West Mich MLN: Roller coaster Offense

Last week was witness to the Whitecaps both exploding for runs on offense – scoring eight and ten runs in contests on the road – and once again sputtering on offense – tallying only one run and getting shut out in two other games. The inconsistencies that have all too well been a major part of this season finds the ‘Caps struggling to keep pace with the league leading Lansing Lugnuts.

Garnering hits hasn't been the issue for West Michigan as the ‘Caps are tied for third in the league with 212. The problem has been that the hits have not been timely. Gaining momentum in innings and being able to score runs consistently is tough when their leadoff spot is batting .212. The seven and nine holse spots in the lineup have had growing pains as well batting .100 and .118 respectively over the past week and well below the Mendoza Line for the season.

News didn't get any better for the ‘Caps last week either when their team and league leading hitter Steven Moya was placed on the Disabled List after pulling up limp in his right hamstring chasing down a fly ball in their road opening series against the Quad Cities River Bandits.

Without Moya's presences in the lineup, the Whitecaps were the victims of four double plays and only four hits – all of which were singles.

Appearing to get back on track, West Michigan rallied for a 2-1 victory after a successfully executed eighth inning suicide squeeze off the barrel of Brandon Loy the next night followed by a wild, sloppy 8-6 win to take the series.

In the win, the two teams combined for 17 walks, six wild pitches and four errors, culminating in the fact that the Whitecaps came close to blowing a five run lead in the ninth giving up three runs – all of which were credited to the arm of Ramon Lebron.

Since opening the season on the disabled list, Lebron has struggled in his return mustering an ERA of 8.44 in 5 1/3 innings and this appearance was no different. Not recording an out, Lebron walked three and eventually gave way to Michael Torrealba who finished the game, collecting his third save of the year. Nonetheless, the River Bandits were able to make it close earning five walks and benefitting from a catcher's interference. The only ball hit in play that inning was a fly out for the third and final putout of the game.

After a rainout on Sunday, the ‘Caps played in a doubleheader against the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Dropping the first game in which Kyle Ryan pitched well enough to win going six strong innings while allowing three earned runs off eight hits, again the ‘Caps had a hard time finding some offense. The first four batters went 1-for-10 collectively and only twice did the Whitecaps find themselves in scoring position beyond the first inning.

But yet again, the ‘Caps showed they can light up the scoreboard as they totaled a season high ten runs with 13 hits in game two. Eugenio Suarez led the charge going 3-for-5 with a double and a pair of RBI. Nick Avila collected his first win of the season pitching in relief even though he surrendered three runs in 2 1/3 innings of work.

As quickly and as swiftly as their offensive fire was ignited, it was extinguished the very next day. In the series finale against the Kernels, the Whitecaps were in danger of being no-hit until the top of the seventh when Loy doubled to right field, his team's lone hit of the afternoon.

Despite Brennan Smith looking good again in 5 2/3 innings on the mound, he suffered his second loss when the game got away from the bullpen as five more runs were tacked on by the home team. The end result was an 8-0 beating, the ‘Caps' 13th loss of the season.

West Michigan will return home this evening looking for some much needed consistency from their offense when they take on the Fort Wayne TinCaps.

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