MWL Playoff Update, Etc.
The first round of the Midwest League Playoffs concluded last night, so let’s see how my predictions have fared so far.
It turns out I couldn’t have been more right about the East Division, but I couldn’t have been more wrong about the West. Fort Wayne survived a scare and beat South Bend 5-4 on Cole Figueroa’s late two-run double last night, taking a series that was much closer than most people thought. Mark Haley’s Silver Hawks finally won a game at Parkview Field and pushed the TinCaps to the brink. They should be proud of that.
The Great Lakes Loons won, 3-2 in 10 innings to oust the West Michigan Whitecaps thanks to Jaime Pedroza’s blast. You’ll recall, Pedroza was my darkhorse for the second round. Looks like he’s showing up early. So, the Loons take on the TinCaps in the MWL East Division Championship Series starting tonight, just as I predicted.
Over in the West, it’s a very different story. The Burlington Bees are now 8-0 in the playoffs over their last two seasons following a clean sweep of the Kane County Cougars. I thought the Cougars would fare well with Kenny Smalley getting the game one start, but he served up two homers and exited early. It was all Bees after that (12-7, 4-0 wins) as Jim Gabella takes his club back to Brian Rupp territory, the West Division Championship Series.
It’ll be a rematch of the ’08 MWLWDCS as Cedar Rapids pulled off the stunning upset of offensive powerhouse Peoria. How did they take out the West’s best team? In classic Kernel style…seizing opportunities, capitalizing on miscues and winning in frustrating ways. The Chiefs lost 6-4 in 10 innings in game one, then had a disastrous bullpen lapse in game two as the Kernels loaded the bases on walks. Closer Chris Huseby tied the game on a bases-loaded walk and then hit Matt Crawford for the walk-off winner. Season over on a hit-by-pitch? That hurts Peoria far more than it did Crawford.
So, it’s Bees-Kernels Part Two: The Revenge. Since my pick for the West was Peoria, I’ll re-pick amongst these two teams. It’s really anybody’s guess between these clubs, especially in a three-game series. Burlington won last year, but I’ll go with the Kernels by virtue of their home-field advantage. Plus, the Bees have to lose a playoff game at some point, right?
Overall, I’m still sticking by the Loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooons. I like them over Fort Wayne and whoever comes out of the West.
On to LumberKings Alumni news. Outfielder Craig Gentry (’07) finally got a taste of big league baseball on September 6, going 0-for-1 with a groundout in his Major League debut with the Texas Rangers in Baltimore. The Rangers lost, 7-0 with Derek Holland (’08) falling to 7-10. Gentry has not appeared in a game since.
Former Kings’ manager Carlos Subero (’04-’05) has been called up to join Joe Torre’s coaching staff in Los Angeles. It’s fairly routine that extra minor league coaches get brought up this time of year, but it’s the first time for Carlos. Well deserved.
That’s all for now.