TigsTown.com - Wendy Smith

September 12 - 18 Detroit Tigers Minor League Minor League Recap: End of the Line for West Michigan

The West Michigan Whitecaps held the responsibility of representing the entire organization in the 2016 playoffs, and they made good in the first round, upsetting the South Bend Cubs. Last week they had a chance to make it to the Midwest League Championship for the second year in a row, but it wasn’t meant to be. Check below to find out what happened.

<P><B><font size=3>Detroit Tigers Minor League Week in Review: 9/12 - 9/18</b></font><br><BR>


<P><font size=2><B>West Michigan Whitecaps</b>


<P>Weather issues prevented the Whitecaps from getting any time off between their matchup with the Cubs and their series with the Great Lakes Loons, and they fell 4-1 in the opener in Midland last Sunday. Facing elimination the next day, the Caps shook off a first-inning run from Great Lakes to score five of their own in the first two frames. Will Allen knocked in two with a single in the bottom of the first, and in the second inning Cam Gibson scored on a Joey Havrilak double. Havrilak moved to third base on a Brett Pirtle single, and then he scored on a squeeze bunt from Will Maddox. Pirtle then rode home on an RBI-double from Allen, and the Whitecaps never looked back. The Loons added two more runs in the top of the third inning, but starter Sandy Baez was otherwise brilliant, giving up just those three runs over 7 2/3 innings, and tying his season high with eight strikeouts. Trent Szkutnik recorded the final out of the eighth, and Mark Ecker worked a perfect ninth to close out the win and force a deciding game three.</P>


<P>West Michigan’s ace Kyle Dowdy took the mound on Tuesday night, and he was terrific, not surrendering a hit until the sixth inning. The offense, meanwhile, managed to scratch out two runs in the fourth inning against the power-armed phenom Yadier Alvarez. Will Maddox led off the inning with a walk, then scored when Loons third baseman Zach McKinstry committed a three-base error. Arvicent Perez grounded out to a drawn-in shortstop, and Allen didn’t score on a Jose Azocar infield single. He was then thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice when Josh Lester grounded to the first baseman. Azocar advanced to second on the fielder’s choice, and then David Gonzalez came up with a huge, two-out single to score Azocar, though Lester was thrown out at third to end the inning. Those two runs looked like they would stand, but Dowdy ran into some trouble in the seventh inning, giving up a walk and two singles to surrender a run. Bryan Garcia came into the game in a precarious situation, with the tying run on third and the go-ahead run on first with only one out, but the 2016 sixth-round pick got McKinstry to strike out swinging, and after walking the bases loaded, also struck out DH Saige Jenco. The Whitecaps held onto the lead, but unfortunately everything fell apart after that. Drew Smith came in to pitch the eighth inning, gave up a leadoff single, and then a two-run homer, and West Michigan never led again. The Caps got the tying run to second base in the bottom of the inning after a Havrilak single and a Pirtle sac bunt, but Maddox and Allen both struck out to end the scoring threat. Ecker came in the pitch the ninth and recorded two quick outs, but then Gage Green reached first after striking out on a wild pitch. Two singles and a wild pitch later, and the Loons owned a 5-2 lead. Lester doubled with two outs in the ninth, but West Michigan’s season came to a close when Gonzalez popped out to second base.</P>


<LI>Azocar finished his first playoff series with a .400 batting average (10-for-25), two runs scored, a steal, and an outfield assist. Pirtle (7-for-22, 3 runs scored), Allen (7-for-22, 3RBI), and Perez (7-for-23) joined Azocar with solid playoff performances.</LI><BR>

<LI>The homer against Smith wasn’t just the first he’s allowed this season, but the first he has allowed in his 82 2/3 professional innings. It was also just the 34th home run hit at Fifth Third Ballpark all year.</LI><BR>

<LI>Andrew Graham has managed the Whitecaps for three seasons, posting a 228-187 cumulative record, with three playoff appearances and one championship. The 34-year-old native of Australia appears destined for greater things soon.</LI><BR>



Tigs Town Top Stories