Playoff Push: It’s hard to believe, but after finishing the first half of the season in last place the Whitecaps are in contention for the final wild card playoff spot in the Midwest League. At his point their majic number is down to three over the Lansing Lugnuts. The ‘Caps helped themselves by racking off 12 straight wins in August, tying a franchise record set July 14-25, 1999. If they can hold on make the playoffs, it would make it six straight years for the ‘Caps and 14 in the 17 yr. history of the team. There current record is 34-29 and are five games up on Lansing.
Quade Takes Over Cubs: Former West Michigan Whitecap’s manager Mike Quade was named interim manager of the Chicago Cubs this month after Lou Piniella stepped down for personal reasons. Qaude managed the Whitecaps to a 77-61 record in 1996, and led the club to it’s first Midwest League Championship back when they were affiliated with the Oakland Athletics. Quade has 17 years and 2, 378 games of experience as a manager at the minor league level and seven years experience at the major league level. He’s in his eighth season with the Cubs, having served as third base and outfield coach.
Guests At Fifth-Third Ballpark: The second half of the season saw some pretty impressive guests visit the Whitecaps. For Tiger Fridays, former players Jack Morris, Mike Henneman, Dick McAuliffe, and Frank Howard were in attendance signing autographs. Also visiting the ‘Caps for soccer night was former Portage Central All-American and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Lindsay Tarplay. She told the Grand Rapids Press: “My older brother played baseball in high school and at Western Michigan, so I grew up watching him. And I played softball for several years, so I’m a big fan of baseball.” Baseball fans are a big fan of you, too, Lindsay. I decided to post the pic of her over the ballplayers simply because she’s kinda cute..
Feeney Sets Record: ‘Caps pitcher Trevor Feeney set a new Whitecaps record Monday night, throwing 179 2/3 innings this season. The mark was formly held by Nate Cornejo who pitched 174 2/3 innings in 1999. If the ‘Caps do sneak into the playoffs, there’s a chance he might being starting game one as well. “I could either pitch five days from now or pitch the playoff opener”, he told the Grand Rapids Press. “It would definately be a big game and a new experience for me. I’ve never pitched in a three-game series before.” West Michigan manager Joe DePastino wouldn’t mind him starting either, and was impessed with him breaking the record. “If we can, he’ll start game one, but it would depend if and when we clinch. There’s a lot of stuff to be determined and what Detroit tells us to do.” The record shows improvement in Feeney, who threw on 151 innings during his first two minor league seasons. So far in 2010 he’s pitched into the seventh inning in 18 of 28 starts.
Quade photo courtesy of the Associated Press
Tarplay photo courtesy of the Kalamazoo Gazette
Feeney photo property of M.I.B.
‘Caps in Second(to last): With a record of 7-14 so far this young season, obviously West Michigan’s young roster is having some struggles. The Whitecaps finally broke out of thier offensive slump yesterday, though, beating the Lansing Lugnuts 7-2 on the back of 12 hits. They had scored just three runs in their previous five games. The losing streak even prompted manager Joe DePastino to call their hitting struggles ‘ugly’ earlier this week. Instead of having someone throw batting practice, he had the team use the pitching machine with some speed in order to get the team to shorten their strides and hit line drives up the middle. It seemed to have worked.
The bright spot so far in 2010 is the young pitching staff. This year’s rotation is sporting a solid 3.15 ERA with the bullben being 2-2 with a 2.83 ERA in the past 15 games. Starter Trevor Feeney leads the way with 24 strikeouts and a 3.25 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched. Also throwing well are Jacob Turner (0-0, 1.00) and Giovani Soto (1-1, 2.63). Turner unfortunately was place on the DL Monday for stiffness in his right arm. He had only allowed one run and seven hits in his two starts.
Inge Bobblehead: If you happen to be in the Grand Rapids area on May 7, stop into Fifth Third Ballpark for your free Brandon Inge bobblehead. The bobbling likeness of the former Whitecap and current Detroit Tiger will be given away to the first 1,000 fans through the gate.
Boesch MLB Debut: Outfielder Brennan Boesch recently made his Major League debut for the Tigers after Carlos Guillen was placed on the DL. In five game with the Tigers he is batting .278 with five hits, including three doubles and three RBI’s. He was a 3rd round pick of Detroit in the 2006 draft. Playing for the Whitecaps in 2007, he hit .267 with 19 doubles and 10 home runs. This kid definately has some power. He’ll need to cut down on the strikeouts and work on his fielding a bit to stay up at this level.
This will be my last post for at least another week or so, as I’m leaving for my baseball trip to Iowa later today. Wish me a safe journey with no rainouts.
Inge photo courtesy of the West Michigan Whitecaps
Boesch photo courtesy of the Midwest League