Detroit Tigers Minor League Baseball Commentary and Analysis
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Alfredo Figaro had one of the best starts of the season for the White Caps and he improved to an impressive 4-0 on the season. He gave up just three hits with eleven strikeouts in the shutout win and his ERA is now down to a microscopic 0.46. Opponents are hitting just .159 against him and if he continues at this pace, it’s not going to make a lot of sense keeping him down while he dominates Low-A hitting.
Roger Tomas had a pair of singles and a run in the 4-0 win. Mark McBratney singled, tripled and scored a run.
Anyone who has ever gone to any minor league baseball game knows that there are endless festivities going on between innings. These games are usually created and thought up by the marketing staff to further entice the fans’ interest in the game. Before I go on, I have to give our staff credit for what they do; They provide additional entertainment (which is needed in some of our games) and also these present prime advertising opportunities. Plus our games are done pretty well and are even entertaining for the players. However, some of these things I have seen in the past couple of years gets a little out of hand. I am a fan of the traditional Milwaukee Brewers sausage race and any kind of video board animation, but when some of these gimmicks take four to five minutes to finish, it gets a little hard to focus on warming up. When you are worried about hitting a giant running corn stalk behind the catcher, or a kid who is lost trying to cross home plate, it does make you utter a few words to yourself. With that said, I have to tip my hat to a participant in today’s dizzy bat race. Now our staff does this event right: They pick two older folks, usually who are a little dizzy to begin with, and let them spin, and spin, and then spin some more. Rarely do either participants stay on their feet and it brings plenty of laughs and entertainment to us relievers in the bullpen. Today was no exception, and as I was throwing my warm up pitches, I caught a glance as the man was beginning to tumble towards what looked like the line of my throw. So I stopped and stared as he fell, hard, right on the baseline, on his face. I waited to see if he was okay and when he got up his face was covered in blood. I will have to say that was the first dizzy bat injury I have ever seen and hope the guy is okay. But whoever you are dizzy bat face plant man, I tip my hat because you provided us with one of the most memorable moments of 2008.
Lauren Gagnier had an exceptional start and he improved to 1-2 in the White Caps 6-1 win over Wisconsin. He gave up three hits and two walks with eleven strikeouts in six shutout inning.
Kyle Peter went three for five with a double and three runs. Joseph Tucker went four for five with a run and an RBI.
One of the great parts of playing minor league baseball is all the different places you get to see and people you get to meet. Unfortunately one of the more difficult parts of this profession is having to be away from home all the time. For me this isn’t as hard as some of the other guys because of the close proximity to home when I am there. Nevertheless, going to different cities and never really getting a chance to settle into one place takes a little getting used to. At least when you are home you have a place of your own and can have family, friends, or girlfriends/ wives come visit. These visits and time with familiar faces can do a lot for boosting confidence as well as morale. Sometimes, with all the travel and things to do outside of baseball, you can get caught up where you are and forget where you’ve been. When Todd Jones made an appearance with the minor league teams during spring training, he did everything the way we do, from the stretch to the way we wear our uniforms. When asked why he did that, he replied, “When you forget where you came from, it makes it that much harder to go back.” So when we get a chance to spend some quality time with the people who know us best and care about us the most, it helps keep you humble. And on another note, it’s always good when we get a visit from mother nature and her warm weather. Baseball is a summer sport and when 40 degrees is the high, sometimes life on the road gets cold really fast.
The Wisconsin Rattlers scored four of their seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings as the White Caps lost 7-5. The bulk of the late inning damage came against Paul Nardozzi, who gave up the final three runs (just one earned) that the Rattlers scored. You hope Nardozzi’s tough outing wasn’t because he couldn’t sleep with the scent of car freshener in the air of his room.
Jordan Netwon drove in three and he was a homerun short of the cycle. Justin Henry went two for five with a double, a homerun and two runs.
Alfredo Figaro didn’t get the win, but he threw six quality innings as the White Caps edged Wisconsin 4-3. Figaro gave up one unearned run on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts. He’s now struck out 29 batters in 30 innings over 5 starts and his ERA is a microscopic 0.60.
Kody Kaiser singled home Justin Henry in the top of the eighth inning for the game winner. Kaiser finished the game three for four while Henry had a single, a double and two runs.
One of the main qualities of a good team is there ability to come together and bond as a team. So far we have not had much time outside of the confines of the respective stadiums to really spend some quality time together. So one of the ways in which we improve our friendships and team camaraderie is through good old-fashioned practical jokes. A college teammate of mine said you only make fun of the people you like. Well if that is the case, I guess you could say Paul Nardozzi is the captain of the team. A still, anonymous individual pulled of the first well-executed prank of the season. As Paul put his bags on the bus for Cedar Rapids, Iowa, little did he know there would be a surprise awaiting him when he unpacked. Eight pine scented car fresheners were placed ever so carefully in his travel bag, and not to mention it was about a 7-hour bus ride. Just one of those things is enough to do some damage, but this was enough to make an entire house smell like Christmas. Now I, being Paul’s roommate was also affected because not even a pack of lit matches could cover the smell in the room. Now Paul is doing fine, he was a little agitated to say the least but is already planning his revenge. So I am assuming that this session of team bonding will not be ending anytime soon.
Ramon Garcia improved to 3-2 on the season with a nice start in the White Caps 9-2 win over Cedar Rapids. He gave up one run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in seven innings.
Mark McBratney went two for five with a triple, an RBI and two runs. Kody Kaiser singled, drew two walks, two runs and an RBI.
Well we finally proved that we could win without Curtis Granderson, and following with the trend of the week ended the game the only way we know how. It really is amazing what winning will do for a team, from improving attitudes, breaking slumps and building momentum. Going into a week long road trip we have built up some much needed confidence. I have heard from almost every coach my whole life that good teams are able to win close games. I guess if this prophecy holds true, we are in pretty good shape. Obviously we would like to win some games like a normal team, so that there isn’t constant pressure on the bullpen. This isn’t to say that the relievers are not up to the task, but with a long season you don’t want to get burnt out and so, any rest is good rest. It was good to have Kyle Peter our center fielder, back in the lineup after Granderson’s departure. He didn’t disappoint either by coming though with the game winning hit. On a more personal note, I got to try my hand at extra inning pressure pitching. Once I snapped out of the little zone I was in and realized where I was (any pitcher knows what that’s like) it wasn’t all that bad. Now we are looking to keep the recently gained momentum rolling into this new road trip and whenever you go away from home winning doesn’t come easy so look for some more late action games out of the ‘Cardiac Caps.’
The White Caps took care of Beloit but they needed thirteen innings to do it. Kyle Peter singled home Audy Ciriaco for the game winner and it capped off a four for six game for Peters. He finished the game with two RBIs and a run.
Rudy Darrow picked up the win with a shutout inning and he improved to 3-0. Andrew Hess kept the White Caps in it with three shutout frames in extra innings. He gave up two hits and a walk with two strikeouts.
Alfredo Figaro improved to 3-0 on the season with a nice start in the White Caps 5-3 win over Beloit. He gave up just two runs on six hits and one walk with two strikeouts in six innings of work. Noah Krol threw a perfect ninth and he picked up his third save of the season.
Ron Bourquin singled twice, drew a walk and scored two runs. Casper Wells was a perfect three for three with a pair of RBIs.
There are many things that we as ballplayers try to make happen aside from bettering our own careers. One of these things is keeping fans coming to the games and make the games worth watching. Now part of that is the responsibility of the marketing staff, but there are things that the players do which do matter in getting a good turnout night in and night out. At the forefront of this list would have to be winning, which we have been doing the last few games. Secondly, to keep fans in their seats throughout the game is winning close games, also a recent trend (it makes leaving the stadium a little harder but I’ll take it). And last but not least, have some high profile talent for people to root for. Now we all strive to be high profile but there are just a few who seem to have this phenomenon follow them. Curtis Granderson is one of those players, and I couldn’t have enough good things to say about him for the two days he spent with our team. Not only did he bring in thousands of people to watch the rest of us, but he made sure to impart some of his wisdom about playing at the next level with us. It is hard to stay humble when your bank account can already say so much but I have to say that Curtis played the game no different and took the field to win just like everyone else. Hopefully the next big leaguer to come through West Michigan does it with as much class and fun as Curtis did this past weekend.
Ramon Garcia improved to 2-2 on the season with a very nice start in the Caps 2-1 win over Beloit. He gave up one run on six hits with four strikeouts in eight innings.
Roger Tomas was the hitting star in the win. He went three for three with a run.
Roger Tomas drove home Casper Wells in the bottom of the eleventh inning with a sac. fly to win it for the White Caps 6-5. Tomas finished the game with a pair of RBIs while Justin Henry tripled and drove in two runs.
Jonathan Kibler threw seven solid innings and while he didn’t get the win, he did keep the White Caps in the win. He gave up two runs on six hits with five strikeouts. Paul Nardozzi improved to 2-0 with a shutout inning in the eleventh.
It seemed fitting that Curtis Granderson would get a triple in his first game but what didn’t fit was that he did it in Grand Rapids. Still, Granderson had two of the White Caps four hits including that triple, which was West Michigan’s lone extra base hit in the 3-0 loss.
Emmanuel Miguelez took the loss despite a nice start. He gave up two runs on four hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in six innings. Andrew Hess gave up an unearned run in two innings and he struck out one.
After a long and for the most part, disappointing road trip (6 days, 1-5) we get to return home for some much needed rest and support. It never is that difficult playing in other team’s parks, because the fans don’t play the game, we do. However there is something to be said for playing at home, even if there are no fans in the stadium that night. Just being able to sleep in your own bed and get some decent, non-fast food does a lot for game preparation. There is also a comfort factor which comes into play as well. You hear players talk about playing in an uncomfortable environment and when you get to play at home you get to be a little more comfortable and relaxed than the other team. Those of us who have played at a high level of athletic competition know that it comes down to doing all the little things right, before and during the game, to have success. This is one of the reasons for Iowa football’s fabled “pink visitors locker room;” to make their opponent more uncomfortable. This is a long season though and we are still playing very well so no one is worried as of right now. So now we have a much needed day off today to regroup and get ready for a six game home stand. Maybe I need to put in an order for some of that pink paint along with twenty year old wooden stools for our friends who come to visit fifth third ballpark. We’ll call it research.
Six hits in eleven innings usually isn’t going to cut and despite some very solid pitching, the White Caps lost to Peoria 2-1 in eleven innings. Joseph Tucker was the hitting star. He went two for two with a walk and he drove in the lone run for West Michigan.
Santo Mieses took the loss and he fell to 1-2. He gave up just one run on two hits with a strikeout in 2 1/3 innings.
Alfredo Figaro got it done on the mound and he improved to 2-0 in the White Caps 5-1 win over Peoria. He gave up just one unearned run on four hits and four walks with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Roger Tomas belted his first homerun of the season and he drove in two runs. Jordan Newton and Joseph Tucker both had three hits and a run in the win.
This past weekend marked the first test of adversity for the Whitecaps in the early stages of 2008. It is never easy to go on the road and win especially when you have to go so far from home. Also it is never fun losing, but it hurts a little deeper when you know you played well and still lost. It’s funny how fast the game of baseball changes and how much a few inches can change the entire game. When you take time to think about what it is that separates a big leaguer from a minor leaguer, most of the time it comes down to a few inches. Whether it’s a pitcher whose ball moves 2 more inches right before it gets to the hitter, or a hitter making contact on the bat another inch up or down, the distance which holds most guys back from living out the dream of a lifetime comes down to less than a foot. I am a fan of the TV show “My Name is Earl” and if I have learned one thing from that show it is karma. If we continue to play the game how we have been, having quality at bats, playing solid defense and throwing strikes it’s hard to see us staying on a skid for any extended period of time. As for myself, I am beginning to settle into my role in the bullpen and also getting used to my first full season of professional baseball. And believe me you really do get used to living out of a suitcase.
Jonathan Kibler had a decent enough start but Wilton Garcia was roughed up and the hitters never really got it going in their 6-2 loss to Clinton. Kibler gave up two runs on six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in six innings. Wilton Garcia gave up four runs in his relief appearance. Andrew Hess had his second straight solid relief appearance with a shutout eighth inning.
Christopher Carlson went two for four and he scored a run. All seven hits by the White Caps were singles.
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