MLN: Six Days on the Road in the Midwest

The West Michigan Whitecaps have been a mixed bag of late; mixing in solid pitching, porous defense, and sporadic offense, to lead to an up-and-down stretch. West Michigan Correspondent Michael Dault details the trials and tribulations of the 'Caps six-day road trip.

Sometimes people get homesick — it's understandable. Well, not in baseball.

The 'Caps — having a 7-8 road record— were entering this six day road trip after coming off a five game win streak. They most certainly looked to have the upper hand, or so it may have seemed.

They kicked off the stretch with back-to-back losses against Cedar Rapids. Strong pitching performances by the Garcia boys (Ramon and Wilton) gave the 'Caps enough ammo though to pull out a pair of wins in their next two games against the Kernels (9-2) and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (4-3).

Having a somewhat rough start to the beginning of the season, Ramon Garcia has carried his weight as of late, leading in innings pitched with 33.1 and leaving runs hard to come by having a 2.70 ERA.

Relief pitcher Rudy "The Arrow" Darrow (3-1) is finding himself to be the core of the relief. He is consistent in every appearance, allowing only three walks and eight hits in 11 appearances. To date, his 0.63 ERA leads the Whitecaps bullpen. When a starter runs into trouble, manager Joe DePastino's eyes turn — in comfort — to Darrow. "The Arrow" has a wicked submarine-style which fools most lefties. He even has right-handers chasing at times.

On a side note, right-handed pitcher Wilton Garcia is improving on every pitching appearance, perfecting his ERA to 4.40. Garcia seems to be more comfortable on the hill, but sometimes lacks going further innings in close games.

Catcher Jordan Newton seems to be winning the catcher competition against - new off the DL — Joseph Bowen. Although Newton has seven errors, his batting seems to make up for it. He's batting .355, and with his 62 at-bats, he's knocked in 10 RBIs, has 8 extra-base hits and two stolen bases. Newton typically floats through the bottom half of the lineup, batting sixth through nine, and has played DH at times.

Audy Ciriaco continues to have woes at shortstop. Being on the road, he has found himself the subject of wild throws, badly timed ground balls and poorly caught line drives and pop-ups. On April 29, Ciriaco had three of the eight errors alone in a poor defensive performance by the ‘Caps. To date, he — in 20 games — has committed 13 errors. Seven of those errors were produced on this six game roadie. The ‘Caps do not have the worst defense in the Midwest league, but in their last 10 games they seem to be inching their way up that tedious latter.

The ‘Caps' offensive leaders as of late consist of the powerful hitting of Christopher Carlson, the "spark supply" of Roger Tomas, the durability of Joseph Tucker and the rising performances of Casper Wells. Even though these fab-four are showing signs of promise throughout an overall above average ‘Caps team, the club overall seems to be very inconsistent — even head scratching at times.

Today the Whitecaps play the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers for the last time before returning home. Lauren Gagnier (0-2) will take the mound today for the ‘Caps. He seems to be having problems finding the plate in the four starts he has made for the club. With some of the impressive numbers he's putting up — 19.1 innings pitched and 25 strikeouts — it's hard to believe his ERA is less than appealing at 7.45 and he has allowed 21 hits.

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