Results tagged ‘ San Diego Padres ’

A Close Contest, A Padre Makes History, YouTube Famous

It wasn’t an easy game Saturday night for the TinCaps, but the end result was exactly what they were looking for, as they edged out a 4-3 win over the Loons and earned a series victory.

Colin Rea had perhaps the most interesting night of all, as the righthander, who turns 22 today–so happy birthday, Colin–left the ballgame after six innings as the pitcher of record on the losing end. He didn’t have a poor outing, it’s just that things didn’t necessarily go his way.

He allowed a second-inning solo home run to Pratt Maynard, the catcher’s first homer of the year, putting the TinCaps in a 1-0 hole. Fort Wayne tied it up in the top of the third, but Great Lakes came back with another run in the third. Jeff Hunt hit a comebacker to the mound and was credited with a single, but Rea’s throw to first sailed down the right field line and Hunt got to third and later scored. In the sixth, Rea gave up another solo home run and left with Great Lakes on top 3-1.

So he leaves looking like he’ll be the losing pitcher until…

the top of the seventh inning rolls around. Travis Jankowski clubbed a two-run triple and was later singled home by Travis Whitmore, making it a three-run inning for the TinCaps.

Daniel Cropper’s ninth-inning was a little gut-wrenching as the first two runners reached base, but he reared back to retire three in a row and secure his seventh save of the year.

The TinCaps have now won three series in a row and sit in first place in the Eastern Division. Albeit very early in the half–just nine games in–this team has played a markedly different brand of baseball from the first 70 games.

Part of the reason the team has been so successful in the first half has been the pitching of Adys Portillo. His struggles in 2011 are well chronicled, a 3-11 record and a 7.11 ERA. This year, his 1.76 ERA is the best in the entire league. I chatted with him before Saturday’s game to talk about his great season. Among the highlights:

On playing winter ball in Venezuela:

“There are a lot of big league players there. I remember I faced Asdrubal Cabrera, Wilson Ramos, a lot of big leaguers. When I came this year to spring training and I saw the hitters, I felt really good about (my situation). Last year I tried to strike out everybody. This year I try to get a spot and hit that spot. This year I am a pitcher. Last year I just tried to throw the ball. Now I’m a pitcher.”

On confidence:

“When you’re a pitcher and you go to the mound and you have a confidence in your fastball and your breaking pitch, you just go out there and hit the spots. I say, ‘Ok, I’m gonna throw my fastball now and he doesn’t have a chance. He’s not gonna hit me. I’m gonna throw my breaking pitch and he’s gonna hit a ground ball.’ (Pitching Coach) Willie (Blair) told me to just think about when you’re going to throw the fastball, what’s going to happen after you throw the fastball.”

On pitching in the All-Star game and potential advancement:

“I remember I called my mom and said “Wow, Mom, I can’t believe it after I had a bad year last year and now I’m in the All-Star game, I got the ball for the first pitch, I started and I won.’ My goal is to finish at another level (this year) if that cannot happen, then I’m going to keep working hard here and see what happens next year. When I look at the numbers this year, I say ‘wow’, finally I’ve got some results because I’ve worked hard. Now I feel really good, I feel happy and I enjoy every time when I go to the mound.”

In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, you can hear my full conversation with Adys Portillo:

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Saturday’s Loss, The No No-No Club, The Consequences of Caring

Jose Valentin didn’t struggle to find his thoughts after Saturday night’s loss for Fort Wayne, it’s just that they came with a sense of apparent frustration.

The TinCaps went up 2-0 in the first inning against South Bend in the opener of  a three-game series, but ended up on the losing end of a 9-3 final score. Matt Wisler started the game and threw five innings, allowing one run. He left in line for the victory, the score 2-1 at the time of his departure.

“He deserved to get a win, and we didn’t help him out,” Valentin said. “Our pitching staff has been great all year…They either keep us in the game or give us a chance to score some runs. Our offense (does not) help at all.”

The TinCaps have the league’s second-lowest average, hitting .237 as a club. Valentin has placed a particular emphasis on getting runners home once they’re on base. Saturday night the TinCaps were 0-10 with runners in scoring position. Over the last seven games, the team has gone 6-63 (.095) with runners in scoring position.

“We are the best team in (batting practice). In the cages, unbelievable,” Valentin said. “But when we get to the game, we are a different team. It’s tough.”

The TinCaps are now 28-34, with eight games remaining in the first half. Today they face one of the more talented pitchers the Midwest League has to offer, Archie Bradley. The 19-year-old was selected seventh overall last June by the Diamondbacks. He’s faced the TinCaps twice this year and in 11 innings, he’s given up six hits, four earned runs, walked six and struck out ten. While he’s got maybe the best curveball in the league, he’s proved hittable in his last two starts. Over his last 9 2/3 innings, he’s given up nine earned runs and taken the loss his last two starts. Could today be his third? You can find out by joining us at Parkview Field, listening to the radio broadcast on 1380 ESPN and ESPNFortWayne.com, or watching on TV on XFINITY Digital Cable Channel 81. First pitch is at 3:05.

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Prospecting, On the Ground Floor, An Ode to Sweet Tea

Rain struck Parkview Field for the first time this season, and postponed Thursday’s game between the TinCaps and Loons.

Fortunately, it wasn’t the last day of the series and the two teams will be able to make up the missed action as part of a doubleheader tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 5:35. Doubleheaders are scheduled for two seven-inning games. Adys Portillo is set to start in game one and Colin Rea in game two. If you were planning on coming out for Star Wars Night, fear not, you must. Scheduled for game two the festivities are.

After a 10-15 April, the TinCaps finished the month of May with a record of 14-14. Fort Wayne is 14.5 games out of first place, but just 4.5 games out of second place. The first and second place finishers in each half qualify for the postseason. It doesn’t look like any team will be able to catch Lansing, but the battle for second place is fierce. Bowling Green and Great Lakes are tied for second place (10.5 games back), South Bend is in fourth (12 games back), Lake County is in fifth (13.5 games back), West Michigan is in sixth (14.0 games back) and the TinCaps are in seventh. Dayton, 18.5 games out of first, is in a distant eighth place.

Looking ahead, the TinCaps have a three-game series at Lake County in Eastlake, Ohio this weekend. Upon Googling “Eastlake ohio” (No, I didn’t use a comma or capitalize for Google…painful, I know),  I found that the mayor of this city is Ted Andrzejewski. Since the Scripps National Spelling Bee was held yesterday, I challenge you to make your own today in your workplace. You’ll only need one word, since nobody will actually be able to spell Andrzejewski. The problem is, you’ll have to figure out how to pronounce it first. I wish you luck.

Back to baseball–the Captains have lost five in a row, so that’s good news for the TinCaps, who have dropped three straight. The name to watch for with the Captains is Francisco Lindor, the top prospect in the Indians farm system. He was hitting as high as .327 on May 17, and is still hitting a pretty solid .286. What folks say has really been impressive is his glove. The TinCaps and Captains played three games against one another to open the year, and no team is the same on Opening Day as it is on June 1st, so I’m eager to see how Lindor has progressed.

The Plain Dealer, Cleveland’s big paper, recently put together a profile on the shortstop:

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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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Stubblefield’s Success, Up In a Helicopter, Mother’s Day Threads

If you were out at Parkview Field on Saturday night, you witnessed quite a showing from the TinCaps. 12 runs on 15 hits and two home runs mixed in made for a good recipe in a 12-4 win over the West Michigan Whitecaps in the opener of a four-game series.

Duanel Jones hit his first home run of the season and Tyler Stubblefield hit his first as a member of the TinCaps. Despite playing here last year for 42 games, the infielder didn’t go deep. He’d hit one home run earlier this year with Advanced-A Lake Elsinore, but before that his only home run was with the Eugene Emeralds on June 19th, 2010. Clark Murphy also knocked in three, which were his first runs batted in of the year.

Cody Hebner didn’t have his sharpest stuff on Saturday, but still worked through five innings to get the win and improve to 4-1. He has received a staggering amount of run support this year. In his last start, the TinCaps scored 11 runs, and his season average of runs scored per game when he starts is now 8.1. For reference, the next closest in that category is Adys Portillo at four runs per game.

Here’s a peek at the special jerseys the TinCaps will wear today. This is Corey Adamson’s #25:

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