MLN: 'Caps Pitching Strong, Hitting Not

Nothing is looking pretty in West Michigan right now. The 'Caps started their week out on a sour note. They lost to South Bend in a 6-2 beat-down of West Michigan's pitchers. The next night Audy Ciriaco played the part of the hero, and with his big bat, broke a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the ninth, on an 0-2 count, with a walk off single to give the 'Caps the 2-1 victory over Lansing.

The young Mauricio Robles was on the hill that night, and pitched his way through six scoreless innings, but would not pick up the win, however. The win belonged to Brett Jacobson, who pitched 2.2 flawless innings of relief, and gathered his first professional victory for the Whitecaps.

The August 14 game was more somber. The once-Mud Hen, Lauren Gagnier, pitched a beauty going all the way into the seventh; only allowing three hits and a run on a sixth inning wild pitch, before Orlando Perdomo came in and tossed two perfect innings in the 1-0 loss to Lansing. West Michigan's bats weren't even a threat. Joe Tucker was the lone leader of the 'Caps with just two hits.

Though Gagnier would get the tough-luck loss, manager Joe DePastino gave some sympathy for his pitcher and is finally at the end of his rope with his team's offensive performances.

"This time of year, you're going to put your best eight out there," DePastino expressed. "I've been very lenient. For some guys, it's going to be a rude awakening."

On the fourth day of the week DePastino said, "Let there be Jon Kibler." Kibler came and lit up Lansing through eight shutout innings, giving up four hits and no walks, while improving his record to 14-4 on the year. The Michigan State product is now just two wins shy of Andy Van Hekken and Jon Connelly's Whitecaps season record of 16 wins. Kibler is having one of the best seasons in franchise history.

Two Whitecaps stood out before their team this past week. August 14, second baseman Justin Henry was named the Midwest League Topps Player of the Month for July. He started the second half of the season on a high, batting .396 with 17 runs scored, 11 RBI and five stolen bases in the month of July. His average of .396 was tops of all Midwest League hitters. Currently he's hitting .301 with 21 doubles, one home run, 40 RBI, 67 runs scored and 22 stolen bases in 105 games this season. The former ninth round pick is one of the reasons the ‘Caps' offense is still alive in the Midwest.

The other stand out of the week came August 18. Kibler was named the Midwest Pitcher of the Week for the week of August 11-17. With his magnificent pitching performance Friday, Kibler easily took home the award. He was 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in three starts against the Lugnuts this season.

In addition to the award, the southpaw lowered his ERA to an MWL-leading 1.63 ERA and also leads the league in wins with 14 and innings pitched at 149.1. In his last 10 stars he's been nothing but superb, posting an 8-1 record and 0.78 ERA.

This is the sixth time the Whitecaps have won the MWL Player of the Week award, and Kibler's second honor this season. He is the only Whitecaps to win the award twice in the same season since Mike Hernandez won it on June 26 and July 24 in 2006. The six awards are the most won by the ‘Caps since the 1997 season when they won eight awards on way to a record-breaking season of 92-39.

So as it stands now, pitching is the only thing that carries West Michigan through games; their hitting is nonexistent and now they're suddenly a mess defensively. What went wrong?


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