Thursday, April 18, 2013

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Hello! I'm Slavko Bekovic, Jesse's broadcasting and media relations assistant for the 2013 season. You'll be hearing from me from time to time, but more on that another time...

It's April in the Midwest League. Meaning, the weather has not been too kind to baseball.

The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers lost their 6th home opening today, a few of which were because of snow. Quad Cities, which has lost three home games already, is now bracing for flooding of Modern Woodmen Park on the banks of the Mississippi River out in Davenport, Iowa.

In fact, as of this morning, only three of the 16 Midwest League teams have yet to lose a home opening; Fort Wayne, Kane County and Lake County.

Here in Lansing, we've seen three of the four seasons in the last week. Sadly, baseball is a summer sport, and that is the season we have yet to have the pleasure of experiencing.

Thursday's Crosstown Showdown against Michigan State, presented by Auto Owner's Insurance, was postponed to May 1st, pushing back a game against the Timber Rattlers into a home doubleheader on May 2nd. Sorry, Wisconsin.

That's one.

The Lugnuts' Midwest League home opener started on time Friday night against the South Bend Silver Hawks. The game went to extra innings before being suspended in the middle of the twelfth, to be resumed Saturday before the regularly scheduled game at 2:05.

Not too bad, right?

Well...Saturday morning's low 30's temperature, 25+ mph wind gusts and freezing rain postponed all the baseball even further, including the continuation of Friday's game. The Lugnuts and Silver Hawks will resume their 12th inning affair on June 11th, before a regularly scheduled 7:05 game.

By the way, the Lugnuts owned a 4-2 lead in the ninth inning and had South Bend down to their last strike before going into extras tied 4-4. That score still stands. And will for 54 more days.

Saturday's original game is now a doubleheader at Cooley Law School Stadium the following day, June 12th.

Still following? Good.

Much to the joy of everyone involved, the Lugnuts and Silver Hawks had an originally scheduled doubleheader (two 7-inning games) on Sunday, starting at 1:05 p.m. Those started in a snow delay. That turned into a sleet delay, which gave way to a rain delay.

Hey, that's snow! 

Best part about the snow was seeing the Latin players out on the field, enamored by the snow. For some of them, it was the first time they'd ever seen it. So, naturally, they ran out on to the field and caught snowflakes in their mouths.

Finally, the doubleheader started at 2:45.

Nothing exciting happened, really. Former Grand Valley State pitcher (Go Lakers!) Kyle Schepel no-hit the Lugnuts in game 1, a 1-0 South Bend win. And then their bats woke up in game 2 en route to an 8-2 win and a twin bill sweep of the Lugnuts. Lansing's losing streak extended to five games, passing last season's longest losing skid of four games.

But, hey! This is about the weather! Sunday actually turned into a gorgeous afternoon with clear skies and blistering temperatures up to 55 degrees!

The Lugnuts were off Monday (Jesse Goldberg-Strassler's birthday!) and got paid a visit by the West Michigan Whitecaps, starting a three game series Tuesday. That game went off without a hitch. The Lugnuts won 4-0 in a full nine inning game without any weather delays.

Imagine that!

So there we were, Wednesday evening, getting ready for game two of the series against the Whitecaps. No surprise, the tarp was on the field, the game was in a rain delay, and then of course, it got postponed midway through our pregame show.

That brings us to today. Thursday, April 18th, 2013.

Last night's game was supposed to be made up today as part of a doubleheader, starting at 6:05 p.m. It's 4:35 p.m., and this is what my weather app looks like:

How about mixing in a little sunshine, eh?

I don't recall seeing 100% thunderstorms across the board. Lo and behold, tonight's doubleheader has been postponed. The games will be made up between June 8th and June 10th at West Michigan's Fifth Third Ballpark.

So...eight games scheduled in Lansing so far and Tuesday's game was the only one to avoid being impacted by weather.

West Michigan, which had just ONE game rained out all of 2012, has already had four this season.

Not cool, Mother Nature.

And here is another update as well: Fort Wayne just sent out a press release announcing that their game against South Bend has been rained out. The good news is the Lugnuts head to Fort Wayne tomorrow! That should be read that with thick, heavy sarcasm, by the way.

So there you go, two teams still standing. Kane County and Lake County.

Give it time.

# # #

For updates on the Lugnuts and other things all season long, you can follow me on Twitter: @SBekovic

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Clearly, Kellen Sweeney needs to stop singling in the 9th inning

Infielder Kellen Sweeney
Two posts during the season, each one following a defeat, haha!

Well, Wil Browning is now 0-2 out of the pen, although he pitched far better last night in Bowling Green and looks like he could be really tough on batters down the road.  Meanwhile, Kellen Sweeney singled in the ninth inning in each defeat -- around three strikeouts of his teammates.  Ah, coincidence!

Two key plays last night in the Lugnuts' 4-3 loss:

   1.  In the top of the 6th, Emilio Guerrero was picked off third base by Bowling Green catcher Justin O'Conner.  A little later on, Gustavo Pierre homered, tying the score at 3-3.  But... it could've been 4-3.

   2.  In the bottom of the 6th, with a runner at first, Lansing catcher Santiago Nessy pounced on a dribbler (off the bat of O'Conner) and fired it into center field gunning for a force out.  The error led directly to Bowling Green taking a 4-3 lead.

And that was the final score:  Hot Rods 4, Lugnuts 3.


It was a rough start by the Lugs' Daniel Norris, but he's getting his feet beneath him.  All things considered, allowing only three runs on eight baserunners (six hits and two walks) plus a wild pitch shows a pretty good job of limiting damage.

On the bright side, everyone around Norris has come out of the gates strongly.  Roberto Osuna, Javier Avendano, Taylor Cole, Alonzo Gonzalez... that's one heck of a debut week.

Early one today... game time 10:35 a.m. local (Central) time.

Friday, April 5, 2013

One Day In

The Lugnuts opened up their 18th Midwest League season last night losing 5-4 at Lake County.

On the bright side... Welcome back, Balbino Fuenmayor!  The great Balbino scored two runs, walked, singled, and hit a mighty home run to left field.
pitcher Javier Avendaño

Most Impressive:  Lugnuts starting pitcher Javier Avendaño who limited Lake County to just two hits and one unearned run, striking out six Captains in five innings, and setting down the last seven batters he faced.  "El Mayor" departed the game with a 4-1 lead, with everything looking good in the Lugs' favor.  But then...

Not as Impressive:  
Lansing relievers Daniel Norris and Wil Browning struggled, allowing four runs in the 6th and 7th innings, as the Lugs' lead disappeared.  Neither one had command of his pitches, which -- to be honest -- is expected of pitchers in their first outing of the year on a cold night in April.  Expect both to be far better as the season goes on.

Don't Overlook:  Left fielder Ronnie Melendez was injured on his very first at-bat, leading off Vancouver Canadians Opening Day 2012, breaking his ring finger, and causing him to miss the rest of the season.  Last night, he went 2-for-4 with an RBI single.  What a difference a year makes!

Intriguing:  6'4 shortstop Emilio Guerrero also collected a pair of hits in four at-bats yesterday, including a ringing double to left-center.  This could very well be a breakout year for the 20-year-old.