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.
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.