Results tagged ‘ Brandon Loy ’

Season end in West Michigan

The West Michigan Whitecaps ended their season this week. Despite missing out on the playoffs and losing the final game of the season 7-3 to the Dayton Dragons, they did end up with a winning record, and a lot of high points. They did end up in third place in the Midwest League‘s Eastern Division, and were the fifth best team overall this season. Their final record was 72-68, going 36-34 in both halves of the season.

The Whitecaps meet their fans at the gate in the final game of the 2012 season!

“We came up a bit short, but if you look at the big picture, we had a very successful year,” second baseman Brandon Loy told the Grand Rapids Press. “We didn’t make the playoffs, it goes by halves, but if you look at the full year perspective, I think we had one of the better teams. We have some mixed emotions because we wanted to be in the playoffs, but it was a fun year for us and we had great guys on this team.”

Before their last game, the Whitecaps players greeted their fans as they entered the stadium, thanking them for their support and taking the time to come watch them play. This is a pretty classy move, and find it a great way to continue the great fan support that they get. After the game, the crowd gave the team and standing ovation, as they once again gave thanks. The praise is well deserved for both fans and players. This team played hard, but was struck with injuries and promotions that prevented the team from a real hot streak. That’s baseball, however, especially in the minors. The Whitecaps had 74 roster moves and placed a player on the disabled list 14 times, 11 of those since June. A total of 357 games were missed by players on the DL. Manager Ernie Young is proud of his team and their competitiveness, despite all of the setbacks.

“We dealt with a lot of injuries early, and we had a lot of injuries late, but we still were able to compete,” Young told the Grand Rapids Press. “Although short-handed, we were competitive and we gave ourselves an opportunity to be successful, which for me was a success. We have the fifth-best record in the Midwest League and third best in our division and we didn’t make the playoffs. They system’s not fair but it’s in place for a reason. The changes we made we were able to compete, but we just weren’t able to get on a big enough roll to separate ourselves from the middle of the pack.”

Young was also asked what grade he’d give the season and he stated a ‘B’. He was impressed with the pitching staff who had the second-best ERA  in the MWL at 3.45. Four West Michigan starters made 23 or more starts, and Tommy Collier’s 2.74 was fourth overall in the league. On another positive note, Marcelo Carreno was named the MWL Pitcher of the Week for his two performances against the Dragons. The last outing he only allowed four hits and struck out 13 batters. Relief pitcher Jade Todd was also named the Detroit Tigers Minor League Pitcher of the Month, along with Adam Wilk. Todd struck out 21 hitters in 15 2/3 innings in August, earning two wins and a save for the Whitecaps. Well, there’s always next year, and for me April can’t come soon enough.

Photos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps/Grand Rapids Press/MLive.com/Sally Finneran

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The End is Near

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Dayton Dragons

Brian and I with Whitecaps mascot Crash the River Rascal!

Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: I’m not talking about the doomsday prophecy, but last weekend was the second-to-last game for the Whitecaps, and most likely our very last game of the 2012 season. It’s always bitter-sweet to see a season come to an end, but we have a lot of great memories to look back on. This was another memorable game for the kids and I, as we were able to get onto the field again and see some of the players and coaches. Brian really wanted to see Crash the river rascal one last time, so that was our priority! We didn’t have much of a chance after that for playing catch or getting many other pics with the players, but I did get one with the kids in front of the dugout. Brian was able to play on the playground and jump around on the ‘bouncy house’, which burns up some of his energy (Lily and Trevor are too big for the playground…where does the time go???). The kids Papa and Nana were able to join us, too, so it was a great day spent with family at the ballpark. I’m really going to miss the sunshine and the green grass, as fall, and soon winter, will be blasting us with the reality that we live up north. I was really glad we were able to make this trip, though, with school starting and two birthdays within ten days of each other, this was definitely a ‘no frills’ trip. Don’t worry…I still fed them and even got them their ice cream!

The game itself was a fun one, as the ‘Caps built and early 5-run lead on the Dragons. That was no easy task, either, considering that Robert Stephenson was on the mound for Dayton, who was the Cincinnati Reds first round draft pick last year and the organizations top pitching prospect. For West Michigan, Zach Maggard hit a two-run double in the second inning, to put the ‘Caps up 3-0. In the third inning, Jason King and Patrick Leyland each had RBI singles to put them up 5-0. Eugenio Suarez gave West Michigan some insurance, with an RBI triple in the sixth inning. The Dragons came back to score a few runs off starter Jeff Ferrell, but he held on for the win. Ferrell is now 4-1 in his last six games. Michael Torrealba pitched a scoreless ninth inning to earn the save. In all, the Whitecaps ended up with 15 hits in the game, with five doubles and one triple. It’s good to see them playing hard, even though they won’t be making the playoffs. I still can’t believe that it will be another six months at least until another baseball game. This was an end to and extremely busy week for us, that saw Trevor turning 10, his first football game, and a couple of trips to the county fair. The kids last hurrah before school starting up. Final: Whitecaps 6, Dragons 4.

Lily and Brian had to switch roles for this one, as Brian wasn’t tall enough to be ‘the boy’

Photos property of  Minoring In Baseball

Whitecaps roll over Great Lakes

Fifth -Third Ballpark-Compstock Park, MI: In another chapter in the in-state rivalry of the West Michigan Whitecaps and the Great Lakes Loons, the ‘Caps were able to stay hot and take the home series three games to four. Game one was showcased by West Michigan pitcher Jeff Ferrell, who stayed as hot as the August sun this month. He threw 6 2/3 innings, giving up only two hits and striking out four, and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Ferrell is 3-0 this month with a 0.74 ERA in his last four starts, as has already been named Midwest League Pitcher of the Week for his efforts earlier this month.

“I’m just trying to keep the ball down and mix up my pitches the best I can.” Ferrell told the Grand Rapids Press. “All of my pitches have been working for me this month, and that has been a big part of my success right there.”

He got some run support early, on a solo home run by Lance Durham. Jeff McVaney would hit a three-run shot in the sixth innings, propelling the ‘Caps to a 4-1 win. Brandon Loy had two hits in the game for West Michigan also. Will Clinard preserved the win in relief, striking out two batters with the bases loaded to earn the save.

In game two of the series, the Whitecaps were down 5-0 early, but battled back to within one, 5-4, before the rain hit. The hour and a half rain delay seemed to wash away all of the ‘Caps momentum, and the over-worked bullpen got hit hard when play resumed. In the 13-4 loss, West Michigan gave up a season high runs, hits (19), and four relief pitchers combined to allow nine runs and 14 hits in six innings. Starter Wilsen Palacios took the mound for his first start in ten days, but couldn’t make it out of the third innings. The ‘Caps were only able to connect for six hits, with Jason Krizan going 2-3. Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run double in the fifth inning, and Jason King hit one over the wall in the fourth.

Game three of the series saw the Whitecaps only get five hits, but they made the most of them, scoring all of their runs with two outs in a 5-2 comeback win over the Loons.

“That was key,” ‘Caps manger Ernie Young told the Grand Rapids Press. “Any time you can score with two outs, it is going to benefit your ball club. I would like to get some one-out runs, but today was outstanding. Even though we got behind early, I thought we did a good job of making their pitcher throw some pitches that inning and we were able to capitalize. It is always good for your confidence when you can come back and win a ball game after losing the day before.”

Down 2-0, the ‘Caps started their comeback in the third inning on a single by Aaron Westlake, an RBI double by McVaney, and two-run single by King. In the fourth inning, Westlake struck again with a RBI single to make it 5-2. On the hill, starter Tommy Collier tossed three innings giving up the two runs. Relief pitchers Brennan Smith and Jade Todd kept Great Lakes off the scorecard the rest of the game.

The series finale was the most dramatic game of them all, believe it or not. The game went back-and-forth with neither team being able to pull away. Things looked good for the ‘Caps in the seventh inning, when Westlake tied the game on a deep home run. The Loons answered, though, when Tyler Ogle hit his first home run of the season to help his team re-take the lead. Westlake was 2 for 4 in the game with two RBI’s, but his ninth inning walk would prove crucial. Set the stage for Jeff McVaney, who’s two run blast sent the Whitecaps and their fans into a frenzy, giving them the 6-5 walk-off win.

“I don’t think there is a better way you can win a ball game than a walk-off home run,” McVaney told the Grand Rapids Press. “I knew the situation, and I knew we had to get that run in. I thought about driving the ball to center field, and I definitely had home run in the back of my mind. I was trying to swing extra hard. Both teams came up with clutch hits and clutch pitches. It was good for our team, especially when we are trying to win every game to get into the playoffs. It was definitely a good moral boost to have a win like that.”

McVaney ended the game going 3-5 with two singles and the homer. On the mound, starter Kyle Ryan had his best recent outing. He gave up only one run on three hits in his five innings pitched. Will Clinard would earn the win, despite giving up the go-ahead run in the ninth. The Whitecaps now lead the season series with the Loons 12 games to 7. This season’s end is rapidly approaching, and we’re hoping to make one more game before it ends!

Photos courtesy of Sally Finneran/Grand Rapids Press/MLive.com

The Name Game

Roberto Hernandez made his first start this season in a rehab stint vs. the Whitecaps

Eastlake, OH: The West Michigan Whitecaps had a successful trip to Ohio, taking two of three games from the Lake County Captains. Their only loss of the series was an interesting one, though, as they faced former Major League pitcher Fausto Carmona, er, I mean, Roberto Hernandez. Wait…what? Hernandez is serving a three-week suspention from MLB, and made a rehab start for the Captains in game two of the series with West Michigan. The picher formerly known a Carmona was arrested in January for identity theft in the Dominican Rebublic for assuming the name of a family friend. The Cleveland Indians thought they were signing a 17 yr-old back in 2000, but in reality, Hernandez was 20. Three years later he was pitching for the Captains, going 17-4 with a 2.06 ERA in 2003. Six years later, he had to wait for a new visa to come into the United States. How he was granted a new visa with a fraud conviction, I’ll never know, but money talks I guess, and Major League Baseball slapped him with a whopping three-week suspension. Back on track- he did earn his first professional victory since Sept. 20, 2011 against the ‘Caps, as they were downed 5-4 by Lake County. Hernandez gave up three runs on six hits. West Michigan didn’t show the 31 yr-old much respect out of the gate, though, as they scored two runs in the first inning on an Aaron Westlake home run. Eugelio Suarez singled before him. In the fourth inning, Jason King doubled, and scored on an RBI by Patrick Leyland. In the end, two errors costs the ‘Caps the winning run and the game. Carmona Hernandez is eligible to join the Indians on August 11.

The Whitecaps dominated the first game of the series 8-1. On the hill for the ‘Caps, Chad Smith was successful in his first start in the Midwest League. In three innings he allowed one hit and struck out three. Along with the bullpen, he held the Captains to only four hits on the night. This was only Smith’s fifth pro start after Tommy John surgery last year. West Michigan was led offensively by Jason King, who ended the game going 3-5 with a home run and three RBI’s. The ‘Caps scored six runs in the seventh inning to break the game wide open. King and Brandon Loy each drove in two runs in the inning. Loy was 2-4 in the game with a pair of doubles. Jason Krizan also doubled in a pair of runs in the inning. The Whitecaps received more solid pitching in a 4-0 victory in the last game of the series. Marcelo Carreno threw six shutout innings and only allowed one hit. Loy helped out with his bat, scoring two with a single in the second. Jeff McVaney would drive him home for a 3-0 lead. In the eighth, McVaney tripled and was hit home on a single by King. Leyland and Krizan each singled to load the bases with no outs when the game was called due to lightning.

Photos courtesy of Maribeth Joeright/The News-Herald

Whitecaps win with walk-off!!!

Jason Krizan celebrates with with teammates Ramon Labron and Brandon Loy after driving in the winning run!

Going 20 innings without scoring a run, the West Michigan Whitecaps were due. Facing the best team in the West Division the Burlington Bees, the ‘Caps won last nights’ game 3-2 with a walk-off bloop single by outfielder Jason Krizan in the bottom of the ninth. Manager Ernie Young had the ‘Caps playing ‘small ball’ that inning, with Eugenio Suarez getting hit by a pitch (and would score the winning run), a bunt by clean-up hitter Aaron Westlake, and a sacrifice by Jeff McVaney.

“We didn’t know much (about Bees pitcher Macias) other than he threw a two seamer,” Krizan told MLive.com. “So, it was late in the game, I had a feeling he was going to throw it away the entire at, and the first pitch was there.”

West Michigan started its comeback in the eighth inning, scoring three runs to tie the game. Pat Leyland and Lance Durham earned the RBI’s. The team was also helped by relief pitcher Ramon Lebron, who pitched three scoreless innings to earn the win. As stated in yesterday’s post, winning these close games is so important, and the Whitecaps are now 16-14 (52-48 overall). This was a great game to finish the current home stand, too. The team has today off to travel to Eastlake, Ohio for a series with the Lake County Captains.

Photos courtesy of Cory Morse/MLive.com

Whitecaps finally sink Loons

After two frustrating one-run losses to the Great Lakes Loons (2-1 and 4-3), the West Michigan Whitecaps finally upended their in-state rivals 5-2 on Thursday night. Already in a 2-0 hole in the first inning, they came back in the third. After a triple by Jeff Holm, Chad Wright drew a walk followed by and Eugenio Suarez double to score Holm. Wright scored on a sac-fly by Dean Green. Suarez on leads the Whitecaps in RBI’s with 19, with Green following with 17. West Michigan took the lead in the eight inning off a clutch hit by Jason King. His single drove in the winning run, and stopped his brutal slump.

“You never want to go 0-20, but everyone is here for a reason.” King told the Grand Rapids Press. “You make adjustments until something good happens. It’s just part of being a baseball player.”

Brandon Loy also contributed with a triple that drove in two runs, to help the ‘Caps win a rare close game. They have a 6-10 record in one-run games so far.

“We’ve been in a lot of one-run games,” Loy told the Press. “It’s big to get a win like this. Hopefully it’ll get us on a roll. When a team gets hot, it’s usually a game like this that starts it. It definitely gives us momentum.”

On the hill, West Michigan starter Brennan Smith had a solid night. He gave up only three hits and retired 19 of 20 batters from the last two outs in the first inning to the sixth inning.

“I had a rough start in the first inning, but I kind of settled down and threw my off-speed pitches for strikes,” stated Smith. “We’re used to playing a lot of close games, but no one is getting down. We keep battling.”

I hope this win get the ‘Caps on a solid winning streak, and they get above .500 and battle for the title. We’ll be down next weekend to see them play, so I’m hoping they can give us plenty to cheer about.

The whole Peanuts gang was surprised that Pig Pen was the only member of Charlie Browns’ team to make it to the pros…

Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press

Whitecaps split with Lansing

The West Michigan Whitecaps evened their record to 16-16 with the split of a four game series against the Lugnuts in Lansing. The Lugnuts, who are currently the best team in the Midwest League, won the first two games of the series by the scores of 2-0 and 4-3. The Whitecaps fought back to win the next two contests. On Monday, the two teams were tied 1-1 from the second inning on, until West Michigan rallied for four runs in the eight inning. Brandon Loy and Eugenio Suarez each singled, and Dean Green reached first on a bobbled bunt to load the bases. They scored one run on a fielder’s choice, and Suarez then scored on a wild pitch. Curt Casali hit a single that scored two runs, to give West Michigan the 5-1 victory. The winning pitcher was Wilsen Palacios, who improved his record to 2-2. He struck out five batters and did not issue a base on balls.

Tuesday’s morning game was an offensive battle, as the Whitecaps knocked a season high 15 hits, on their way to the 7-6 win. Patrick Leyland went 3-5, and hit a single in the ninth inning to put the Whitecaps in the lead. Casali also had three hits, while Suarez went 2-4 with three RBI’s. Green hit an RBI single in the seventh inning, tying the game at 5. On the mound, Michael Torrealba was the winner, retiring two batters in the ninth. Dan Bennett struggled, but was able to earn the save for West Michigan. The team returns home for a series with their other in-state rival, the Great Lakes Loons.

Photos courtesy of the Lansing State Journal

Whitecaps go .500 in Iowa

The West Michigan Whitecaps ended their quick six game swing of eastern Iowa going 3-3, winning the series against the Quad Cities River Bandits and dropping two games to the Cedar Rapids Kernels. The road trip started out rough for the ‘Caps, losing 5-1 to the River Bandits and mustering very little offense. The bounced back to take game two, though, by the score of 2-1 thanks to a suicide squeeze pulled off by Brandon Loy. Loy layed a nice bunt between the pitcher and first, while Chad Wright, who singled to get on base, beat the throw to the plate. Warwick Saupold earned his very first professional victory coming out of the bullpen. The Whitecaps would also win the rubber match, in a wild game where they and Quad Cities combined for 17 walks, six wild pitches, and four errors. Jason Krizan led the offense going 3-3, while catcher Curt Casali had two RBI’s. Starter Tommy Coulier earned the win, despite his bullpen giving up four consecutive walks in the 9th to make it a close one, before retiring the Bandits for good.

The first game between the Whitecaps and the Kernels was rained out, but they made it up the next day, having a double-header on the last day of April. Another rough opener to a series, as the Kernels won the game with a walk-off home run in the 9th. Kyle Ryan pitched a complete game, but suffered the loss, while Casali homered for West Michigan. The ‘Caps would win game two, however, on the back of Patrick Leyland’s 3-run dinger, and Eugenio Suarezs’ 3-5 performance, including a double and RBI. Nick Avila earned the victory, despite giving up three hits and two home runs of his own. In the rubber match to welcome the month of May, the Whitecaps basically had their a$$#$ handed to them. Brandon Loy got the only hit of the day, a double, for WM. ‘One hit…that’s all we got? One G*% D@*^ hit? Don’t worry…no one’s reading….’

Photos courtesy of The Gazette (Cedar Rapids)

A streaky season so far

After being swept at home by the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, the West Michigan Whitecaps came back with two impressive wins over the Beloit Snappers, but were unable to complete the sweep. The ‘Caps suffered their worse loss of the season, by the score of 8-0. They had their chances, but have not been very good at the plate with runners in scoring position. With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, they came away with no runs due to a called third strike. Dean Green and Patrick Leyland each had two hits in the game, though. The team has been getting hits, but not the ones that count…the ones that drive in the runs and win games. During the current home stand, the Whitecaps had eight to ten hits in each game, but they left approximately nine runners on base in four of those. With runners in scoring position, the team was 11 for 59. Ouch.

The Whitecaps are now 9-10, not horrible, but it’s been a season of streaks so far. Already in 2012, they’ve had two three-game winning streaks and one three-game losing streak. If they could have pulled out a victory yesterday, it would have made for three consecutive sweeps in the last three series, with the ‘Caps sweeping Lake County, being swept by Wisconsin, and taking the first two from Beloit. Manager Ernie Young still have confidence in his young team, though.

“We had opportunities…sometimes you just have to find a way to get that big hit,” Young told the Grand Rapids Press. “The timely hits will come. The guys just have to get up there and see it happen and it will. Two wins in six game? Yeah. Tough. It would have been nice to go ahead and get that last one a salvage a home stand with a split, but we’re going to be fine. We have a lot of games left. No time to panic. There’s no panic from me and none on staff members.”

The Whitecaps are getting some good production from guys like Steven Moya (.400 average), Green (.268, 5 home runs), and Brandon Loy (.300), but are getting little help from the lead-off position, as well as the bottom part of the line-up. Today is their first day off since April 8, and then it’s off to Quad Cities for a seven game road trip.

Photos courtesy of the Grand Rapids Press

Rookie bat heating up for Whitecaps

Brandon Loy gets a hit during his streak last week against the Bowling Green Hot Rods.

As for the readers who’ve read some of my other posts, I’ve stated that I’m a former second baseman when I played the wonderful game of baseball. As such, I really follow that position when I watch live games. As a fan of the West Michigan Whitecaps, I also follow that position, and the personnel assigned there, with great interest. From Will Rhymes, Scott Sizemore, Justin Henry, to Brandon Douglas, I’ve done my best to keep track of them all as they make their way through the system, even after a trade or two. This season, second base has mostly been occupied by first year player Brandon Loy. Loy has played a little short-stop as well, but defense wasn’t much of an issue with him early on, as much as his hitting. Getting off to a rough start in professional baseball, he went 0-10 with four strike-outs to start the season. With some hard work, Loy has been hitting well recently, though, and is on a 13-game hitting streak. He has six multi-hit games, is now batting .390, and has four steals.

“For me it was just a matter of getting started and getting accustomed to this atmosphere,” Loy told MLive.com. “When you strike out a few times, you tend to start swinging at bad pitches. So I just told myself to relax and I’m just seeing the ball much better now.”

He’s also getting help from outfielder Steven Moya, who’s on a 12-game hitting streak of his own, and now leading all ‘A’ ball players with a .436 batting average. Batting in front of Moya is giving Loy some decent pitches to hit.

“That helps out a lot because I’m seeing a few extra fastballs because he’s (Moya) hitting the ball so well,” Loy stated.

Brandon was a fifth round draft pick of the Tigers last June. It will be fun to watch him play this season, and move up through the Tigers system. Detroit doesn’t really have a number one at that position, so maybe in a few years he can fill that role.

Photo property of M.I.B.

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