A cold and sloppy April may have something to do with some of the early woes and inconsistencies facing this team. First baseman Aaron Westlake is the first to agree on that.
"We're a good team and it's still extremely early in the season. It's the part of the season right now where it's cold and everyone's just trying to battle to keep their hands from freezing."
The Whitecaps' hitters have kept their hands from freezing at times while scoring five runs or more in seven of their contests. With a team batting average of .263, they have tallied 74 runs off of 175 hits and are third in the league in home runs with 14. But on the flip side the ‘Caps have struggled in some bad losses and have given up at least five runs in just as many games.
Contributing to this problem is the fact that the ‘Caps have not capitalized with guys on base as much as manager Ernie Young would hope.
"We haven't been hitting the ball well with men in scoring position. But in the end, this team doesn't quit."
Not quitting is something this ballclub has excelled at early on. Though West Michigan went 3-4 last week, the team saw its fair share of comebacks and comeback attempts. Following their four run ninth to overcome a 5-4 deficit against the Captains, the ‘Caps' rally fell short the next day after trailing 8-0 early on. Scratching out four runs over the course of the game to make the Timber Rattlers of Wisconsin start to sweat, Westlake credited his team for not mailing it in.
"Even though we were down 8-0 after the second inning, we started battling back and made it a close game in the end. So that just goes to show that we're never going to give up and that together we're strong as a team."
The never give up attitude paid its dividends a few nights later when Eugenio Suarez launched a go-ahead three run shot high over the left field wall in the bottom of the eighth against the Snappers to eventually help lead his team to a 6-3 win. The comeback bid started in the seventh when, down 3-1, Dean Green lifted a solo home run over the fence.
But the close games and late comebacks aren't always going to work, as was evident the previous night while suffering a series sweep to Wisconsin in a 12 inning marathon in which eight different pitchers – four from each team – saw action on the hill.
"We got to help out our pitchers a little more," said Westlake. "If we're always giving them the one run ball games and not giving them enough run support, it's just not going to work sometimes."
One Man's End is another Man's Beginning
Last week brought the end of a couple of hitting streaks – those of Brandon Loy and Steven Moya. But it marked the continuation of a different streak for closer Daniel Bennett. After a rocky start to the season where he gave up four runs over his first couple innings of work, Bennett hasn't given up a run since April 10.
Since that date, Bennett has stretched 6 1/3 innings allowing no runs while fanning eight. In that span, he's lowered his ERA to 4.15.
South paw reliever Jade Todd picked up a pair of wins last week as well with strong outings from the pen while starter Kyle Ryan collected his first win of the season. The victory came against the Beloit Snappers at home in a game where the ‘Caps took advantage of five errors committed by the visitors.
The Upcoming Week
The Whitecaps will enjoy their first off day in almost three weeks today and will resume play in Davenport, Iowa to take on the Quad Cities River Bandits in a three game set. After one more away series against the Cedar Rapids Kernels, the ‘Caps will return home next week Wednesday.