Results tagged ‘ Rays ’
Fifth-Third Ballpark-Comstock Park, MI: As much as I loved my time in North Carolina, it was good to be back in Michigan, and have the home field advantage. It felt comfortable to be back in my own ballpark, and to see the Whitecaps play for the first time this season. After riding in airplanes most of the day, it was nice to be in the fresh air and wandering around Fifth-Third Ballpark. We were also one of the lucky ones to get an Avisail Garcia bobble head at the gate. It was good to see the best mascot in the minors, Crash the River Rascal, hamming it up on the concourse with the kids. I wandered down and watched the Whitecaps warm up, and got some good pics of the team. I was excited to see guys like Devin Travis and Danry Vasquez in action. It was also cool to see new pitching coach Mike Henneman, who was one of my favorite Tigers when I was younger. Henneman seemed to be joking around with his staff a little, and keeping his pitchers loose. It was good to see some familiar faces and be back home, and this will go down as one of the best baseball trips ever.
The game did not go our way, and the Whitecaps home field advantage did them little good as the Hot Rods shut them right down. Starting pitcher Charlie Gillies took the loss, but had no run support. He gave up three runs and struck out three, in just over five innings of work. Both second baseman Jared Reaves and third baseman Mario Martinez went 2-4, but could not help get a run across the plate. Win or lose, however, there’s still no place that I’d rather be. Final score: Whitecaps 0, Hot Rods 4.
Durham Bulls Athletic Park-Durham, NC: This is one that have been on my bucket list for some time…the Durham Bulls. And what a better time than the 25th anniversary of the hit movie Bull Durham? The new ballpark is located right downtown, so parking can be a nightmare. Throw in all the construction, and it’s a pain if you don’t get to the ballpark early. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park was simply the gem of our trip. It’s an amazing ballpark with no bad seat in the house. It’s easily one of the best minor league parks we’ve ever been to. It was a beautiful sunny day, and luckily we were able to catch some shade. It was a little ironic, too, that we were sitting next to someone from my hometown, Grand Rapids, MI. I enjoyed the game immensely, and the Bulls really do put on a great show for their fans. Triple-A is also a good chance to see the young stars on the rise, and former major leaguers in action as well. If you’re a baseball fan, you need to see a Durham Bulls game. It’s as simple as that.
The game itself saw the Bulls defending their home turf against the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. The Bulls took care of business early, and never looked back. Lead-off hitter Jason Bourgeois led the way offensively, going 3-4 with an RBI. Third-baseman Vince Belome contributed a pair of hits and an RBI, also. Alex Colome earned the win on the mound for the home team, throwing seven complete innings. Our Durham experience lived up to the hype, and couldn’t have gone better (well, maybe it would have been nice to see a player win a steak, and the mascot hit by a pitch). Final score: Bulls 8, Iron Pigs 2.
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.
Empire State Yankees vs. Durham Bulls
Frontier Field-Rochester, NY: While the Red Wings are away, the Yankees will play…in Frontier Field, that is. Due to a new stadium being built, the Scratnon/Wilkes Barre Yankees will be taking on the moniker of ‘Empire State’ for the season, and playing ‘home games’ in places such as Rochester and Syracuse while the home teams are out-of-town. This gave us a great opportunity to catch a game, and see two more teams, that we probably would not have seen otherwise. I found Frontier Field a very nice venue, and our seats could not have been better, front row on the third base side. The kids had a lot of fun watching this game on MiLB.TV, as they could see their daddy and papa quite a bit. The game itself flew by, as the Durham Bulls shut out the Yankees 1-0. Alex Cobb got the win on the mound for Durham, and I was surprised to see him pitching for the Rays when I turned the game on last night versus the Red Sox. We had a lot of fun here, and were excited about the fact we would be coming back in a few days to watch the Red Wings. I went right to bed after the game, though, as the next morning we would get up bright and early to get on the road to Cooperstown…Final: Bulls 1, Yankees 0.
Not too many fans can have more fun at the ballpark than we did on Wednesday. The sun was shining, and we were more than ready to soak up some baseball. The kids got to spend the day with their Papa, too, as us taking him to the game was park of his birthday present. Not a huge crowd for a noon game on a weekday, so we had plenty of space for us to walk around, watch the warm-ups, and the kids had to play on the park before the game, too.
The highlight of the afternoon, especially for Brian, was the Crash Dash. Each game one lucky kid gets to race the Whitecaps’ mascot Crash around the bases. Lucky for Brian, his number came up and he didn’t fail. We got to hang out down by the West Michigan dugout, then got on the field for the race. Brian darted around the bases like a pro, and left Crash in the dust! He looked great on the big screen, too. Thanks to Lily, because she took some great pics while I was on the field with Brian. I was able to snap a few with my phone, also. I think Brian was pretty happy with himself after his performance, and we were all pretty happy for him, too!
Trevor was busy during the game also, as he caught a stuffed egg (yes, like a stuffed animal, but it was an egg) to give to his sister. He was also given a game ball by Jason Krizan that he is very proud of. Lily, Brian, and I snuck over to the seats that were taken from Tiger Stadium, and sat there for a little bit. Those seats are usual always empty, because they cost twice as much as the others.
In the game itself, the Bowling Green Hot Rods hit the ‘Caps pitchers pretty hard, nailing 18 hits for the 9-4 victory. Krizan had a good day at the plate for West Michigan, though, he hit a sac fly in the fourth innings for the Whitecaps first run, then walked in a run for an RBI seventh. He had a solo home run in the ninth inning to, but the team was unable to score any more runs. Dean Green extended his six game hitting streak with a bunt single in the fourth inning. He’s now batting .423 with two home runs. On the mound, Josue Carreno took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits.
In all, it was a great day at Fifth Third Ballpark to kick off the 2012 season. We would’ve liked a Whitecaps victory, but had a great time regardless. With the sun shining, a cold beer, the little guy running the bases, Lily’s stuffed toy, and Trevor’s game ball, we all went home happy. We ended the day at Chuck E. Cheese’s, too, just to make it even more fun for the kids!!!
Photos property of M.I.B.
After being shut out on Opening Day by the Dayton Dragons, the West Michigan Whitecaps earned a bit of retribution by shutting out the Bowling Green Hot Rods 4-0 in their home opener. The ‘Caps got the offense going early, getting RBI singles from Brandon Loy and Steve Moya in the first inning. They added two more runs in the sixth inning, one off a home run from Dean Green. The other run came from another RBI single by Moya. Aaron Westlake added two doubles for West Michigan. For Green, this was his second home run of the season, and manager Ernie Young is taking notice.
“He’s a big hitter,” Young told the Grand Rapids Press. “He’s someone who this organization hasn’t seen in a few years.”
Young also praised starting pitcher Brennan Smith, who threw five shutout innings for this win. He only allowed four hits, no walks, and had a pair of strikeouts. He was limited to 79 pitches on the night.
“He pitched a great game. He competed well, and hopefully next time he goes six innings,” stated Young. “Coming out of spring training, these guys are on a low pitch count and we have to take care of their arms.”
The bullpen got the job done for the Whitecaps, too. Ryan Wooley gave up only one hit in two innings, while Michael Torrealba and Daniel Bennett pitched one inning each without giving up a hit. The Whitecaps host Bowling Green tomorrow night, and then we’ll be at the game on Wednesday at noon. I am sooo ready for live baseball, and the kids are pumped!!!
If you’re one of the millions of Americans who excercise your right not to vote, now might be a good time for a change. Voting can undo some major injustices, and if Detroit Tigers catcher (and former West Michigan Whitecap) Alex Avia does not start the 2011 MLB All-Star Game, that would be an injustice. At this time, Avila is trailing Yankees catcher Russell Martin by a fairly significant amount (2,226,797 to 1,730,511 as of 6/21). If you compare the two, however, you’d have to agree that Avila is simply the better choice. The Tigers back-stop is hitting .304, with 15 doubles, 10 homers, and 45 RBI. Compare this to Martin, who is batting a whopping .230, though his nine home runs and 30 RBI’s aren’t bad. Defensively, Martin has caught only 12 base-stealers, while 34 have made it safely to second while he was behind the plate, for a CS% of .261. Avila, however has a CS% of .400, nailing 20 out of 50 at second. I’m not saying that Martin is a bad player, or a bad person, or anything like that. The simple facts of baseball at this point, however, state that Avila is the better catcher at this time and should be the starter come July 12. I also understand how the system works for the All-Star game, and Martin being a Yankee has a huge advantage. Even Jeter is leading the race to start at short stop, and we all know that he’s battling injury, and did not play like his legendary self this season. The power is in our hands, we can vote on who actually deserves to be there, or let the All-Star game become more pointless that it has already become.
Other Whitecaps alumni who should be in the starting line-up on July 12 at Matt Joyce (TB) and Jair Jurrjens (ATL). Joyce is batting .313 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI for the Rays. Jurrjens has been one of the best pitchers in the National League all season with the Braves, sporting an ERA of 2.07 and a record of 10-3. He has struck out 55 batters to boot. Representing the Tigers in the Futures Game for Team USA is former ‘Cap Jacob Turner. Turner is 2-2, with an ERA of 3.01 with 72 strike-outs for the Erie SeaWolves of the Eastern League.
Illustration courtesy of Samara Pearlstein
Many alumni of the famed West Michigan Whitecaps are now in spring training with their current team. Some have spots all but wrapped up with their MLB team, other are fighting for a spot, and some are still on the rise through the system. It’s fun to watch the games and see guys in action that I’ve watched or maybe have met at Fifth Third Ballpark in Grand Rapids. Here’s some pics of some the former ‘Caps in training. We wish them all the best no matter where they might be.
Alex Avila-C (Tigers)
Duane Below-P (Tigers)
Brennan Boesch-OF (Tigers)
Luke French-P (Mariners)
Brandon Inge-3B (Tigers)
Matt Joyce-OF (Rays)
Photos courtesy of Getty Images