Fort Wayne TinCaps (18-15) @ West Michigan Whitecaps (15-15)
LHP Logan Allen (2-1, 1.89) vs. LHP Matt Hall (3-0, 0.98)
Thursday, May 12 — Fifth Third Ballpark (Comstock Park, Mich.) — First Pitch 6:35 p.m. — Game 34
ABOUT WEDNESDAY: The TinCaps were swept in a doubleheader at Parkview Field against the Great Lakes Loons. Fort Wayne dropped the front end, 3-0, and the series finale, 5-0.
INDIVIDUAL LEAGUE LEADERS: TinCaps lead the MWL in…
· Batting Average: Austin Allen (.407) — 3rd in MiLB
· RBIs: Ty France (21*)
* Tied for league lead
BACK TO NORMAL: The TinCaps haven’t played a 9-inning game since Saturday’s 7-4 come-from-behind win over Kane County. The TinCaps haven’t played a 9-inning home game in 13 days, when they defeated Burlington, 7-5, on Friday, April 29.
CLASH OF THE ‘CAPS: Fort Wayne and West Michigan squared off in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division Championship Series in 2015, with the Whitecaps taking both meetings and, eventually, winning the Midwest League title. The TinCaps and Whitecaps will play 22 times in 2016, including 14 times at Parkview Field. Tonight’s game is the first of 8 matchups in the next 12 days.
BURKHART AND THE BEARS: TinCaps hitting coach Lance Burkhart was drafted in 1997 in the 15th round by the Montreal Expos out of Missouri State University. The St. Louis native played 8 season in the minor leagues. Tonight’s starting pitcher for the Whitecaps, left-hander Matt Hall, was drafted in the 6th round by the Tigers in June out of Missouri State. The southpaw led the NCAA in 2015 with 171 strikeouts and helped power the Bears to a 49-win season and the No. 8 national seed. Notable big leaguers who played at Missouri State include Bill Mueller, Ryan Howard, Brad Ziegler, Shawn Marcum and Ross Detwiler.
WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: After losing 6 of their first 7 1-run games this season, the TinCaps are 5-2 in 1-run games since, including Tuesday’s victory and a 5-4 win at Kane County on Friday. Fort Wayne’s 14 1-run games are the most in the Midwest League.
THE OTHER GUYS: At 15-15, West Michigan is 6th in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division. The Whitecaps (Detroit Tigers) are one of just 2 teams in the division with a losing record at home (7-9). After winning its series opener at Lake County on Monday, West Michigan dropped the final 2 meetings with the Captains. The Whitecaps’ .259 batting average ranks 4th in the Midwest League. Their 3.39 ERA is 10th. Top Tigers prospects, per MLB.com, on the Whitecaps include RHP Beau Burrows (#2), OF Jose Azocar (#18), RHP Sandy Baez (#20), RHP Gerson Moreno (#24) and C Arvicent Perez (#28).