West Michigan is feeling what so many teams at so many levels have felt after an All Star break. The feeling is momentum when you're winning. And when you're losing it's a break in momentum, which creates a somewhat contagious effect to problems of performance.
The Whitecaps are 6-7 and are sitting tied for third in the Eastern Division. With a win last night against Fort Wayne, 9-4, the ‘Caps hope this can possibly start a streak to winning again.
Alfredo Figaro picked up another win last night after pitching six innings. He gave up seven hits with three, walked one and fanned five. Figaro improved his record to 10-2 and has kept his ERA strong at 1.75.
The big hero in Tuesday night's win, however, was Hayden Parrott. In his best game yet, the Michigan native almost went for the cycle, but was a double short of the feat. He drove in two runs for the ‘Caps and did rather well in right field.
Manager DePastino has been platooning his rookies more often since the All Star break to get an idea of what they can do. So far no one has really come out strong yet, but there is hope. Catcher and designated hitter Alex Avila is starting to look more comfortable at the plate and is hacking at good pitches.
The ‘Caps ended the month of June on a bad note. June 30, they lost to first place Lansing 4-0. This loss was due in part to errors in the tenth inning by shortstop Audy Ciraco and pitcher Andrew Hess.
The day before was much brighter before the storm on the 30th, with Kody Kaiser's heroics in the 13th inning to lead the ‘Caps to a 6-5 win over Lansing. Kaiser had the last of three consecutive two-out hits in the bottom of the 13th inning and collected the game winning RBI. Rudy "The Arrow" Darrow threw four perfect innings, carrying the game from the eighth to the 11th and did not allow a hit or a walk in his most truly earned victory.
While the ‘Caps yearn for Chris Carlson to return from his hand injury, they are mixing the lineup every game to see what works best for now. Doing this, players have certainly been out struggling to provide a consistent offense.
June 27, the Tigers made some moves to the ‘Caps roster by sending both RHP Brandon Hamilton and 2008 draftee LHP Matt Hoffman down the farm system after not providing what the team needs. Hoffman was sent to short season Oneonta after the southpaw, in two starts, went 0-2 with a 4.70 ERA. Hamilton packed his bags and was assigned to the GCL Tigers after going 0-5 in eight games and six starts with a 5.01 ERA. Hamilton was the Tigers 10th top prospect in their organization and has struggled in his first full season in professional ball.
There is good news though. With the demotion of Hoffman and Hamilton the Tigers assigned another pair of 2008 draftees to the ‘Caps' roster. Third round pick, RHP Scott Green and 16th round pick, RHP Thad Weber.
Green is a 6'7, 240-pound powerful right-hander out of the University of Kentucky. For the Wildcats he posted a 6-4 record and 4.76 ERA in 20 games and eight starts this past season for them.
Weber is a 6'2, 205-pound right-hander from Seward, Nebraska. In the two seasons he pitched for the University of Nebraska he definitely made his mark among top scouts. This past season he posted a 9-5 record with a 6.15 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 79.0 innings through 15 starts. Weber, in his first professional start last week with the GCL-Tigers, tossed 4.0 perfect innings with a dominant nine strikeouts and no walks.
The ‘Caps' roster now features five picks from this year's draft and hope with the addition of this talent they can provide the momentum they need to sail the rest of the season. It will be quite a challenge for the second half ‘Caps.