TinCaps win, completing MWL playoff picture

It took until the final day of the regular season, but the Midwest League playoff picture is finally complete after the Fort Wayne TinCaps claimed the Eastern Division’s second-half wild-card spot.

The TinCaps led the wild-card standings by a half-game heading into Monday’s action, and clinched the final MWL playoff berth with a 4-0 win over the Bowling Green Hot Rods. The game was scoreless until 2B Josh VanMeter hit a three-run homer in the top of the 7th inning. He hadn’t homered since May 29.

The two starting pitchers — RHP Ronald Herrera for the TinCaps and LHP Ben Griset for the Hot Rods — posted identical lines: 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K.

The TinCaps host the West Michigan Whitecaps for the start of their playoff series on Wednesday. The other MWL playoff games scheduled for Wednesday are: South Bend Silver Hawks at Lake County Captains; Kane County Cougars at Wisconsin Timber Rattlers; and Burlington Bees at Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Midwest League, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Former MWL skipper Lawless named Astros’ interim manager

The Houston Astros fired skipper Bo Porter today and named Tom Lawless their interim manager.

Lawless managed five seasons in the Midwest League, for the Angels, Cardinals and Padres organizations.

His managerial career began with a three-year stint in Cedar Rapids. He managed the Kernels from 1994 to 1996, reaching the playoffs all three years. The 1994 Kernels won the Midwest League championship, defeating the Rockford Royals in the finals.

Lawless coached in the International League for three seasons before returning to the Midwest League in 2000. His Peoria Chiefs team didn’t make the playoffs, but he managed budding star Albert Pujols that year. (Pujols was the Midwest League MVP and shared Prospect of the Year honors with Dayton Dragons OF Austin Kearns that year.)

Lawless joined the Padres organization for the 2001 season, when he managed the Fort Wayne Wizards to a 54-83 record. He has since managed in other leagues, and this year he worked as a roving infield instructor for the Astros organization, which includes the Quad Cities River Bandits.

Lawless didn’t play in the Midwest League, but Porter did. As a Chicago Cubs farmhand, Porter batted .271 in 66 games with the 1994 Peoria Chiefs and .241 in 105 games with the 1996 Rockford Cubbies.

Posted in Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, International League, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits | Leave a comment

TinCaps lead ED wild-card race with one day left

With one day left in the regular season, the Midwest League’s second-half Eastern Division wild card is still undecided — but the Fort Wayne TinCaps have the easiest route to winning it.

Sunday ended with the TinCaps leading the wild-card race by a half-game over the Great Lakes Loons and a full game over the Dayton Dragons. The Bowling Green Hot Rods and the Lansing Lugnuts were eliminated from playoff contention.

The TinCaps only have to win their game against the Hot Rods on Monday to get into the playoffs. They also could back into the playoffs if all three teams still in contention — the TinCaps, the Loons and the Dragons — lose.

If the TinCaps lose and the Loons win, Great Lakes makes the playoffs.

If the Dragons win and both the TinCaps and the Loons lose, then Dayton makes the playoffs based on the tiebreaker system.*

The winner of the second-half Eastern Division wild card will host the West Michigan Whitecaps on Wednesday. The other round of Eastern Division playoffs begins Wednesday with the Lake County Captains hosting the South Bend Silver Hawks.

Rattlers clinch playoff berth

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers clinched the second-half Western Division wild card Saturday when they beat the Beloit Snappers and the Peoria Chiefs lost to the Kane County Cougars.

The Timber Rattlers will host the Cougars on Wednesday. The other Western Division playoff series begins Wednesday with the Cedar Rapids Kernels hosting the Burlington Bees.

*The tiebreaker goes to the winner of the best record in head-to-head meetings during the regular season. If that doesn’t determine a winner, the playoff spot goes to the team with the best run differential in head-to-head meetings. If that still doesn’t determine a winner, the playoff spot goes to the winner of the two clubs’ last meeting of the regular season.

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Wild-card races remain tight with two days left in season

The second-half wild-card races in both divisions of the Midwest League remain tight heading into the penultimate day of the regular season.

With an 11-1 win over the Lake County Captains last night, the Dayton Dragons have regained the wild-card lead in the Eastern Division. They lead the Great Lakes Loons and the Fort Wayne TinCaps by a half-game, and lead the Lansing Lugnuts and the Bowling Green Hot Rods by one game. The TinCaps and Hot Rods will play a doubleheader in Bowling Green today, while the other teams will each play one game (Great Lakes at West Michigan Whitecaps, Dayton at Lake County, South Bend Silver Hawks at Lansing).

In the Western Division wild-card race, the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers hold a half-game lead over the Peoria Chiefs and the Quad Cities River Bandits. Their games today: Wisconsin at Beloit Snappers, Quad Cities at Burlington Bees, and Peoria at Kane County Cougars.

Snappers get big game from Freiman

Oakland Athletics 1B Nate Freiman, who is assigned to Beloit for the final three games of the Midwest League season, went 3-for-5 with a double and a two-run homer against Wisconsin last night. The Snappers beat the Timber Rattlers 6-2.

Freiman is not with the Snappers on a rehabilitation assignment; rather, he is in Beloit because he can return to Oakland’s major-league roster faster that way. For a fuller explanation, read this post.

Bees, Angels extend affiliation

The Burlington Bees and the Los Angeles Angels announced Saturday that they have extended their player development contract through the 2016 season.

The Bees, the Western Division’s first-half wild-card team this year, have been affiliated with the Angels since 2012.

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, South Bend Silver Hawks, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

White Sox trade Dunn to A’s for Sanburn

The Chicago White Sox and the Oakland Athletics agreed to swap former Midwest League players Sunday morning.

The White Sox traded DH/1B Adam Dunn (1999 Rockford Reds/2000 Dayton Dragons) and cash considerations to the A’s for minor-league pitcher Nolan Sanburn (2013 Beloit Snappers).

Dunn had played for the White Sox since signing with the team as a free agent in December 2010. He came up to the major leagues with the Cincinnati Reds, who drafted him in 1998.

As a Reds farmhand, Dunn played two seasons in the Midwest League. In 1999, he batted .307 with 11 HR, 44 RBI and 21 SB in 93 games with the Rockford Reds. In 2000, he batted .281 with 16 HR, 79 RBI and 24 SB in 122 games with the Dayton Dragons.

Sanburn, 23, pitched briefly for the Beloit Snappers last year, going 1-3 with a 1.38 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 26 IP. He went 3-1 with a 3.28 ERA, six saves, and 73 strikeouts in 71.1 IP for the High-A Stockton Ports this season.

Posted in Beloit Snappers, California League, Dayton Dragons, Midwest League, Stockton Ports | Leave a comment

Clinton, QC split doubleheader

I’m in the Quad Cities for a couple days, so I took in the LumberKings-River Bandits doubleheader at Modern Woodmen Park on Friday. The two teams split the double dip.

The first game was a pitchers duel won 1-0 by the LumberKings. Clinton’s pitching walked five but gave up only one hit. LumberKings SP Edwin Diaz struck out nine and walked three in five hitless innings.

Clinton LumberKings SP Edwin Diaz

Clinton LumberKings SP Edwin Diaz

In six innings, River Bandits SP Adrian Houser gave up one run on five hits, no walks, and two hit batters. He struck out eight.

Quad Cities River Bandits SP Adrian Houser

Quad Cities River Bandits SP Adrian Houser

One of the players hit by Houser, LumberKings LF Wilton Martinez, drove in the lone run of the first game. He did it via an RBI double in the top of the 6th inning.

Clinton LumberKings LF Wilton Martinez takes off his helmet after making the last out of the 4th inning.

Clinton LumberKings LF Wilton Martinez takes off his helmet after making the third out of the 4th inning.

The only River Bandits hit in the first game came off the bat of RF Ryan Bottger, who doubled with one out in the bottom of the 6th inning.

Quad Cities River Bandits RF Ryan Bottger

Quad Cities River Bandits RF Ryan Bottger

The previous batter, 2B Marc Wik, walked and was thrown out at the plate while trying to score on Bottger’s double.

River Bandits 2B Marc Wik was thrown out at the plate by LumberKings RF Tyler O'Neill.

River Bandits 2B Marc Wik was thrown out at the plate by LumberKings RF Tyler O’Neill.

There was more offense in the second game, which the River Bandits won 6-4. The LumberKings scored three runs in the top of the 1st inning, but their starting pitcher, LHP Eddie Campbell, gave up six runs on 11 hits and two walks in five innings.

Clinton LumberKings SP Eddie Campbell

Clinton LumberKings SP Eddie Campbell

River Bandits 1B Chase McDonald went 3-for-3 with 2 RBI.

Quad Cities River Bandits 1B Chase McDonald

Quad Cities River Bandits 1B Chase McDonald

Before the postgame fireworks show began, River Bandits co-owner Dave Heller told the crowd that the team drew an average of 3,885 fans per game this season, a new record for the franchise.

Wild-card race updates

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers lost their game, and both the River Bandits and the Peoria Chiefs split their respective doubleheaders. Wisconsin leads the Western Division wild-card race, two games ahead of both Peoria and Quad Cities with three games left to play.

In the Eastern Division, the Great Lakes Loons took over the wild-card lead by a half-game over the Dayton Dragons, the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Lansing Lugnuts. The Bowling Green Hot Rods are one game behind the Loons.

*All photos by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Clinton LumberKings, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment

Dragons, TinCaps tied for Eastern Division wild-card lead

As I wrote yesterday, the race for the second-half Eastern Division wild-card spot in the Midwest League playoffs is a close five-team race. Now, with only four days left in the regular season, it’s even closer.

Here’s the short version: On Thursday the Fort Wayne TinCaps and the Lansing Lugnuts won, while the Dayton Dragons, the Great Lakes Loons and the Bowling Green Hot Rods lost. That means the Dragons and the TinCaps are now tied for the lead in the Eastern Division wild-card race. The other three teams are within a game of the co-leaders.

Of the three teams still in contention for the second-half Western Division wild-card spot, only the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers played. They beat the Burlington Bees 9-5 on a grand slam by Taylor Brennan, giving them a 2 1/2-game lead over the Peoria Chiefs and the Quad Cities River Bandits. Both Peoria and Quad Cities rained out Thursday and will play doubleheaders today.

The tarp was on the field before Thursday's game in Appleton, and it rained during part of the game, but the Timber Rattlers were able to get their game in. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

The tarp was on the field before Thursday’s game at Fox Cities Stadium, and it rained during the early innings, but the Timber Rattlers were able to get their game in. (Photo by Craig Wieczorkiewicz/The Midwest League Traveler)

In other Midwest League news:

Taylor Brennan’s grand slam was his third and Wisconsin’s seventh this season. The individual player record for a season is four, set by Burlington’s Peter Koegel in 1966. The team record is 10, which was set by the 1981 Wisconsin Rapids Twins.

Ronnie Richardson also hit a grand slam Thursday, not only propelling the TinCaps to victory, but belting it off Detroit Tigers reliever Luke Putkonen, who was making a rehab appearance with the West Michigan Whitecaps.

In that same game, Fernando Perez hit a solo home run, giving him 92 RBI this season — a new Fort Wayne franchise record. The old record of 91 RBI was set by current San Diego Padres OF Will Venable in 2006, when Fort Wayne’s team was still known as the Wizards.

The Kane County Cougars beat the Cedar Rapids Kernels 3-2 on Thursday, setting a new franchise record for wins in a season. Their 89th victory eclipsed the wins total of the 2001 team that won Kane County’s only Midwest League championship.

The Lake County Captains announced today that they have extended their player development contract with the Cleveland Indians through the 2016 season. The Captains have been an Indians affiliate since their inaugural season (2003); in fact, the franchise’s affiliation with the Indians dates back to 1991 when it was located in Columbus, Georgia.

The Oakland A’s sent 1B Nate Freiman and LHP Drew Pomeranz on optional assignments to the Beloit Snappers. The major-leaguers are not on rehabilitation assignments; rather, they were assigned to Beloit because they can return to the big-league club faster this way. Oakland’s Triple-A, Double-A and High-A teams all are playoff-bound, but the Snappers are not, so Freiman and Pomeranz can return to the A’s on Tuesday, the day after the Midwest League’s regular season ends. Normally they would have to spend 10 days in the minor leagues before they could be recalled, but that doesn’t apply if the player’s minor-league season ends prior to completion of the 10-day period.

Posted in 2014 Playoffs, Beloit Snappers, Bowling Green Hot Rods, Burlington Bees, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Dayton Dragons, Fort Wayne TinCaps, Great Lakes Loons, Kane County Cougars, Lake County Captains, Lansing Lugnuts, Midwest League, Peoria Chiefs, Quad Cities River Bandits, West Michigan Whitecaps, Wisconsin Timber Rattlers | Leave a comment