Results tagged ‘ José Valentin ’

Sunday Notes, Parkview Camping, Living Color

Fort Wayne lost 9-3 last night in the first game against Bowling Green this year. Adys Portillo went 4 1/3, walking four batters, and the TinCaps struggled with men in scoring position, going 2-10.

From today’s game notes:

Bullpen Woes: The TinCaps bullpen has now allowed at least one run in each of the last five games, and has allowed 14 runs over the last three games, all of which Fort Wayne has lost. Since May 10, when the bullpen ERA was 3.29, Fort Wayne relievers have worked 42 innings and surrendered 22 earned runs, for an era of 4.71 in that  10 game span. The TinCaps have posted a 4-6 record in that time frame.

High K’s: In the last three games, the TinCaps have struck out at least ten times each night. On Thursday against Lansing, Fort Wayne K’d 12 times. In Friday’s 9-3 loss to the Lugnuts, the TinCaps struck out 10 times, and they fanned 11 times on Saturday in the series opener against Bowling Green. On the year, only South Bend (443) and Great Lakes (337) have racked up more than Fort Wayne’s 336 team strikeouts.

Streak: Mike Gallic, with a home run on Saturday night, extended his hitting streak to seven games. In that span, he has gone 15-26 with five runs batted in.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Manager Jose Valentin as he talks about Adys Portillo’s struggle with his curveball, Ruben Mejia’s tough night, and Mike Gallic’s hot bat:

SCOUT MOVIE NIGHT AT PARKVIEW FIELD

After the game on Saturday, lots of Boy Scouts and their parents spent the night at Parkview Field. It was the 13th annual overnight event, and it was a great success as everyone got to enjoy “Toy Story” and some late night snacks down on the field.

Many, many Buzz Lightyear fans were in attendance on Saturday night.

I LAUGHED

BACK IN TIME

The website Uni-Watch.com, which tracks all things uniform related in just about every sport across the globe, has a great reader submission feature in which folks try to put color into events that happened before color photography.

Most baseball fans are likely familiar with “The Catch” made by Willie Mays during the 1954 World Series at the Polo Grounds in New York City. Some estimates say he went nearly 420 feet to catch the ball in the spacious outfield at the park, hauling it in over his shoulder.

Here’s what the photo looks like as we’ve always known it:

And here’s what it looks like, with a digital color touch-up:

I don’t know how long that kind of stuff takes to do, but it looks pretty cool, doesn’t it?

MUSICAL GUEST

The Allman Brothers Band…take it away!

If you’d like to have “It’s All Relative” delivered to your inbox each day, you can click the “Follow” button on the right side of the blog and whenever I post each day, it’ll be delivered at your convenience.

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

On the Road, From the Top, Where Does Email Go?

HITTING THE ROAD

Today the TinCaps travel approximately two hours north on Interstate 69 to take on the Lansing Lugnuts at Cooley Law School Stadium.

The Lugnuts are red hot and have the league’s best record through 39 games. Not surprisingly, they’ve got the best team ERA in the league, showing that pitching will win you games in this league. That is a promising item for the TinCaps, though, as they have the fourth best ERA in the Midwest League and the second in the Eastern Division behind Lansing.

In Tuesday’s win, Donavan Tate returned to the lineup for the first time since April 28. Tate batted leadoff and was the designated hitter for the TinCaps, going 2-4, scoring two runs and picking up an RBI. Fort Wayne has relied on that leadoff spot to be one of its most productive positions this year, and it was almost exclusively occupied by Jace Peterson until his recent injury. Kyung-Min Na had filled in at the top of the card the last four games, but was 0-14 in four games as the leadoff man. Peterson led the league in runs scored and stolen bases before his injury, and so if Tate can match some of Peterson’s production, that will be a big boost for the TinCaps.

Fort Wayne has now won three out of its last four, and four of the last seven. The TinCaps offense has showed great signs of life, especially with the two eighth-inning home runs on Monday afternoon. Clark Murphy and Casey McElroy each hit solo homers as the TinCaps turned a 4-3 deficit into an eventual 6-5 victory.

First pitch tonight is at 7:05 and I hope you can join me from Michigan’s capital city beginning at 6:45 for pregame coverage on 1380 ESPN and ESPNFortWayne.com.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Manager Jose Valentin as he gives his thoughts on how his team coalesced on the homestand and the return of Donavan Tate to the lineup:

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Close to Home, Howard is Back, High Expectations

For the first time all year, TinCaps closer Matt Stites gave up a run. It was bound to happen at some point, but it happened to be at a crucial time in Sunday’s ballgame. Stites came on in relief of Justin Hancock, who had already worked 2 1/3 innings, and surrendered a sac fly followed by a two-run home run by Dean Green that made the difference in a 5-3 Sunday loss.  Stites had gone 13 1/3 innings to begin the year without giving up a run, and he still hasn’t surrendered a walk.

“He’s been doing a great job. The situation can happen to anybody in the game. It’s happened to the best one in the game in Mariano Rivera. You just have to forget about what happened today and continue to get better,” said Manager Jose Valentin.

Stites was frank in his assessment of the home run.

“I was up in the zone the whole time and got burned by one pitch. It was up and away. I missed my spot. I was supposed to go down and away with it. I missed up and he got a lot of it.”

{At the bottom of the post, you can read my story on pitcher Joe Ross, which appears in the current issue of the TinCaps gameday program at Parkview Field}

Today’s a 7:05 first pitch as Adys Portillo throws for Fort Wayne against West Michigan’s Tommy Collier. Both starters have an ERA under 2.00, Portillo at 1.41 and Collier at 1.80, so we should be in for a good pitching matchup in game three of four.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Manager Jose Valentin as he gives his thoughts on Stites, the team’s offense, and his impressions on the loss:

CLOSE TO HOME

TinCaps starting pitcher Matt Wisler is from Bryan, Ohio, just about an hour to the east over the state line. About this time last year he was on track to attend Ohio State on a baseball scholarship. Then, in June, the Padres selected him in the seventh round of the draft, and he was off to Arizona to begin his professional career.

WANE-TV weekend sports anchor Joe Whelan has the story of the beginning of Wisler’s pro career, including comments from his father, Bob, and mother, Sue, who were at Parkview Field for Matt’s most recent start:

http://www.wane.com/dpp/sports/ml_baseball/wane-fort-wayne-tincaps-wisler-beginning-career-close-to-home-jwh

Thanks to Bob who joined me for the sixth inning on our telecast that night, as well.

STERN’S GOT TALENT

Howard Stern’s going to be a judge on America’s Got Talent, and The New York Times wrote about that move this weekend, by way of a profile. (Bill Carter writes one heck of a piece.)

“There’s a certain incongruity in the move, as Mr. Stern realizes. “Me going on a family-friendly show?” he asked.  (“America’s Got Talent,” a celebration of acts from singers to clowns to acrobats to much farther afield, definitely fits that description.) “I’m not crazy. I know there’s a huge population out there that thinks I’m going to come on and ruin the show.”

“It would be really pathetic if I was still in the same space as when I was 20 or 30, when I felt threatened by everyone, and there was no room for anyone else on the radio,” he said. “I’ve come to appreciate other people’s talents.”

That would include competitors Mr. Stern once eviscerated. “I’ve actually apologized to some people I was a real jerk to, because I feel ashamed,” he said. “I didn’t need to be that hungry. There was something going on inside me when I was angry and feeling very threatened and not feeling good about myself.”

It took months of negotiations — including an undisclosed salary agreement estimated at $20 million a year and NBC’s commitment to move the show from Los Angeles to New York to accommodate his radio schedule — before Mr. Stern chose to take up what he called “a noble cause”: giving unknowns a chance at a show-business career.

“I’ve been in radio for over 35 years, and to me that’s the biggest competition in the world,” Mr. Stern said, outlining the ferocity of facing off against every kind of format and host in that medium. “And I was a music director early in my career. So I feel like I have credibility, something to offer.”

He has strong opinions, of course, many framed by what he has seen on other competition shows. He favors the unsentimental, honest judges, the ones “where you say, if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be watching,” he said. For Mr. Stern that means the man who defined that persona on “American Idol,” Simon Cowell (who is also the top producer on “America’s Got Talent”), L. A. Reid from “The X Factor” and especially Len Goodman of “Dancing With the Stars.”

This is the kind of commentary Mr. Stern said that viewers should expect, though he added, “I’m not going to be a stereotype of the mean judge. I’m relying on straight talk.” He replaces Piers Morgan, who had a reputation for brutally frank assessments, and is working with the holdovers Howie Mandel and Sharon Osbourne.”

Could he be the next Simon Cowell, except with a huge head of hair and minus the accent? It seems like no matter what Howard does, people will be watching.

MUSICAL GUEST

Counting Crows…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

P.S. — If you’d like to read the feature story that I wrote on Joe Ross for the current issue of our gameday magazine at Parkview Field, you can find it below:

From High School To High Expectations

A year ago, Joe Ross wasn’t worried about his ERA or how his last start went. Instead, he was busy dipping strawberries into melted chocolate; it was his way to ask his girlfriend to their high school prom.

“My best friend helped me make between 80 and 100 chocolate covered strawberries. We went through the whole process of melting (the chocolate) and dipping the strawberries and letting them dry. It spelled our p-r-o-m on a big platter,” Ross said.  “I delivered it at school so she could see it, and then she carried around a whole thing of strawberries all day.”

In the year that followed, Ross became a first-round draft pick of the San Diego Padres and is now one of the starting pitchers for the Fort Wayne TinCaps. On opening day, Ross was the fifth youngest player in the Midwest League, and he’ll turn 19 on May 21st.

Ross stands at a towering 6’3”, optimal height for a pitcher, but he wasn’t always the biggest guy on the diamond. He started tagging along to his older brother Tyson’s baseball games when he was four years old, and Joe originally wanted to be an infielder.

“I used to be a shortstop, when I was much shorter than I am now, and played second base, third and then as I grew and my arm got stronger I started to pitch,” Joe says. His older brother Tyson, who is six years older, is now a pitcher for the Oakland A’s.

“I was there at every game just in the stands, running around, eating candy and just being a little kid pretty much,” said the younger Ross.

But ever since a growth spurt hit for the TinCaps star after his freshman year of high school and he went from 5’4” to 5’10”, pitching has been his calling.

Growing that quickly certainly isn’t easy on a teenager or his parents, especially when it comes to buying clothes, Joe says.

“It wasn’t too bad because over the summer it was mostly baseball so I didn’t have to worry about all the clothes, but once school started again it was all new clothes and I got some of my brother’s stuff. It was kind of a hassle.”

While the growth spurt was what sparked the Oakland, California native’s development as a ballplayer, he says it was also the time spent with his summer baseball club that helped him turn a live arm, into a powerful one.

“I did a velocity improvement workout in the fall one year. That jumpstarted my growth as a pitcher. I gained a lot of arm strength with the program. It was with my travel ball team, Nor Cal Baseball, and the program focused a lot on core and shoulder strength. We worked a lot with medicine balls and used weighted balls to throw into a net. That was three days a week for three or four months, and that was probably the first time I really worked out hard. I had been in the gym before and worked out, but this was the hardest work I’d ever done.”

The travel ball took Ross to places like Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. He played in ballparks like Tropicana Field in Tampa and PETCO Park in San Diego, where he hopes to play one day as a member of the Padres.

In a few of those tournaments, Ross even made a connection. It was with a player whom he loosely knew, but didn’t realize would be his battery mate just a few years down the road, when they both turned down scholarship offers from UCLA to sign with the Padres. That other player is TinCaps catcher Austin Hedges. Ross says the backstop is one of the best receivers he’s ever worked with.

Now Ross forges his own path, and even though his older brother plays in the big leagues, he says their relationship centers much more around friendship than it does on the game.

“He’s six years older than me, but we act like the gap is two years. I think our relationship isn’t as baseball based as other people might think. The most important thing he tells me is to be competitive and no matter what happens to keep fighting. He’s like a best friend more than a brother, “ Joe says.

Now a year removed from high school prom, Ross smiles. “I don’t think I could’ve pictured this a year ago,” he says sitting in the TinCaps dugout before a game. For the teenage pitcher from California who’s never seemed to stop growing, both vertically and developmentally, he knows that this is just the beginning of what’s to come.

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Scary Scene, Mother’s Day Gift, New Look

Yesterday’s 3-2 loss for Fort Wayne was overshadowed by an injury suffered by shortstop Jace Peterson in the first inning. On a pop-up behind the mound, pitcher Colin Rea headed out to try and snare it, and Peterson came racing in with the same thought in mind. Peterson dove for the ball, colliding with Rea’s torso, and then collapsed to the grass behind the mound. Rea made the play to end the inning, but Peterson did not get up.

He received medical attention from TinCaps trainer Isak Yoon and Silver Hawks trainer Kevin Burroughs, before being taken off the field on a back board and taken to Parkview Regional Medical Center for evaluation. Peterson’s injury was described by Yoon as a neck injury. Peterson did give a thumbs up as he was taken off the field, but it was a difficult sight to see, especially for a player who has put together some stupendous numbers this year.

“It’s hard to see a guy go down the way he went down. It was scary the way it happened. When I went out there, he stayed down, but he was talking. He knew where he was, and he responded to all the questions the doctors asked him. He wanted to get up and walk on his own, but the doctors said no. He’s a strong kid. He had feeling in his fingers. But that’s something you have to be careful,” said TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin.

Valentin also said he expects Peterson to be out for at least a week as he takes time to recover, especially because of the nature of head and neck injuries.

Entering Thursday’s game, Peterson was first in the league in runs scored (27) and stolen bases (15, tied for second in triples (4), third in hits (39) and fifth in batting average (.315) and on-base percentage (.401).

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Valentin about the way his team responded after that first inning, hear pitcher Colin Rea on making his spot start in place of Joe Ross, and pitcher Robert Eisenbach on how he felt like he was a college pitcher again last night:

MOTHER’S DAY

With the holiday coming up on Sunday, millions of last-minute boxes of chocolate are bound to be sold on Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

The construction workers who are diligently working on the project beyond the left field wall here at Parkview Field have already got Mother’s Day figured out:

Taken with the advanced technology of cell phone camera looking through binoculars. Patent pending.

What are you getting your mother? It might not be a message written on a steel beam, but I’m sure there are some creative folks out there…

NEW LOOK 

The TinCaps were gone for a week prior to Wednesday’s series opener against South Bend. While the team was gone, groundskeeper Keith Winter was busy keeping the field in tip-top shape. He even put in a new design on the field, which he calls “Vortex”.

Look familiar? Well if you’re an NBA fan, it just might:

That’s where the inspiration for the new look came from.

MUSICAL GUEST

Paul Simon…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

Wednesday Win, Port Gets Pub, Don’t Tell Johnny

It’s game two of a seven-day homestand for the TinCaps, and Joe Ross takes the hill today against lefty John Pedrotty for South Bend. Also, it’s just one day away from Video Game Night tomorrow at Parkview Field. As someone who spent far too much time as an elementary school student playing Game Boy rather than learning long division, this is a very exciting time.

The 18-year-old Ross is coming off of his best outing of the season. Last time out he threw six innings against West Michigan, striking out seven, walking one and allowing two earned runs. He didn’t get the win as the game went to 12 innings, but did get help from fellow Californian Austin Hedges, whose 12th inning sac fly lifted the team to victory.

Padres Farm Director Randy Smith is in town this week to have a look at some of the system’s top prospects, so keep an eye on the blog, or become an e-mail subscriber and have your daily dispatch delivered to your inbox each day, for Smith’s thoughts on players like Ross and Hedges.

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Early Game, Difference Makers, Podcast

Monday morning ‘s 11:05 first pitch against Peoria gives the TinCaps a chance to erase a Sunday game that got away from them early. A Taylor Davis grand slam off of Matt Wisler in the third inning made a 1-0 Chiefs lead a 5-0 advantage, and they didn’t look back from there, winning 5-2.

Fort Wayne got two runs on a Travis Whitmore single in the eighth, but that was the full extent of the scoring for the home nine on Sunday afternoon. Although Wisler went just 2 2/3, the bullpen came in and finished the game without allowing a run over the final 6 1/3 innings.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, take a listen back to the highlights from Sunday’s game, in addition to what Manager Jose Valentin says his team needs to do to stay competitive in ballgames:

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Lip Sweaters, Life Begins at 40, WinCaps

The first two games between the Bees and the TinCaps have been extremely enjoyable to watch. The games have featured strong pitching, timely offense and well-played defense. In Thursday night’s game, it was the offense that broke out early with both teams scoring two runs in their respective halves of the first inning. For Fort Wayne, it was Travis Whitmore hitting a two-run shot over the wall in right, which as he said after the game, carried up into the “jetstream”. The wind was blowing out to right, but he got enough on it that it would’ve been gone either way.

Fort Wayne’s Frank Garces pitched five innings and struck out seven, vaulting himself into the lead for strikeouts within the Padres player development system. The bullpen was as good as it’s been all year as Johnny Barbato, newcomer Daniel Cropper and Matt Stites worked four innings without giving up a hit or a walk. Cropper pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for his first win.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear the highlights from last night’s game, including post-game reaction from Whitmore, Donavan Tate and Manager Jose Valentin:

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Shipers’ Long Road, True Connections, Chronicling Life

Game one in Clinton was not as friendly to the TinCaps as they would have hoped. Despite taking a 3-0 lead in the third inning, Fort Wayne didn’t score again for the rest of the afternoon. The LumberKings scored once in the fourth, and then two more runs each in the fifth, sixth and seventh for a 7-3 victory. The loss fell on the TinCaps bullpen, which is the sixth time in their 11 losses that that has happened.

Of note in this series for Fort Wayne, is that two players return back to their home state. Travis Whitmore (Burlington) and Colin Rea (Cascade) are both from Iowa. I ran into Travis’ mother yesterday while I was fetching my pregame meal, and she was very happy to be seeing her son playing back in Iowa. Travis told me that he had about nine or 10 family members at the game on Sunday.

Additionally, TinCaps infielder Zach Kometani’s older brother, Paul, was once a LumberKing. Paul, a pitcher, played in Clinton during the 2005 season.

Paul Kometani in 2005

He made 13 appearances, 9 starts, and went 3-2, with a 2.40 ERA.

——————–

Today Fort Wayne’s Joe Ross takes the hill, and he’ll be opposed by Jordan Shipers. The lefty from Bethany, MO, population 3,087, didn’t play high school baseball because his school didn’t have a team. Here are some details from a story written last summer about Shipers:

“The local high school, South Harrison, had just 400 students and did not have a baseball program. There weren’t any summer team opportunities beyond Little League.

So when Shipers was 12 his mother, Debbie, decided to take the dramatic step of driving her son to Kansas City to play baseball, about 100 miles away.

This became Shipers’ routine through high school. The two would drive to Kansas City three times a week for practices, then again on the weekends for games. The round trip lasted three hours. Because Shipers is a pitchers, sometimes those three hours of travel ended up being for as little as 45 minutes worth of practice. When Shipers had multiple games on a Saturday with time in between, he’d head to a nearby skate park to pass the time — much to his coach’s chagrin.”

The only other player who I can think of in Minor League Baseball like Shipers is Brandon Nimmo, the Mets’ first round pick last year. Nimmo grew up in Wyoming, one of three states without high school baseball (Montana and South Dakota are the other two), and had to play American Legion baseball to get noticed. If you know of any other players like this, please let me know. The email is Couzens@TinCaps.com

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my Sunday Conversation with TinCaps Manager Jose Valentin, where we’ll talk about what helped the team to a back-to-back wins over the weekend, the return of Casey McElroy, and the squad’s starting pitching:

SPOT-ON COMMENTARY

Do you ever have one of those moments where you read something and find your self nodding your head in a moment of complete agreement? That’s what happened to me after yesterday’s game when I got back to the team hotel. I read this piece from The New York Times entitled “The Flight From Conversation”. It laments the loss of real, everyday, meaningful conversation with one another, which has been replaced with online blips of interaction:

“We are tempted to think that our little “sips” of online connection add up to a big gulp of real conversation. But they don’t. E-mail, Twitter, Facebook, all of these have their places — in politics, commerce, romance and friendship. But no matter how valuable, they do not substitute for conversation.”

I think I’m one of the first people to be guilty of this kind of thing. I was on the phone with a friend last night, and he relayed a funny bit of conversation he’d had with someone saying, “If you want to get in touch with me, you can do office intranet chat, GMail chat, work email, personal email, Facebook message, Facebook chat, phone call, text message, Twitter @ reply, Twitter direct message. Ok, I think I’ve named them all.” Look at that list! Didn’t it just used to be either face-t0-face or a phone call?

“I am a partisan for conversation. To make room for it, I see some first, deliberate steps. At home, we can create sacred spaces: the kitchen, the dining room. We can make our cars “device-free zones.”

This is what I do when I go to the gym. I lock my phone away in the locker room and take some time to enjoy solitude (relatively speaking, considering I’m surrounded by people, music and televisions) and freedom from being around my phone. I use my cellphone for email ,Twitter, Facebook, etc., so to not think or worry about that for an hour or so a day is a nice feeling. I have no interest in texting while I’m on the elliptical, anyway.

“Most of all, we need to remember — in between texts and e-mails and Facebook posts — to listen to one another, even to the boring bits, because it is often in unedited moments, moments in which we hesitate and stutter and go silent, that we reveal ourselves to one another.”

It’s just so true. So last night, I called a couple of my friends–one from college and another from home. I learned that one friend has a new girlfriend, and is enjoying life in New York City. I learned that another is going to be starting a new job in  Connecticut this summer. I laughed. I learned. I was human.

Even though I’m in Iowa and was talking to people thousands of miles away, I had an experience that no Twitter or Facebook conversation could replicate.

SMART THINKING

I’ve very few memories before I was, say, in kindergarten. Some people can think back to when they were really young and remember what life was like, but I don’t think that strong memory gene runs in the Couzens bloodline. A certain father out there, knowing that his own child might want to know what she looked and acted like when she was young, decided to take a video of his daughter from when she was born until she turned 12. It’s fun to watch, and reminds me of this video, where a guy took a picture of himself every day for six years.

Since I can’t embed the 0-12 years old video, here’s a link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/thefalafel/amazing-12-year-time-lapse-video-of-a-girl-named-l-4x8q.

MUSICAL GUEST

Brantley Gilbert…take it away!

If you’d like to get in touch, you can reach me at Couzens@TinCaps.com or on Twitter @MikeCouzens.

TinCaps on Topps, Wi-Fi For All, Podcast

Thursday was the series opener for Fort Wayne against the Kane County Cougars, and the home nine scampered away with an 8-5 victory. The TinCaps trailed 3-1 after three innings, but clawed back to take a 5-4 lead at the end of six.

The eight inning was the turning point, as the Cougars erupted for four runs against the Fort Wayne bullpen.

Hear all of the highlights (and a little George Costanza) in today’s TinCaps Report Podcast:

IT’S CERTAINLY POSSIBLE

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Dragons Roll, The Physics Road, Wrong Number Etiquette

On Monday night the TinCaps returned home to Parkview Field for their home game action in eight days. However, the result wasn’t as they would’ve liked with a 9-3 Dayton win in the series opener.

Fort Wayne starter Frank Garces struggled with his control, issuing six walks over his 4 1/3 innings as he fell to 0-1 in his first three outings. Kyle Gaedele provided some early offense with a solo homer to straight away center field, and also clocked a double. The TinCaps got multi-hit games from Zach Kometani and Matt Colantonio, as well.

The Dragons entered Monday night’s game hitting just .192 over their last two series, but the bats sprung to life for nine runs on nine hits, and six of the nine runs came in the final three innings against the TinCaps bullpen.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, you can hear highlights from last night’s game, and post-game comments from Manager Jose Valentin and outfielder Kyle Gaedele:

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