has a quote that says, ‘It’s not the load that breaks you, it’s the way in which you carry it.’ As far as everybody’s concerned, it’s the second half and he first half is obsolete at this point.”
THE MIDWEST LEAGUE TRAVELER
If you’re a fan of the Midwest League, or any of its teams in particular, chances are that you’ve come across either the website or Twitter feed of Craig Wieczorkiewicz, who tweets at the handle @MWLTraveler and blogs at MWLTraveler.com. And yes, it’s not as if you’re alone in not knowing how to pronounce his last name, I didn’t until we finally met last night, either. In attempting to phonetically spell it, I think I’m accurate with wuh (like the beginning of what, but with no “t”)-zoor-kuh-witz.
Craig was a guest on the radio broadcast for an inning, and also joined me an Kent Hormann on television for an inning, too.
It was fun to hear about Craig’s travels and how he’s not a fan of just one team in the league, but all of them, and that he particularly enjoys visiting Parkview Field.
Thanks to Craig for stopping by. Great to meet you!
In yesterday’s blog post, I posed a few questions for the TinCaps heading into the second half, and a few of those were answered before yesterday’s game (but after I hit publish). I wondered what would happen with the rotation with the loss of Justin Hancock, and if there would be a replacement at shortstop with the loss of Stephen Carmon.
Well, the rotation, for now, will feature Adys Portillo and Walker Weickel pitching on the same day, although Portillo, who is coming back from a triceps injury, is only scheduled to make one more start with Fort Wayne. However, Ruben Mejia and Bryan Rodriguez could come off the disabled list any any point now, so right there you’ve got two arms that can jump back into the rotation and keep things flowing.
As far as position players go, I was surprised to hear two blast from the past names: Tyler Stubblefield and Luis Domoromo. Stubblefield was cut by the Padres at the end of spring training, and had his contract purchased from the Southern Illinois Miners of the Frontier League, passed his physical and started at shortstop last night for the TinCaps. The 25-year-old (he’ll be 26 in November) played for the TinCaps in 2011 (43 games) and last year spent 84 games in a TinCaps uniform, starting primarily at second base across from Jace Peterson. Stubby, as he’s known in the clubhouse, was having a good year with the Miners, hitting .305 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 27 games.
Also, how’s this for an age-related note. Stubblefield (birthdate 11/19/87) is the oldest player in the clubhouse and Zach Eflin (birthdate 4/8/94) is the youngest. That means when Stubblefield was graduating high school, Eflin was in sixth grade. Think about that.
Domoromo, on the other hand, was struggling with his offense at Advanced-A Lake Elsinore, and was essentially swapped with Jeremy Baltz who, before being injured, did not struggle with offense. The 21-year-old Domoromo was hitting .198 in 50 games with the Storm. He played here in 2011, recording his best statistical season at .283, 9HR and 68 runs batted in. Baltz, to be moved, was activated from Fort Wayne’s DL and was in the Storm’s starting lineup last night, going 2-for-4 with a home run.
So we’ll have to see how the addition of two new faces, and bats, to the TinCaps clubhouse and lineup change things for the team.
Calvin Harris…take it away!