Results tagged ‘ Lake County Captains ’

The Avenger, Hambone, News Quiz

Monday night’s game didn’t have the same irregularities of extreme weather like Sunday’s game did, but it still featured a good amount of excitement. Duanel Jones connected on his second home run of the second half, and the TinCaps bullpen stole the show, as Fort Wayne rolled to its third consecutive win, and fourth straight series victory.

Cody Hebner went just three innings, his shortest outing of the year, but Dennis O’Grady had no trouble picking up the slack and he earned the win with three scoreless innings of relief.

A story that I found to be of particular intrigue was the appearance of Matt Stites out of the bullpen. It marked his fourth outing of the second half, and his first save opportunity since a June 4th game at Lake County. On that night, Stites faced MLB rehabber Carlos Santana, who hit a game-tying home run to right field, and the Captains went on to win 4-3 in 13 innings.

Monday night was a chance for Stites to avenge that June evening–and he did just that, earning his first save since June 1st. It was a 1-2-3 ninth for the righty, who’s  one of the best relief pitchers in the Midwest League. He has a 0.73 ERA in 21 games, with 24 2/3 innings of work under his belt. He’s given up only two earned runs, walked two and has struck out 29 batters.

Fort Wayne is now 8-3, alone atop the standings in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division. The TinCaps have either been the only team in first or tied for first for seven straight days. They’ve now secured four straight series victories in a row to open the second half. The last time Fort Wayne won four consecutive series was last August. If the TinCaps can keep this up, they’ll find themselves contenders down the stretch of the second half.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear from Matt Wisler as he tells us what book he’s reading, and how it’s helped him forge his approach on the mound:

HAMBONE

You’ve got to read this story on Josh Hamilton. No, really–you must. It includes anecdotes from his childhood, like this one:

“Eventually Josh had to be moved from shortstop to the outfield because his first baseman so feared catching Josh’s bullet throws that he began ducking out of harm’s way. Whenever Josh pitched, batters backed out of the box before he even began his windup and whenever Josh came to bat, all of the infielders retreated into the outfield, until finally complaints from opposing players’ parents prompted Josh’s promotion to a league of older kids. Josh and Landon played on a team sponsored by Mitchell’s Hair Styling and wore purple jerseys. They won three state championships in a row.

In one of those state tournaments, Josh pitched a total of 24 innings and never allowed a hit. The next season Josh won a Home Run Derby against a bunch of boys nearly twice his size. At that time, Josh was still scrawny, but he was so athletic and coordinated that he could run backward faster than the other kids could run forward.

Powell has never forgotten a conversation he had with Bob Sanderford, the father of one of Josh’s teammates. “Bob was a former college basketball player who knew youth sports really well and knew sports at a high level,” Powell says. “One day after a game when Josh had done something only Josh could do, Bob leaned over to me and he said, ‘That kid’s going to be the first player picked in the major league draft when he’s a senior in high school.'”

Josh was 10.”

ARE YOU UP TO DATE?

If you’ve been keeping up with current events, you’ll do well on this 12-question current events quiz from The New Yorker. If you haven’t been paying attention, well, you’ll score poorly.

Hint: The Supreme Court had a big week.

I got eight questions right.

Good luck.

MUSICAL GUEST

Led Zeppelin…take it away!

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

Sweep Opportunity, Catching Clinic, Dialing Zero

Make it two in a row for the TinCaps, who steamrolled the Captains 4-0 on Saturday night at Parkview Field. All four runs scored in the first inning, and Lake County was down for the count after that. Adys Portillo worked six innings, giving up three hits, and striking out four. His fastball was nearly untouchable, and he said he didn’t use his curveball until about the third inning. If he hadn’t used it once, his success rate in getting hitters out might’ve been nearly the same. All four of his strikeouts caught batters looking.

Skipper Jose Valentin was a bit concerned, as he was in the first half, the all of his team’s run production came in the first inning, and that the team only picked up one hit, a second-inning single by Jace Peterson, for the remainder of the game. The TinCaps sent no more than five batters to the plate in an inning in frames two through eight. However, a 2-0 start is something to be happy about, and Fort Wayne will look for its first three-game sweep at Parkview Field for the first time in over a year. The last time the TinCaps took three in a row from an opponent at home was May 27-29 last year against Great Lakes.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, an elated Adys Portillo details his outing in which he allowed three hits over six innings en route to his fifth win of the year:

YOU LEARN SOMETHING NEW…

Whenever roving instructors come into town, that usually means that the TinCaps will be out on the field for some early instruction. Whether it’s PFP (pitchers fielding practice) or infield work, the coordinators want to see how each member of the team is progressing.

Yesterday it was a chance for the catchers to get some extra work in, with some great insight from a member of the Padres front office–A.J. Hinch, who is a Vice President and Assistant General Manager. According to the Padres media guide, “Hinch oversees all aspects of the professional scouting department, while assisting Executive Vice President/General Manager Josh Byrnes with determining the Major League club’s roster composition, player acquisitions, talent evaluations and contract negotiations.”

Saturday afternoon he was simply a teacher for Fort Wayne catchers Matt Colantonio and Austin Hedges. For maybe 30-45 minutes, he worked with the two right in front of the TinCaps dugout. They worked on what looked like receiving techniques, and then talked about situational catching.

“The most important count in the big leagues is 0-1″, Hinch told the two catchers. “After that, it’s 1-1.” He pointed out that getting ahead of every batter was paramount to determining how an at bat would go. Hinch, a former major league catcher and then manager, demonstrated in a crouch where he would position himself when trying to help a pitcher get a strike called in certain counts. There are some days where you think baseball can be a simple game, and then you get a glance of ten minutes of A.J. Hinch breaking down arguably the game’s most difficult position, and it’s amazing how much more you can learn.

Hinch, by the way, was a one-time teammate of TinCaps hitting coach Jacque Jones. Go back and take a look at the United States 1996 Olympic baseball roster, and you’ll find those two, born a year apart, were together on that bronze medal-winning team. Also on the roster was R.A. Dickey, who’s starting tonight for the New York Mets against the Yankees on Sunday Night baseball. I think I know what my plans are around 8 PM this evening…

DIAL “0” FOR…

When was the last time, other than your most frequent stay at a Midwest League hotel where the wireless internet wasn’t working, that you dialed “0” for an operator? You can’t think of one, right?

The Journal Gazette hops in the WABAC Machine and takes us to a time before there was a definitive (Ok, not at all definitive) Yahoo! Answers response to every question ever.

Today, we learn about the mysterious telephone operator! 

“For decades, you could not make a telephone call without an operator physically putting the call through. Then it was only long distance calls that needed that familiar “Operator … ” to connect you. Then such service was only needed to make a collect call or to make sure a line was working.

And then … it has come to this: Most of us don’t even know whether telephone operators still exist.

We put the question to Patricia Amendola, communications manager for Frontier Communications.

“Well, we have call center representatives,” Amendola said.

But if you pick up the phone and dial zero does someone answer?

“To be honest, I don’t know because I’ve not done that,” she admitted.

And we’re not picking on Frontier. We called Verizon Wireless, too, and asked spokesman Tom Pica what would happen if you dialed zero on your cellphone.

“I don’t know, I’ve never done it,” Pica said. “I can’t remember the last time I ever did try that.”

He put us on hold, then tried it, and said he got a recording saying whom to call for different needs. We tried it and got no answer at all.

The answer is yes, telephone operators still exist, but their numbers are a tiny fraction of what they were just a couple of decades ago.”

This piece is of particular interest to me because my grandfather, whose first and middle name I share, used to work in New York City installing telephone lines. He would wake up before the crack of dawn and commute from Long Island into Manhattan each morning. I remember the story he told me about getting to go install phone lines in the world headquarters of CBS News, and meeting Walter Cronkite, who he says was a pretty good guy.

And now, you can make a VoIP call sitting at your computer– no phone lines required. I’m still waiting for teleportation…

MUSICAL GUEST

Bruce Springsteen…take it away!

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

Opening With a Win, Remembering a Cardinal

The second half opened in a way the first half did not–with a win. Fort Wayne toppled Lake County 4-3 on Friday night at Parkview Field. Although the TinCaps’ overall record is still just 32-39, a 1-0 mark in the second half means that they’re over .500, something the club did not achieve in the first half.

Now it’s a matter of winning series, and stringing together more than four wins in a row. The longest winning streak of the year has been just four games, while the longest losing streak has been five. The second half represents a fresh start and has fewer playoff competitors (six, opposed to eight in the first half), making the road to the playoffs an easier one.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, Manager Jose Valentin showers praise upon leadoff hitter Jace Peterson, who he says did a great job stretching a first-inning single into a double. Valentin says he’d like to see his shortstop be even more aggressive:

REMEMBERING DARRYL KILE

It was ten years ago yesterday that St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile passed away. The Cardinals were at Wrigley Field for a series against the Cubs, and the two teams were scheduled to play a game the day of Kile’s death.

The two clubs were notified of the news, but couldn’t tell anyone in the stadium exactly what had happened because Kile’s family had not yet been notified. Joe Girardi, now the manager of the Yankees and then a member of the Cubs, stepped to the microphone in front of the Wrigley Field crowd.

“I thank you for your patience. We regret to inform you because of a tragedy in the Cardinal family, the commissioner has canceled the game today. Please be respectful. You will find out eventually what has happened, and I ask that you say a prayer for the St. Louis Cardinals’ family,” Girardi said.

I watched the video of those words (link below) this morning while I was eating my breakfast. Girardi addressing the crowd is a small piece as part of a feature that MLB Network has put together on that day, having spoken to those who were involved. It’s hard not to shed a few tears while watching it–especially when Girardi speaks.

Baseball is sometimes looked at as “just a game”, but it can be so much more.

Here’s the video: http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=22486941&topic_id=7417714&c_id=mlb&tcid=vpp_copy_22486941&v=3

MUSICAL GUEST

Rodney Atkins…take it away!

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

Rubber Match, Floating Shuttle, Dawson’s Message

The TinCaps wrap up their three-game series with the Captains today in Eastlake, Ohio.

It’s a chance for Fort Wayne to take the series, which would be crucial after yesterday’s game escaped their grasp in the final moments. Five Lake County runs scored in the eighth inning and the Captains escaped with a 7-2 victory.

The pitching matchup tonight looks like it’ll be a good one: Cody Hebner (5-2, 4.06) vs. Joe Colon (5-5, 2.66).

After winning three starts in a row from April 30th to May 12th (3-0, 2.70 in that stretch), Hebner has since gone winless (0-1, 7.54) in his last three starts. From looking at the numbers, here’s one stat that jumps off the page with the TinCaps righty:

Average against with the bases empty: .194 (21-108)

Average against with runners on base: .329 (28-85)

As for Colon, he’s had an interesting season in that he’s registered a decision in all but one of his 11 starts. He features a sinker, and from what I’ve heard from the Lake County radio booth, it’s an effective pitch that induces a lot of ground balls.

In his last three starts, Colon has alternated win-loss-win, but was overall very successful in May going 4-2 with a 1.31 ERA. The native of Puerto Rico allowed just six earned runs in 41 1/3 innings last month.

I hope you can join me tonight for the radio broadcast. I’ll be on the air at 6:45 from Classic Park with our pregame coverage. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00, and you can listen on 1380 ESPN or at ESPNFortWayne.com.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear my Saturday chat with Captains Manager David Wallace. He’ll tell you how few times top prospect Francisco Lindor has struggled this year, and fill you in on who his managerial influences are:

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Double the Fun, Old Time NYC, Podcast

A 6-5 win by the TinCaps on Saturday gave the team a couple milestones on the season. First, it was the largest deficit they’ve overcome to win a ballgame this season. They trailed 3-0 after the top of the first, and later trailed 5-2. That was a promising sign for an offense that is starting to come to life.

The second marker of success in the game was the seven doubles that the team collected off of Peoria pitching. That number is just one shy of the franchise record for two-baggers in a game. Eight doubles in one game has occurred twice: May 31st of 2008 against Dayton, and last year 366 days prior on April 27 against Lake County.

Interesting side note–In that game against Dayton, the winning pitcher for Fort Wayne was Jeremy Hefner. He recently became the 108th former Fort Wayne player to reach the bigs. Hefner did it as a member of the New York Mets, as he pitched three scoreless innings against the San Francisco Giants.

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, we’ll re-live the highlights of Saturday’s win, and hear from Corey Adamson, who scored two runs, and despite being Australian, explains why he doesn’t like cricket:

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