Eastern Division Championship Series: Game 1
Here we are at game #142, and the TinCaps are in the Eastern Division Finals for the fourth time in five years. The one year they didn’t make it in 2010, they still qualified for the playoffs. Those facts are a tremendous credit to the Padres organization for putting a winner here in Fort Wayne.
Here are some notes to get you ready for tonight’s game:
What’s At Stake: The winner of this series will represent the Eastern Division in the Midwest League Championship Series. Since 2000 when the Midwest League eliminated its Central Division and established its current playoff format, Fort Wayne has represented the Eastern Division in the Championship Series twice (‘09, ‘12), while South Bend has done so three times (’01, ‘05, ‘05). Overall, Fort Wayne has one title (‘09), while South Bend has three (‘89, ‘93, ‘05).
Sweep, Now What?: Dating back to the 2003 season, five teams (LAN-2003, SB-2005, WM-2007, BUR-2008, QC-2011) that have swept their first-round series have won a Midwest League title. From the 40 first-round playoff series that have taken place in the last ten years, 20 teams have swept their first-round set, 11 of those teams were eliminated in the second round, and nine went on to make the championship series.
Powered by Pitching: Through the first two games of the postseason, Fort Wayne has gotten six-inning starts from both Joe Ross and Zach Eflin. Ross allowed one hit as he shut out Bowling Green Wednesday night in Kentucky, while Eflin surrendered just two earned runs Friday. Both were proficient at inducing ground balls. Of the 36 outs recorded during their respective time on the hill, there were 22 ground ball outs—12 from Ross and 10 from Eflin.
Tough Customers: During their 19 regular-season matchups with South Bend (tied for the most games against any opponent-West Michigan) the TinCaps had their lowest winning percentage against any Eastern Division opponent (.263 vs. SB, .333 vs. BG .368, vs. WM .556, vs. LC .667, vs. DAY, .765 vs. GL, .813 vs. LAN).
Hawk Hunters: Fort Wayne’s top performers against South Bend include Rodney Daal (.300, 3HR, 11 RBI in 12G), Maxx Tissenbaum (.308, 1HR, 7 RBI in 14G), and Tyler Stubblefield (.300, 1 HR, 5 RBI in 13G).
The pitching matchup pits Max Fried of Fort Wayne against Blake Perry of South Bend. Fried was a deceptive 0-3 against the Silver Hawks, because the TinCaps only scored three runs total during his three outings.
First pitch is at 7:05 tonight for game one of this best-of-three series. I’ll have the TV call tonight on XFINITY 81 with Kent Hormann and Javi DeJesus, while John Nolan and Mike Maahs will have the action on The Fan 1380 and TheFanFortWayne.com.
SERIOUS BASEBALL, SERIOUS PREPARATION
Earlier this afternoon, some of the TinCaps pitchers played a game of wiffle ball in right field. Strangely enough, it seemed like Clubhouse Manager A.J. Bridges was the most dominant player. He’s featured throwing some gas in the below picture:
Don’t sleep on A.J. Bridges, as a clubbie or a pitcher. He’s great at both.
Each month the Padres Player Development staff votes on players of the month throughout the organization. This month, Mallex Smith won baserunner of the month and Ossian’s Josh Van Meter, drafted this year out of Norwell High School, won defensive player of the month. The following information comes courtesy of Warren Miller, Manager of the Minor Leagues for the Padres:
Base Runner of the Month
Fort Wayne TinCaps
Fort Wayne centerfielder swiped 18 bases in August while batting .270 (27-for-100) with one double, one homer and seven RBI…swiped 40 of his Midwest League-leading 64 bases in the second half of the season for the playoff-bound TinCaps…his 64 steals were second in the SD organization behind Travis Jankowski’s 71.
Defensive Player of the Month
Arizona League Padres
Shortstop selected by the Padres in the fifth round of the June draft out of Norwell High School in Ossian, Ind…led his high school team to the Indiana 3A state title…played in 44 games for the Arizona Summer League Padres, batting .278 (44-for-158) with seven doubles, two triples and 16 RBI…walked 24 times…made one error in his final eight games, helping lead the Padres to the AZL playoffs…had a 15-game errorless streak during the season.
Phillip Phillips…take it away!