Results tagged ‘ Lance Durham ’

More heroics in West Michigan

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Lake County Captains (Midwest League)

monkey7Fifth Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: Back, again, just north of Grand Rapids for our last Whitecaps game of the season. A very bitter-sweet moment, but so much going on at this game, I’m not sure where to start. First, Brian was happy they had a ‘bounce castle’ set up in the parking lot. We didn’t have much time for him to play, but he still was able to bounce around for a little while before we made our way into the stadium. Upon entry, each of us received a free mini-bat, to commemorate the ‘Caps 20th season of play. Brian has been collecting the bats lately, so more for him. It was super hero night at the ballpark, just like in Battle Creek last month, but the only ones dressed up were the Whitecaps’ on-field staff. Still, some of them has some cool outfits. We were at the ballpark early, so we saw the Captains take some batting practice, and waited for the home team to hit the field for their warm-ups. We went down to field level, where we met former Tigers’ relief pitcher, and current ‘Caps pitching coach, Mike Henneman. He was nice enough to sign a baseball card for Brian (a future hurler, himself!). Before the game got underway, we were also entertained by team Ghostrider: basically monkeys riding around on dogs. They would appear a few time throughout the game, herding goats and riding away. When monkeys act like cowboys, everybody wins! It didn’t take the kids long to get hungry, and Lily, Brian, and their Papa stuck with traditional hot dogs. Trevor and I, however, wanted to try the Baco! We made our way through the concourse, and with a sold-out crowd we were moving slowly. We took a break, though, to check out the Whitecaps 2007 Midwest League Championship trophy that was on display. The team was also celebrating the championship during this game, too. We finally made it to the other side of the ballpark to get our Bacos. Trevor didn’t care for it too much, but I thought it was pretty good. Not worth $6 each, but had to do it. Unfortunately the Whitecaps has some of the slowest concessions ever, so we missed a good chunk of the game waiting in line. We decided to head back to our seats through the lower bowl, which was a good idea because Trevor got a foul ball that bounced our way. We were finally able to sit down and enjoy the rest of the game, which was a good one. The ‘Caps also provided post-game fireworks that the kids really love, too. It was a hectic night all around, and sold-out crowds will do that, but still hard to wrap my head around the fact it will be a minimum of nine months before I’m enjoying baseball at Fifth-Third Ballpark again!

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Former Tiger Mike Henneman signs a card for the kids

Former Tiger Mike Henneman signs a card for the kids

monkey9monkey10Like I stated, the game between the ‘Caps and the Captains was a good one. West Michigan was down 2-0 in the third, but busted out for three runs of their own in the bottom of the inning. Connor Harrell and David Gonzales started it off with a pair of singles, then Lake County started  walking some batters. The Whitecaps scored two runs on walks, then Jason King hit a sac fly for the third run. In the fourth inning, Jeff Holm hit a solo shot to put the ‘Caps up 4-2. West Michigan concluded the scoring in the eighth inning, when Lance Durham hit his team leading 14th home run, after King singled. On the hill for West Michigan, Edgar De La Rosa pitched a solid game, only giving up the two runs in six innings of work. He struck out four and didn’t walk any of the Lake County hitters. The bullpen finished the job, throwing four shutout innings, with Corey Knebel closing the door in the ninth. Holm lead the offense going 2-4, and Gonzalez went 2-3. Final Score: Whitecaps 6, Captains 2.

the Baco!

the Baco!

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Stilt-walkers were on hand, too!

Stilt-walkers were on hand, too!

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The 2007 Midwest League Trophy

The 2007 Midwest League Trophy

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Yep...more monkeys riding dogs, and herding sheep...

Yep…more monkeys riding dogs, and herding sheep…

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Getting silly with Lily!

Getting silly with Lily!

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The little guy with his souveniers.

The little guy with his souveniers.

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

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Whitecaps bash Cubs’ Baker

bakerHitting well off of a major league pitcher is every minor league baseball players dream, even if it happens to be in a rehab start. The West Michigan Whitecaps got to re-habbing Chicago Cubs pitcher Scott Baker early, while he was pitching for the Kane County Cougars. The ‘Caps nabbed Baker for four runs in the bottom of the first inning on four hits. Leading the way with a two-run triple was Jason King, followed by a two-run homer by Lance Durham. Also adding to the onslaught, was Jake Stewart, with his team-leading ninth home run of the season, and added a double to go 2-4 on the day. Jared Reaves was productive also, going 2-3 in the game. He told MLive.com on facing a pro like Baker: “It’s always good to face a big leaguer”, Reaves stated. “But we try to take the same approach. I try to treat it no different than a Single-A guy.” Also pleased is West Michigan’s hitting coach, Scott Dwyer: “A couple of weeks ago, we were struggling to score runs. Most of these guys, it’s their first year of professional baseball. They were tired. But now some of them are getting a second wind.” The win was the last of a Whitecaps four game winning streak, in which they pounded the ball, in which they beat Clinton 13-1 and 3-2, and Kane County 9-1 and 5-2.  Baker, in his defense, is coming off Tommy John surgery, and the goal of a re-hab stint really isn’t to strike out as many minor leaguers as possible, but just to gauge the arm and it’s progress. I’m proud of how the Whitecaps hit off of him, but hope Baker heals and has a successful career with the Cubs.

jakePhotos courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps

Star Wars Night-Episode IV: A Hope for no Rain

West Michigan Whitecaps vs. Bowling Green Hot Rods (Midwest League)

starwars2Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MIIt’s that time of year again, when myself and the little nerf-hearders head down to Star Wars Night. This year, we were back at the Fifth-Third Ballpark, with the Whitecaps as our host. Despite the weather report calling for rain, it all held off and it was a beautiful night. The kids were able to meet all of their favorite Star Wars characters, and some of the guys in the suits were pretty darn funny. They kept the sold out crowd entertained until the game started, and were more than happy to pose for pictures for the kids. This was one of the best Star Wars nights we’ve been too so far. We tried for some Whitecaps autographs, but got very few as the players didn’t walk by the fans due to the Star Wars guys.

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The most feared Bounty Hunters in the Galaxy...

The most feared Bounty Hunters in the Galaxy…

The Force is strong with these two!

The Force is strong with these two!

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Uh...caption this:

Uh…caption this:

starwars11starwars12starwars13As for the game itself, it was another dismal one for the Whitecaps. They’ve had a tough time offensively ever since Devon Travis was promoted. DH Lance Durham did go 2-4 on the day, however, but short stop David Gonzalez was the only one able to strum up an RBI. Chad Smith took the loss on the hill for West Michigan, giving up only two earned runs, though, and striking out three. Corey Knebel came in for the ninth inning, and stayed perfect so far since joining the ‘Caps. Final score: Whitecaps 1, Hot Rods 3.

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Brian with our favorite mascot-Crash the River Rascal!

Brian with our favorite mascot-Crash the River Rascal!

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Brian found some fellow Jedi to duel with!

Brian found some fellow Jedi to duel with!

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An Imperial Guard doing the YMCA!

An Imperial Guard doing the YMCA!

Lightsabers!!!!!

Lightsabers!!!!!

We also got this picture taken by MI Unlimited Photography:

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Here’s a video the Whitecaps released on their YouTube channel featuring Lily and Trevor:

Photos property of Minoring In Baseball

Loons take 2 of 3 from Whitecaps

Corey Seager had two home runs in game 2 against the Whitecaps

Corey Seager had two home runs in game 2 against the Whitecaps

There’s nothing like kicking off the second half of the Minor League Baseball season with an in-state rivalry. The Great Lakes Loons hosted the West Michigan Whitecaps at Dow Diamond in Midland, MI for the second season opener, taking two out of the three games. The Whitecaps took the first game by the score of 6-3. The ‘Caps were led offensively by Jeff Holm, who went 3-5 with a pair of doubles. Lance Durham and Connor Herrell also had two hits each for West Michigan. Herrell was making his professional debut after being drafted by the Tigers earlier this month, was 2-4 with a double, a run scored, an RBI, a base on balls, and a stolen base. The Loons actually opened the scoring in the first inning on a solo home run by Tyler Ogle. On the mound, relief pitcher Chad Smith earned the win, while Angel Sanchez took the loss, being charged with five earned runs, and nine hits over 5.1 innings. As a team, the ‘Caps had 11 hits in the game, and scored six unanswered runs.

Game two of the series was another exciting game, with Great Lakes taking the 9-7 win. Loons short stop Corey Seager went 3-4 with a pair of home runs to lead the offense. The Whitecaps battled back from being down 5-0, with a run-scoring triple by Holm and a three-run shot by Jake Stewart in the fourth. In the fifth, Jared Reaves and Devon Travis each hit doubles, and Herrell had a run-scoring base hit. Loons reliever Arismendy Ozoria earned the win, while Logan Ehlers took the loss for the ‘Caps. The Whitecaps had the bases loaded in the ninth, but the comeback fell short, as Jason King grounded out.

The Loons won the rubber-match also, 2-1, with a walk-off in the ninth-inning. Tyler Ogle blasted a double off ‘Caps relief pitcher Josh Turley that scored the winning run. Geoff Brown earned the win for Great Lakes, with Turley getting the loss. The star of the game, however, was West Michigan’s starting pitcher Jake Thompson, who struck out ten batters, a career high. The Tigers’ 19-year-old prospect gave up only three singles, and only one runner was in scoring position through the first eight innings. Tough loss for the ‘Caps and Thompson, but the win put the Loons’ fans into a frenzy!

Photo courtesy of Danielle McGrew/The Saginaw News

Whitecaps Update: A Solid Start

weekone1Just a quick entry before the kids and I head off downstate. The West Michigan Whitecaps have gotten off to a pretty good start this season. An early record of 3-2 isn’t amazing, but we’ll take it in this Michigan weather. After a great 7-6 comeback win against the Dayton Dragons on opening day, they followed that up with a nice 6-0 shutout. They faltered the next couple of games, losing to Dayton by the scores of 8-3 and 4-1, however. The ‘Caps bounced back in a big way, taking the first game of the series with the Fort Wayne TinCaps 11-4. Jake Stewart is currently leading West Michigan with a .462 average, followed by fellow outfielder Michael Hernandez at .429, and second baseman Devon Travis hitting .381. Travis is also one of the RBI leaders for West Michigan at five, tied with outfielder Jeff Holm, and trailed by Lance Durham with three. It’s a little early to judge the pitching stats, but Endrys Bicendo and Brennan Smith lead the team with four strike-outs each. Today’s game with Fort Wayne has been rained out, and the weather doesn’t look good for the rest of the week. High percentage of rain is anticipated for both games in Great Lakes and Lansing we planned on going to.

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Ten for Twenty

12527231-standardI don’t think that the West Michigan Whitecaps could have scripted last night’s game any better. Opening Day. Celebrating 20 years. Ten innings. A walk-off win. Add those together, and you get a night that Whitecaps fans won’t soon forget. West Michigan gave their fans something to cheer about right away in last nights’ game against the Dayton Dragons, by jumping out to a 3-0 lead. They let that slip away, however, but fought back to take a 6-3 lead. Things got more exciting, as the Dragons would tie it up again, and set up the extra inning. With Jeff Holm on second base representing the winning run, Jake Stewart blasted a fastball to right-center field to give his team the win, and Larry Parrish‘s debut a success.

“It was exciting,” Stewart stated to MLive.com. “I was looking for a fastball, something up in the zone, something I could hit through the infield, and I was fortunate to get something I could hit.”

12527239-standardThe ‘Caps pitching staff struggled in the cold Michigan weather, as five pitcher combined for eight walks and three wild pitches. Josh Turley earned the win, however, after shutting down the Dayton bats in the ninth inning. He pitched two innings and only gave up one hit. Starting pitcher Endrys Briceno lasted 3.2 innings, allowing two hits, two earned runs, walking three, and striking out four. Offensively, West Michigan was led by Stewart, who was 3-3 with two RBI’s, and a run scored. Also pitching in was second baseman Devon Travis, who went 2-5 with a triple, RBI and run scored. Designated hitter Lance Durham also went 2-5, with two doubles, and RBI and run scored. Austin Schotts and Danry Vasquez also added RBI’s in the game.  First year skipper Parrish seemed happy with the effort and end result, too.

“I thought we hit the ball pretty good, made a couple of nice plays in the field and, overall, we pitched very well when we threw strikes,” Parrish told MLive.com. “I mean, obviously, we had way too many walks and they really hurt us.”

12527235-standardYeah, this is just the first game, but a great way to kick off the season. We’ll have to get down and see this team play sooner than later. I’m not sure I can wait a whole month!

12527240-standard12527234-standardPhotos courtesy of Latara Appleby/MLive.com/Grand Rapids Press

Whitecaps Update: The 20th Season Begins

Print2013 Roster: The West Michigan Whitecaps, along with the parent Detroit Tigers, set and released the opening day ‘Caps roster yesterday. Well travelled manager Larry Parrish will take the helm of a more veteran club than we’ve seen in West Michigan the last couple of seasons. Every player on the roster is over 20, with the exception of top prospects Austin Schotts and Danry Vasquez, who will be 19 for the entire season. Schotts was the Tigers second pick in the 2012 draft, and is ranked as their fifth overall prospect by Baseball America. Last season with the GCL Tigers, he hit .310, stealing 15 bases, and scoring 31 runs in just 40 games. Schotts has the speed and athleticism for center field, which earned him a brief promotion to the Lakeland Flying Tigers late in the season. Vasquez, also and outfielder, started the 2012 season with the Whitecaps as the youngest player in the Midwest League. He struggled early, but excelled after being sent to the Connecticut Tigers in the NY/Penn League, where he hit .311, racking up a league leading 90 hits, and slugging 20 extra-base hits. Vasquez is ranked the sixth overall prospect for Detroit by BA. Joining the outfield duo from last seasons C-Tigs roster are pitching prospects Montreal Robertson (ranked 18th), Endrys Briceno (22), and Edgar De La Rosa (29). All three are expected to be part of the ‘Caps starting rotation this season, although no opening day starter has been named. The grandpa of the team will be returning outfielder Michael Hernandez, who suited up for West Michigan back in 2006, helping the team win the Midwest League Championship. He hit for the cycle twice that season, and set a record at the time with seven RBI’s in one game. The Tigers re-signed Hernandez, after trading him away in 2007. He’s played the last four seasons in the independent Atlantic League. Also returning from last season team are pitchers Brennan Smith (3-4, 3.86 ERA), Chad Smith (0-2, 4.38 ERA), Slade Smith (1 sv, 3.59 ERA), infielder Jeff Holm (.254 BA), and Lance Durham (.238, 4 HR).
Although this is his first season with the Whitecaps, Larry Parrish has managed the Tigers, Toledo Mud Hens, and has been the hitting coach in Texas. He’s joined on the bench by first year pitching coach, and former Tiger Mike Henneman, and returning hitting coach Scott Dwyer. This looks like it could be a special season for the Whitecaps…I’m hoping so anyway!

Outfielder Austin Schotts is ranked as the fifth highest prospect for the Tigers by Baseball America

Outfielder Austin Schotts is ranked as the fifth highest prospect for the Tigers by Baseball America

Open Workout: Whitecaps fans can meet and greet the new players and coaches, and catch up with the returning ones on Wednesday, April 3. The team will be holding an open workout where fans can watch practice, and get some autographs afterward. The event starts at 1:00 p.m., with the team practicing at 1:30, and the meet and greet from 2:30-3:00. The event is free for the public, as is the parking! If I was living a little closer, I’d be there for sure, as it was a big hit last season. The ‘Caps take the field for Opening Day on the 4th, hosting the Dayton Dragons.

capsbg3Whitecaps on TV: For all the games I can’t make it down from the Upper Peninsula for, the Whitecaps have signed a deal to have all of the their home games broadcast on MiLB.tv. I bought this last season, and loved it. It’s also very cheap if you buy it along with the MLB.tv package. They join all Triple-A teams, along with select Double and Single-A teams who are broadcast on the network. They join fellow Tiger affiliate the Toledo MudHens, and fellow Michigan team the Great Lakes Loons also. Living so far away from the ballparks, this is really a great deal for me, so I can keep up on all my teams. I wish the MiLB.tv would be compatible with the online streaming devises for my regular TV, though, like the MLB.tv is. Watching on computer or iPhone is ok, but doesn’t compare to watching them on the big screen!

Logo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps

Schotts photo courtesy of Flickr.com

Team photo 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

Hot Rods roll over Whitecaps

Bowling Green, KY: The Bowling Green Hot Rods came out strong in the second half of the season, and they haven’t taken their foot off the gas yet. The showed no mercy toward the visiting West Michigan Whitecaps, handing them their first sweep since April. In game one, the ‘Caps were down 4-0 early but did attempt a come back. Lance Durham and Jason Krizan had back to back RBI’s to cut the lead to 4-2, but neither team could put a runner across the plate the rest of the game. Eugenio Suarez, Jeff McVaney, Jason King, and Krizan each had two hits in the game. On the mound, Jeff Ferrell took the loss in five innings pitched.

The Whitecaps also attempted a come back win in game two of the series in a 5-4 loss. They left 12 runners on base and were 2-12 with runners in scoring position. West Michigan got on the board first, after a Chad Wright double, and Chad Wright picking up an RBI sac fly. Durham would hit his fourth homer of the season to cut the lead to 5-3, while King and Patrick Leyland hit back to back doubles to make it 5-4. They would load the bases in the ninth, but were unable to score the winning run. Will Palacios took the loss on the hill while pitching five innings.

The Whitecaps would load the bases in the ninth inning for the second night in a row, but were still unable to score the tying runs in a 3-1 loss to BG. Tommy Collier pitched three innings for the ‘Caps, while Brennan Smith threw three perfect innings. Aaron Westlake went 2-4 with an RBI single in the game. The Whitecaps return to Fifth Third Ballpark on Tuesday to host the Lake County Captains.

Photos courtesy of Pete Rodman/BG Daily News

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

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