Results tagged ‘ Dayton Dragons ’
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.
“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.
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.
For the second time this season, the West Michigan Whitecaps came up just short of securing a spot in the 2012 Midwest League playoffs. Also, for the first time in franchise history, the ‘Caps will be missing the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Despite winning nine of their last 13 games, West Michigan was eliminated from the playoff race with a loss to Fort Wayne Friday night. The teams went 15-5 down the stretch in the first half of the season, but were unable to catch Bowling Green for that spot. Maybe they needed a miracle, or…maybe they needed starting pitcher Marcelo Carreno…
Just one day after being eliminated, Carreno and the Whitecaps came home to Fifth-Third Ballpark and took everything out on the Dayton Dragons. Carreno recorded 13 strikeouts in the 7-1 victory, carving up the Dragons with his nasty curveball. He threw six scoreless innings and finished with game with 66 strikes on 89 pitches. Carreno’s 13 strikeouts were a career high, and the most by a starting pitcher this season.
“My curveball was amazing tonight”, he told the Grand Rapids Press. “Their hitters couldn’t hit my curveball so just used it a lot. Every time I got two strikes on a hitter, I went to the curveball and it was a strikeout. My fastball and change-up was good, too, and I could close my eyes tonight and throw the ball for a strike. We didn’t make the playoffs, and we feel bad about that, but we keep playing hard. We are a winning team.”
Offensively, the ‘Caps scored six runs in the second inning to help secure the win. Eugenio Suarez had an RBI single and Jason King hit a two-out single to make it 6-0. In the fifth inning, Colin Kaline added an RBI single to score King, who had a double to lead off the inning. Kaline, King, and Suarez each had two hits in the game. Unfortunately, it was a little too late for the ‘Caps, but they will still end the season with a winning record. We went to their second-to-last game yesterday, and I’ll post pics of that game soon.
There was some optimism for this 2012 West Michigan team. And, in reality, there still is. With a solid number of prospects on the roster, as well as some familiar names for Tigers fans, this years rendition of the Whitecaps looks to have a winning look to it. Even infielder Colin Kaline feels confident about his team this season.
“I don’t see many weaknesses on this team,” Kaline told Steve Kaminski of MLive.com. “These are great guys, great team guys and great ball players. I think the team has some pretty high expectations for moving on this summer. We have a lot of guys who have been around a bit, with a mixture of young talent. It’s going to be really special to be a part of this team this summer.”
The Whitecaps hit a speed bump on Opening Day, however, in the form of Dayton Dragons pitcher Justice French, who was named the Cincinnati Reds‘ Minor League Pitcher of the Year last season. French struck out eight hitters and only allowed two of the Whitecaps four hits to earn the 3-0 victory. In all, the ‘Caps struck out eleven times and were 0-5 with runners in scoring position. Aaron Westlake, Dan Green, Eugenio Suarez and Steven Moya collected hits for West Michigan, while Kaline went 0-3. Starting pitcher Josue Carreno took the loss for the ‘Caps, who are now 11-8 all time on opening day.
During the off-season, they are busy at work in West Michigan, getting the new scoreboard and video board ready for game play. Things seem to be coming along nicely, and I can’t wait to get to our first game of the season and check all the changes out. I think I’m really going to like the new manual scoreboard, as it brings baseball tradition to the modern ballpark. The new state of the art video board will satisfy the fans of the modern age, too. With the way things look, everything should be up and running by April.
The only change I wish would be made is the ballpark’s name. The stadium’s name was originally Old Kent Park in 1994, but was changed to Fifth Third Ballpark in 2001 after the merger of Old Kent and Fifth Third banks. The name generally wouldn’t bother me so much, if it wasn’t for the fact that Fifth Third bank has been digging it’s claws into so many Minor League stadiums here in the midwest. Just south in Toledo, the MudHens(International League) play at Fifth Third Field, and in their same state of Ohio, the Dayton Dragons(Midwest League) also play in a Fifth Third Field. Confused yet? To make things more confusing, this season the Kane County Cougars changed the name of their stadium to…you guessed it….Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. So, here’s the break down: West Michigan=Fifth Third Ballpark; Toledo=Fifth Third Field; Dayton=Fifth Third Field; Kane County=Fifth Third Bank Ballpark. Where is the originality that we love about the Minors? I’m not niave…I know money talks and make these teams possible, but I’d rather have a stadium named after a local ballplayer, coach, or even a local business or benefactor than another large bank. Then again, I’ll take Tiger Stadium over Comerica Park, too. I would love to see the Whitecaps play in, say a Mickey Stanley Stadium, named after the Tigers legend who’s from Grand Rapids. Anyway, this blog is just more of a rant than anything else. Enjoy the pics, and I’ll have some of my own in April.
Gearing up for the 2010 season ahead, it’s fun to remember all of the fun times the kids and I have had the last few years since baseball has been such a big part of our lives. I was looking for some older pics to post, but didn’t have any luck finding much. I do have plenty others to share, though, so here’s to hoping this season’s games will be as fun as the ballgames past.
Photos property of MIB
Monday night the Detroit Tigers will honor the 1984 World Championship team in a pre-game ceromony. All the greats will be on hand including HOF manager Sparky Anderson, MVP Allan Trammell, Lance Parrish, Kirk Gibson, Willie Hernandez and more. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the Tigers won it all. Detroit had the best record in baseball that season with 104 wins on their way to the World Series. This is one of my favorite memories about being a baseball fan as a kid.
Luckily, I’ve had a chance to meet some of my childhood heroes through my Minor League baseball trips. A lot of these guys like to give back to baseball and coach in the Minors. It’s great seeing them instruct a whole new generation of players. So far off the the 1984 team I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Tom Brookens (West Michigan Whitecaps), Lance Parrish (Great Lakes Loons), Doug Bair (Dayton Dragons), and Barbaro Garbey (Peoria Cheifs). We also had a chance to meet John Wockenfuss this season, who was traded in 1984 in a deal to the Phillies to bring Willie Hernandez and Dave Bergman to Detroit. We got to meet pitcher Jack Morris, too, but he wasn’t coaching, just signing at a store opening in northern Michigan. Still, he has the most wins of any pitcher in the 80’s, so it was great meeting him. I can’t wait until next years trip to see who we can meet along the way.
Tom Brookens of the Whitecaps signs for the kids in 2007
Lance Parrish of the Loons signs some cards for the kids in 2007
Photos property of MIB