West Mich MLN: Looking to Gain Momentum

Starting the week off as victim of not only a shut out but also a no-hitter, the first suffered since 2003, the Whitecaps responded to win three of five over the remainder of a six game road trip. But is this going to be the turning point in the season where the ‘Caps finally put it all together, gain momentum and start winning chunks of games at a time?

The ‘Caps have been shut out nine times this season and rarely do they react with a good showing the following night. Just a 3-6 record subsequent to a shutout, West Michigan has struggled to bounce back. Not only have they been unsuccessful after these poor performances, but also have been unable to string together a long win streak. Five games in a row has been the ceiling thus far while the ‘Caps have had one four-game and four three-game win streaks.

At 12-12 in the second half, the Whitecaps are only three games back on the leader board but can't seem to shake the sentiments of the manager and numerous players in that this roster still has more talent than their record illustrates.

Participating in contests that haven't been all that close either on the win or loss side lately, the Whitecaps haven't been able to get their closer, Daniel Bennett, much work. Given his first save opportunity in the month of July on Sunday, Bennett delivered for his 11th save of the year and then talked about the difficulties of having to wait so long in between opportunities.

"It's a little difficult having to wait on the bench for so long," said Bennett, "but I need to always be ready and always keep the mindset that anytime I enter a game, I feel as if it's a one run ballgame. That way I don't lose my mentality towards the game and end up with a shaky outing."

His shaky outings have been few and far between but they have come during time facing left handed hitters. Against right handed sluggers, Bennett boasts a .197 average against the opposition stockpiling 29 punch-outs. Conversely, lefties are batting .333 against the sidearm hurler while only striking out seven times.

Bennett talked about needing a completely different approach when it came to facing lefties.

"You definitely have to have a different approach and I've been able to find some things while working with my coaches this year that I've had some success with and I've found some things that I've struggled with. You have to have that different approach and confidence when you have to face a lefty. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn't but you can't hang your head as you have to keep going back out there. You have to keep trying to get that out."

Quietly Building His Resume

While it's easy to get caught up in the big and well known names on the ‘Caps' roster such as Pat Leyland and Colin Kaline as well as some of their more recent high draft picks in Aaron Westlake and Jason King, shortstop Eugenio Suarez has been a solid staple in this year's lineup. Making his case as a solid potential middle infield option – something the Tigers desperately need – Suarez has played exceptionally well batting in the top half of the lineup.

Appearing in all but four games this season, the Venezuelan native has notched an impressive .313 average at the plate with a team leading .411 on base percentage, good for second best in the Midwest League. Also a good option for stealing once on the base path, Suarez is second only to teammate Chad Wright with 14 steals.

Additionally, he's made his mark in the field as a concrete presence defensively committing only ten errors. With tools behind the plate, on the bases and also in the field, Suarez could be finding himself in a new uniform shortly en route to the Big Leagues.

The Whitecaps enjoyed their second day off in as many weeks yesterday and are returning to Fifth Third Field tonight to play the first game of two separate series' in front of the home crowd.

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