Late-Game Decisions, Small World, Uni-Rating
In the opener of a three-game series, the TinCaps defeated the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the league’s top-hitting and top-scoring offense, 1-0. It was just the second time all season the Kernels have been shut out.
What stands out most from yesterday’s game is what happened in the top of the ninth inning, with the bases loaded and two outs. Cedar Rapids was threatening to tie or take the lead, and TinCaps closer Roman Madrid, the Midwest League’s active saves leader, was on the mound. And then all of a sudden…he wasn’t. With Adam Brett Walker, the league leader in home runs and runs batted in coming up to the plate, Jose Valentin made a pitching change and brought in Trevor Gott. If you’ve watched the TinCaps to the point where you’re familiar with the roles on the team this season, you had to have been surprised by the decision. It ended up working out, as Gott threw one pitch to retire Walker, but the result didn’t change the eyebrow-raising factor of the decision. Valentin explained after the game:
“I took my chances taking Madrid out, but he’s been kind of struggling. Sometimes managers have to make tough decisions. Sometimes we’ve just got to go with out gut, you’ve got to go for whatever you think is best. I wont give up on him. He’ll still be my closer. I’ve just go to have confidence that he’s going to go up there and get the job done. He’s got to work more on his command. His command with the slider is not good and it hasn’t been good enough. He’s got to be more aggressive and throw strikes…It was tough to take him out. Also, the reason I did it because (Walker) is the cleanup hitter and watching him, he’s got a long, slow swing, he’s a breaking ball guy. Madrid in that situation, he might go with the slider, and that’s what the hitter is looking for. In that situation I had to go with a guy who throws more strikes. I was thinking about going with a guy who could get ahead with the fastball…
I know he (Madrid) is kind of pissed about the call that I made, but I will explain it to him tomorrow and hopefully he understands.”
So, there is the logic behind the slider vs. fastball argument, but there’s also the numbers that Madrid has posted in the second half. He fell behind a few hitters yesterday and although he didn’t give up any hard-hit balls, he still loaded the bases. Here’s how Madrid has fared this season:
First Half: 5-1, 1.11 ERA, 33K, 17BB in 32 1/3 innings, 12-14 save opportunities.
Second Half: 0-2, 6.35 ERA, 12K, 9BB in 11 1/3 innings, 3-4 save opportunities.
In the second half, Madrid has already given up twice as many earned runs (8) than he did in the first half (4). He’s also being used a lot, too. He and TinCaps lefty reliever Chris Nunn are tied for the league lead with 39 appearances each.
Meanwhile, Gott, who was selected in the sixth round from the University of Kentucky this year by the Padres, has surrendered one earned run in 10 2/3 innings, while striking out 13 and walking four.
As Jose said, he’ll be keeping Madrid as the closer, which was the role he assumed last year in Eugene, too, but last night’s decision worked out OK.
To hear full post-game comments from Manager Jose Valentin as he discusses Bryan Rodriguez’s slider and other topics, listen to today’s podcast:
BASEBALL IS A SMALL WORLD
So I’m headed out of the ballpark last night when I get an email from John Nolan, and it’s a flashback to a game in the collegiate Cape Cod Baseball League from the summer of 2011. Before I share with you what that email said, let me re-hash the top of the ninth inning for you in yesterday’s game. Trevor Gott vs. Adam Brett Walker with the game on the line. Gott throws one pitch, Walker, who leads the league in home runs and RBI, grounds out to end the game. Here’s John’s email:
On the Cape in 2011 — July 12, to be precise — Gott (Orleans) struck out Walker (Hyannis), who was the tying run, for the final out of a 3-1 Firebirds win. And like (last night), (Fort Wayne’s Maxx) Tissenbaum (Orleans) was on Gott’s team but watching from the dugout.
Second-level nugget: Walker was pinch-hitting there for current River Bandit Austin Elkins. The runner on base was Dragon Zach Vincej. And in the inning, Gott also struck out River Bandit Dan Gulbransen.
Really? That’s a lot of MiLB talent in one game right there. If anything, it should tell you that on your next vacation, if you’re interested in catching some more stars of tomorrow before they even reach the Midwest League, you should plan a trip to Cape Cod. John and I both worked for the Falmouth Commodores, but we’ve traveled all over the Cape (my family is vacationing there right now) and are happy to provide tourist suggestions and restaurant recommendations.
YOU ASK, I ANSWER
Today’s blog question comes from @drkensf, a great FOB (that’s Friend of the Blog for those new readers out there). He asks via Twitter:
“@MikeCouzens Q for future IAR: Excluding the TinCaps, what MWL team has the best uniforms?”
This is an interesting one for me, because I usually prefer boring colors like grey when it comes to clothing, but in the Midwest League, every team’s got a road grey uniform and every team has a home white uniform. I don’t know that I can put them in any particular order for you, but here are my favorites:
Dayton’s green tops:
Burlington’s navy outfits:
Bowling Green’s ketchup red unis:
Having seen them the most out of these three, I’d say the Dragons’ green uniforms really pop the most under the sunshine, as they’re traditionally worn for Sunday home games. They wear them with a white cap that has a green bill, and is a really sharp look. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen the Bees wear the blue uniforms, but I like the color scheme. Bowling Green has what I believe is the most uniform combinations in the league. If I’m not mistaken they have a white, black, grey, red and yellow option each time they take the field. Most teams just have three–a home white, a road grey and an alternate, so Bowling Green’s breaking the mold there just a bit.
As a fan, I must ask, do you have a favorite uniform, whether it be the TinCaps or another team?
Paul Simon…take it away!