Playoff Preview, FW-BG Numbers Game, Renfroe Q&A
For the fifth straight season, the Fort Wayne TinCaps are in the playoffs. In case you missed Monday’s game, here’s the recap, including the promotion in which the team gave one fan the opportunity to win $2 million:
The team worked out yesterday at Parkview Field before a 3 p.m. bus ride down to Bowling Green, and after the workout Jose Valentin spoke with the media about the team’s first-round playoff series.
Here are a few excerpts:
Valentin on Bowling Green:
“They’re aggressive, they know how to run the bases. That’s a team where you can’t afford to make a mistake otherwise they’re going to make you pay. In order to win, we’ve got to be smart…Hopefully our pitchers give us a chance to keep the game close, and hopefully our offense shows up. We have to score some runs, especially with a team like Bowling Green.”
Valentin on his bench:
“We’ve got Goris who is a right-handed hitter. Tissenbaum is one of the best hitters on our team. And then I’ve got Adams as another outfielder. His offense wasn’t that good, but even with his lower average he was second or third on the team with average and RBI’s. But he’s a good runner. And then I’ve got Miller as a backup catcher. I think my team has a pretty good balance. It’s about going up there, executing and playing good.”\
Valentin on selecting Joe Ross as his game one starter:
“Joe Ross has been number one all year round. He’s our horse. It’s something where you’ve just got to go by numbers. He’s pitched pretty good by numbers. You’ve got to go with the best one right away and try and get a win on the road.”
For full comments from Valentin, listen to today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:
THE HOT RODS
Here’s a quick look at why the Hot Rods, who went 44-26 in the second half and were 82-56 for the year, are a dangerous team:
-Three of their starters were in the top 15 among Low Class-A (Midwest and South Atlantic Leagues) players in terms of on-base percentage:
#6 Tommy Coyle – .399
#10 Joey Rickard – .390
#11 Leonardo Reginatto .388
And don’t forget about Andrew Toles, who led the Midwest League with a .325 batting average while stealing 62 bases.
-They have a ton of guys who are proficient at driving in runs. Eight players on Bowling Green’s roster have driven in at least 49 runs:
Marty Gantt and Tyler Goeddel: 65
Joey Rickard: 63
Tommy Coyle: 58
Andrew Toles and Patrick Leonard: 57
Justin O’Conner: 56
Leonardo Reginatto and Luke Maile: 49
Meanwhile, the TinCaps have only two players to have reached that total: Alberth Martinez (58) and Diego Goris (52).
-Both of their catchers are extremely difficult to run on. Why? Well, Justin O’Conner has thrown out 51% of baserunners and Luke Maile has thrown out 56%. No dropoff between either guy.
Mallex Smith, Fort Wayne’s leading base stealer, knows that well.
“Their catcher is real good,” Smith told The News-Sentinel in regard to O’Conner who has played 102 games to Maile’s 95. “He has a good arm, good release. You aren’t going to mess up and run on him. Everything has to be perfect. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.”
Their starter tonight, Jeff Ames, went 9-4 with a 2.98 ERA during the regular season. Here’s how the TinCaps fared against him during the year:
Brian Adams: 3-8, 2 RBI
Reynaldo Bruguera: 2-3. HR
Rodney Daal: 0-5
Luis Domoromo: 0-3
Diego Goris: 0-3
Alberth Martinez, 3-8, 2 RBI
Gabriel Quintana: 5-8, 2 HR, 3 RBI
Mallex Smith: 1-7, 3BB, SB
Tyler Stubblefield: 1-2
Luis Tejada: 0-7
Maxx Tissenbaum: 1-3, RBI
(Research courtesy of the Bowling Green Media Relations Department)
During the regular season the TinCaps were 5-10 against the Hot Rods, but four of the five wins came at Bowling Green Ballpark.
I hope you’ll join me for tonight’s broadcast, which gets going at 7:45 p.m. for a scheduled 8:05 first pitch. You can hear the game on The Fan 1380 in Fort Wayne and TheFanFortWayne.com everywhere else in the world. Joe Ross will be my pregame guest.
LIFE ON THE ROAD
I had a nice breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel, which is located directly across from the team’s lodging establishment here in Bowling Green, the Home-Towne Suites (at least, that’s how it’s spelled on the website, although this sign apparently begs to differ). I do have a question for their marketing folks, though, as I don’t know how well thought out this slogan is:
Like the name of this blog, the unexpected is really relative to what one is expecting, which, in this case, could be different for each guest. When I stay somewhere, I expect, at a minimum:
-A clean bathroom
-Working air conditioning
-A well-lit room
-Consistently working high-speed internet
I don’t ask for much. But then, in this case, the unexpected might be that I’m actually sharing a room with a guest who’s already there, hostel style, because they ran out of rooms. Or, it could be that I’ve been upgraded to the Presidential Suite. But who knows? Sometimes, hotel marketers, just the expected is good enough. Then again, I suppose this explains the asparagus-flavored ice cream cake I found in the shower…
TinCaps outfielder Hunter Renfroe recently answered a few questions for FanGraphs, talking about his hitting approach, adjustments and his history as more than just an outfielder.
On his hitting approach:
“When I step into the box, I’m thinking right-center gap — drive the ball from center to right-center — and whatever works out, works out. I just try to hit the ball hard. I don’t try to get too much topspin, or too much backspin, I just try to hit the ball right in the face.”
“Different counts vary my approach. On the first pitch, or in even counts, I’m looking for a pitch in the middle of the plate and adjusting in or out. If I’m in an advantage count, like 2-0 or 3-1, I’m looking for a pitch middle-in that I can drive to left-center, and if it’s outside, I can just take it. If I get down 0-2 or 1-2, or even if it’s 3-2, I’m looking to hit a ball to the middle of the field. Maybe it will be something to drive to the opposite field.
“I kind of accept [being labeled a power hitter] but I’m trying to cut down on strikeouts. I try to hit doubles and not worry about trying to drop and drive, and hit the ball out of the ballpark. I try to use all parts of the field for power, and drive the ball into the gaps for doubles.”
On his adjustments to pro ball:
“Coming off the long year I’ve had, my body is pretty tired. I’ve had to get used to playing every day, using a wooden bat again, and adjust to the professional lifestyle. Next year I’ll know what’s coming, so things will be easier for me. The adjustments will be there and hopefully I can roll right through them and do a lot better. Right now, I’m just trying to do what needs to be done to move on.”
On how formerly having been a pitcher and catcher helps him as a hitter:
“Any time you can dig inside a pitcher’s brain, you do. We have some of the best pitching coaches in all of baseball, and any time you can ask them about at bats and what’s going on… it’s remarkable what they see. I think having been both a pitcher and a catcher helps me. It helps me realize what’s going on the pitcher’s head, and the catcher’s head. It gives me a better idea of what to look for in certain counts — how they’re going to pitch me — and stuff like that. I could have made it, probably, as three different things: pitcher, catcher, or outfielder. I got drafted as a catcher out of high school [by the Red Sox, in the 31st round] and would have gone higher if I hadn’t told all the scouts I was going to college. I also could have gone as a pitcher, throwing 98 mph. It was kind of whatever I wanted to do, and outfield was my best bet.”
Bowling Green radio voice, and tremendous human being, Hank Fuerst has, for as long as I’ve known him, spruced up the home radio booth BG Ballpark with some scented candles. After my Cracker Barrel excursion today, and feeling a bit in the fall mood, I decided to match him:
If I happen to fall into a scent-laden drunkenness tonight, don’t mind me. Just enjoying the pumpkin.
Elvis…take it away!