The West Michigan Whitecaps were coming off a rather disappointing split with the Dayton Dragons when they traveled an hour east, looking to get back on track against their rivals in the Lansing Lugnuts, the High-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics, in a six- game series last week.
The Whitecaps wasted little time trying to make them feel at home in the series opener on Tuesday. Bryant Packard’s sixth home run of the season in the top of the first helped the club jump out to a 4-0 lead. West Michigan poured it on some more the following inning, with Jake Holton going yard for the 12th time this season, with Ben Malgeri hitting a grand slam, part of a six-run frame. The Lugnuts started to comeback, though, and the ‘Caps led 10-8 heading into the eighth. However, they were able to answer with five runs in the inning, including Corey Joyce hitting a three-run shot, and the Whitecaps were able to bunker down from there, taking home a 15-8 win.
Holton, Packard, Joyce and Josh Crouch all had multi-hit games for West Michigan. Joyce ended up going 2-4 with a pair of runs, while Packard scored three while going 3-4 at the plate. Crouch and Holton each had two hits, while both drove in two in the win.
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MADDEN MOVING UP
Ty Madden certainly did not have a star performance on Tuesday night, but it was enough to pick up his sixth win of the season, and enough to earn a promotion to Double-A Erie. The Detroit Tigers’ No. 4 prospect has certainly been one of the ‘Caps best pitchers this season, posting a 6-4 record, a 3.10 earned-run-average with 84 strikeouts.
MAULED IN A MATINEE
The second game of the series saw a very strange afternoon affair for the Whitecaps. They went out in front in the fourth inning thanks to Trei Cruz’s seventh home run of the season. However, Lansing came back with a trio of runs in the fifth to take the lead, five more in the following frame, highlighted a home run from Denzel Clarke. That proved to be more than enough for the Lugnuts, as they ended up pulling away with an 8-1 win.
It was another great rehab start for top-end prospect Joey Wentz. The lefty tossed three scoreless innings, striking out one while allowing just a single hit. West Michigan left 10 runners on base in the game, and went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Ben Malgeri and Austin Murr each registered two hits in the game for the ‘Caps.
JOYCE GOES YARD
It looked like it was going to be an excellent pitcher’s duel on Thursday, as the Whitecaps’ Keider Montero and Lugnuts pitcher Joey Estes allowed just one run apiece in their respective five-inning starts. However, business picked up late in the contest, when West Michigan took the lead in the seventh, thanks to Jose King’s fourth home run of the season. After the ‘Caps scored a couple of insurance runs in the eighth, Corey Joyce capped the night off with his second home run of the game, helping the Whitecaps to a 5-1 victory.
Joyce had been on a tear through Thursday night, with nine of his last 10 hits going for extra bases. Josh Crouch and Austin Murr each had two-hit performances for the ‘Caps, with Crouch driving in a run and scoring himself. Gabriel Sequeira ended up being credited with his third win of the campaign, pitching a solid 1.1 innings in relief.
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SLUGGING IT OUT
Balls were flying every which way in the fourth game of the series on Friday night. The teams combined for four home runs in the contest, with Lansing’s Max Muncy hitting one in the opening inning, where the ‘Nuts took a 4-2 lead. They were up 5-3 heading into the sixth inning, where the ‘Caps batted around, bringing home seven runs, including a three-run homer from Trei Cruz. The next inning, Izaac Pacheco, who was making his debut with West Michigan since getting called up from Lakeland, played longball for the first time in the club, giving the Whitecaps a six-run lead. The Lugnuts came with four runs of their own in the bottom of the seventh, but the ‘Caps would settle it down from there, pulling out an 11-9 victory.
Cruz, who batted leadoff Friday night, ended up going 3-4 at the plate with a pair of runs scored and four RBIs. Corey Joyce, Bryant Packard and Jake Holton each drove in runs, while picking up two hits on the night. While Gio Arriera was awarded his eighth win of the season, Andre Magno came in the ninth to shut down Lansing, picking up his ninth save in 2022.
The Whitecaps and Lugnuts went hit-for-hit in the fifth game of the series on Saturday. West Michigan struck first with Izaac Pacheco’s second homer in as many games, before the Lugnuts scored four runs in the second inning. After the teams traded runs, the ‘Caps trailed 5-3 heading into the seventh. That was when West Michigan put up a four-spot of their own to take the lead. Austin Murr hit his second home run of the season in the top of the ninth, while Max Muncy hit one of his own in the bottom-half of the frame, but Jared Tobey was able to settle things down, closing out an 8-6 win over Lansing, helping the Whitecaps clinch a series win. Tobey earned his second save of the season with the win.
Murr, Pacheco, Esney Chacon and Josh Crouch each had two-hit nights for the ‘Caps, with Crouch hitting his eighth home run of the season in the fourth inning, driving in a total of four runs in the win.
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A LITTLE SHORTER THAN USUAL
Bad weather played a factor in the series finale on Sunday. Lansing jumped out in front with a couple of runs in the second inning, thanks to a Lazaro Armenteros home run, before the teams traded runs in the fifth inning. That was when a thunderstorm went through the middle of Michigan. The game had to be called off in the bottom of the fifth. Since at least half the game was played, the score became official, with Lansing taking home the 3-1 win.
The game was played in 67 minutes, which became a new Whitecaps record for fastest game played in franchise history. Trei Cruz drove in Ben Malgeri for the team’s only run. Carlos Guzman pitched all four-plus innings for West Michigan, and was handed his sixth loss of the season.
CAPS OF THE WEEK
Josh Crouch himself had quite the series for West Michigan, going 7-20 against the ‘Nuts, scoring six times, while driving in nine runs. He also hit his eighth home run of the season in the win on Saturday.
West Michigan (56-46) was able to increase their lead in Midwest League East Division. Now with a 25-11 record in the Second Half, they sit four games clear of the Lake County Captains, and hold the best record in entire league, two games ahead of the South Bend Cubs.
The ‘Caps will stay on the road this week, as they begin a six-game series with the Beloit Sky Carp (50-51), the High-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, on Tuesday. Beloit is having a better start to the Second Half of the season, but sit second in the West Division with a 19-17 record, four games back of the Cubs. The Sky Carp are coming off taking four of six of the Cedar Rapids Kernals.
These two teams met at LMCU Ballpark back in May, with the Whitecaps beating Beloit four times in a six-game series.
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UPCOMING SCHEDULE (Home games in BOLD)
- August 9 @ Beloit Sky Carp (7:35 pm ET)
- August 10 @ Beloit Sky Carp (7:35 pm ET)
- August 11 @ Beloit Sky Carp (7:35 pm ET)
- August 12 @ Beloit Sky Carp (7:35 pm ET)
- August 13 @ Beloit Sky Carp (7:35 pm ET)
- August 14 @ Beloit Sky Carp (2:05 pm ET)
You can watch and listen to the Whitecaps all season on MiLB.TV
Check out the Midwest League standings and results here