Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Well for myself, the dream of going unbeaten in my professional ended today after a tough 10th inning loss. I have to admit, after last year going unbeaten, I thought that it was a fluke and I would come back to earth sometime soon thereafter. However, after seventy plus games into my first full season of professional baseball the streak was still in tact. It’s kind of like having a no hitter going, you don’t really think about it until it’s over. Some may say that all this is just wishful thinking and no one could ever go unbeaten in the game of baseball. Well that my friends, is all the motivation a player needs to accomplish the impossible. Baseball is a game based around failure and the best players and coaches who have ever played will agree when I say it is not about how you deal with winning; that’s easy, everyone is happy and according to Benny, “jokes are funny.” But, it is how you are able to deal with losing and coming back to the park to try and get right back to a positive state of mind. A small part of me died today, but the sun will come up tomorrow, and a baseball game will take place and I will get right back in there and try to start a new streak.
Side Note: 2007 Stats- 0-0 0.00 ERA in 3 innings following season long injury
2008 Until today- 1-0 in 18 appearances
Lets not kid ourselves, baseball is a very time consuming, and for the most part slow progressing game. Every now and then you get a real pitchers duel and the game may squeeze in just under two hours. But, every so often there are things like weather, and pitching changes, and injuries that can really slow a game down. Well we did something that horse race gamblers would kill for; we hit the trifecta the last two nights. Not only did we have a few rain delays, but both teams used a variety of pitching, and there was at least one or two stoppages for one reason or another. This all snowballed into I don’t know how long a delay, but all I do know is that I got home at 12:30…a.m. There are times, like today, when I am sitting in the bullpen thinking, “God I feel like I’ve been here at the field for two or three straight days.” Late games not only put a damper on possible post game plans but if there’s an early game the next day, let me just say as a player, you really need to love the game then more than ever. My guess is that as you progress through the organization, these drag-on games don’t seem as bad. I wonder if any of the Tigers say after a late running game, “Man I can’t wait to get out of this great clubhouse with absolutely everything in it so that I can beat traffic.” Who knows? Maybe a few years down the road when I break into the big leagues I will be writing about this exact topic again. Then, anyone who has read this particular piece can come and I will give everyone free tickets, you know, to keep me humble.
Lucas French improved to 5-7 with a nice outing as the SeaWolves took care of Harrisburg 2-1. French gave up just one run on seven hits and three walks with one strikeout in eight innings.
Wilkin Ramirez was the hitting star in the win. He tripled, drew a walk and drove in a run.
Lakeland won one and lost one today as they split a doubleheader with the Reds. Game one was the win and Rick Porcello had yet another solid outing. He improved to 4-6 and he gave up one unearned run on five hits with two strikeouts in six innings. James Skelton and Pedro Cotto both drove in a pair with two run homers.
In game two, the Flying Tigers were held to just three hits in a shutout loss. No hitter reached base more then once and Matt O’Brien took the loss. He fell to 5-4 and he gave up three runs on eight hits and a walk with four strikeouts in six innings.
Londell Taylor singled, drew a walk and drove in both runs as the GCL Tigers lost to the GCL Indians 4-2. Chao-Ting Tang had the only multi-hit game with a pair of singles.
Brayan Villereal had a tough outing and he fell to 0-1. He gave up four runs on three hits and three walks with three strikeouts in two innings.
Here are a few trivia questions to think about for the weekend. What state produced Larry Legend, the toast of French Lick? Where does the “little five” take place? Gene Hackman portrayed Coach Norman Dale in a film about which state championship game? And lastly, what state is home to two, class A minor league baseball teams who have managed to put the Whitecaps in a state of misery? If you haven’t guessed Indiana yet then you honestly don’t read the homepage of this website too much. The state of Indiana has not been to kind to our team this past eight days, in particular the cities of South Bend and Ft. Wayne. So far we have yet to figure out what it is we need to change in our game plan to find a win somewhere in the Hoosier state. Could it be the hours of television watching in the hotels, or the road food I am ever so fond of? No, because we are all fairly accustomed to living like vagabonds (this is understood when you sign any minor league contract). Or maybe part of this is my fault after trying to explain how well we are going to play in the second half of the season. Baseball gods, if you are reading this, I am sorry. It all comes back to karma, and I will never do anything to derail that train again. Home has never looked so good as it does right now, and I don’t care if we play every team from Indiana for the rest of the season as long as it isn’t on the road.
Over the all-star break I got the chance to head home and play in a golf outing, which, if you are a frequent reader, know that this is a good thing for me. My dad assembled the foursome as he always does (he calls himself the GM) in a fashion so that we would be in a great position to win. This group included my high school golf coach, Vic Callahan, a person I have the most respect for and a man who has been the person I would like to most emulate. I still call him “coach” and he taught me so much more than fairways and greens. This is neither here nor there, however we did shoot fifteen under and LOST, go figure. What I did get a chance to think about while perusing the links was how much my past is a part of my present. I don’t think I have been totally remodeled by the pro game, nor am I a pitcher who has never had to change. I am still making changes, but a little piece of every coach I have had is still in me. Any player who has made it to this level has this in them because the game is too hard to just go out and play with what you have in the bag (to throw yet another golf metaphor in). My dad was my first coach and he instilled the groundwork for my game. Most of this included learning to love the game for what it is. Like myself, he is a pretty intense competitor and sometimes those twelve year old travel tournament games got a little heated and us kids needed to learn to have fun in order to not want to quit before high school (I’m kidding dad). My dad knew though when to turn me loose and let someone else takeover, so in high school, Spada as we called him, did just that. He gave me my drive and competitiveness. His favorite phrase was, “There are certain teams that don’t belong on the same field as you.” Now, I’m naturally a humble person but I still think of that when I take the mound. Spada was the person who got me to college and then my college pitching coach Bob Keller, gave me what I needed to get to the point I am at now. He taught me how to pitch, and our strength coach Jason Cole gave me a few extra miles per hour on my fastball as well as many days of sore legs. And now the learning is still happening and I am always looking for a way to better myself physically and mentally on the field. I have not forgotten where I’ve been because it’s important to know where you came from to get to where you are going.
Ryan Strieby had a big day at the plate in the Flying Tigers 10-4 win over Jupiter. Strieby went two for four with a triple, a homerun and five RBIs. Gary Sheffield belted a solo homer, drew a walk and scored two runs.
Derek Witt pitched two shutout innings of relief and he improved to 3-2. He gave up three hits and he struck out three.
Mark Brackman gave up five runs in three innings but the offense bailed him out so he didn’t take a loss. Trevor Feeney performed much better and he picked up the win. He gave up just one unearned run on one hit with four strikeouts in three innings.
Joaquin Guzman doubled twice and scored a pair in the 8-7 win. Keith Stein went two for five with a double, two RBIs and a run.
Chris Lambert fell to 6-4 on the season after a rough start in the Hens 10-1 loss to the Yankees. Lambert gave up seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings.
To add insult to injury, the Hens managed just two hits. Freddy Guzman singled and drove in a run while Jackson Melian scored the lone run without getting a hit.
Three hits by the offense and some subpar pitching did the White Caps in. The final was 9-1 and it was Jonathan Kibler who took the loss. He gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks with two strikeouts in five innings.
Justin Henry had the only extra base hit of the game. He doubled and scored the lone run for the White Caps.
The SeaWolves took care of Harrisburg 6-3 and most of the excitement came in the final three innings. The game was tied 1-1 through six and then Erie rattled off five runs combined in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Ryan Roberson hit a pinch hit two run homer and Kody Kirkland went yard in the contest.
Lucas French threw a solid game but he didn’t get the decision. He gave up three runs on seven hits and one walk with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings. Juan Cedeno threw one shutout inning and he improved to 2-1.
As I have talked about before we have just completed the first half of our schedule. Now we begin the journey for the home half, and for us, fortunately the pressure to win is not as great and we can just go out and play (this doesn’t imply below par effort by any means). However after a wonderful and relaxing three days off, getting back into the swing feels like spring training all over again. Everyone is real upbeat and as our hitting coach, Benny Distifano, likes to say, “Jokes are funny.” I am going to assume this will last for only a few days, at which time the usual bickering and nothing arguments about something completely non-related to the game of baseball will resume. But, my fellow baseball fans, this is when we are at our best. Playing everyday lends itself to learning plenty from the game and we are still learning and trying to forward our careers. It’s when we can make baseball remain a game and have fun is when you will see W’s in the papers. There is a guy named Eric Shanks who I have come to be familiar with, who says it best. He was a minor leaguer himself and managed to write a few songs about his adventure. “This job I work, it ain’t work at all. Matter of fact it’s just a game…The reason I love this crazy life, it keeps me young.” If you get a chance check out the music here:
William Rhymes drove in two with a triple in the top of the ninth inning as the SeaWolves turned a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Dusty Ryan also had a nice game and he went two for four with a solo homer.
Josh Rainwater had a solid start in his no-decision. He gave up four runs (two earned) on eight hits with a strikeout in six innings. Brendan Wise pitched a shutout eighth inning and he improved to 1-0.
Oneonta won their first game of the season as Luke Putkonen held Vermont in check. He gave up three hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five shutout innings.
Hayden Parrott was the hitting star. He went two for four with a triple, two RBIs and three runs. Keith Stein went two for five with a homerun and two RBIs.
Lakeland couldn’t get much done at the plate as they lost to the Reds 8-2. Shawn Roof had the big hit with a two run single but that was the extent of the scoring in this one.
The pen struggled but Ramon Garcia was good enough in his start, he just didn’t get the support. He gave up three runs (two earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
Lakeland took care of the Reds 5-2 behind a nice outing by Jonah Nickerson. He improved to 6-3 and he gave up just four hits and a walk with six strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Brennan Boesch had a single, a triple and two RBIs in the win. Gary Sheffield went one for two with a homerun, two walks and two runs.
Fernando Seguignol had a huge day at the plate as the Hens edged the Chiefs 5-4. He went two for two with two walks, a homerun, two runs and two RBIs. Jackson Melian went two for four with two RBIs and a run.
Anastacio Martinez improved to 1-1 with a good enough start. He gave up three runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts in five innings of work. Blaine Neal pitched a shutout ninth and he picked up save number 20.
As I write this, I am relaxing due to the fact that I am not participating in this week’s All-Star festivities. Yes, I know it’s a shame and a travesty, but I’m not complaining about the non-selection. Anyway, this past weekend I got to experience my first professional post-game celebration after we clinched a post-season playoff spot. What made this so much more enjoyable was how we came to that point. After taking three of four from first place Lansing and then the first two from second place Fort Wayne, we were able to take some pressure off ourselves and not worry about having to win the last game of the first half. So what should we expect from the Whitecaps in the second half? A letdown or another top slot? I would suggest the latter because of the fact that we have a very solid group of players and a coaching staff who expects nothing less than what we are capable of, which is winning. Is this a guarantee? No, I’m no Rasheed Wallace. Plus, a guarantee in the Midwest League would sound as professional as a Ryan Leaf post-game press conference. But, we are still going to make another run at winning the division and getting that champagne shower in the clubhouse after the game.
Cale Iorg singled home Pedro Cotto in the top of the eleventh inning as the Flying Tigers took care of the Reds 3-2. Brennan Boesch had a nice day at the plate and he went four for six with a run while Ryan Strieby went three for five with an RBI.
Duane Below threw seven solid frames to keep Lakeland in the game. Jay Sborz threw three perfect innings and he improved to 1-0.
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