COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps fell behind early and never recovered on Sunday afternoon, ending the first half of the season with a 10-5 loss to the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Fifth Third Ballpark.
West Michigan (33-37) was led by 19-year-old prospect Danry Vasquez, who went 5-for-5 and raised his batting average 15 points to head into the All-Star break with a .285 clip. Fort Wayne (43-26), who already clinched the Eastern Division's first-half Wild Card berth, finished their third-best half in franchise history behind only the two halves from their 94-win championship club in 2009.
Whitecaps' starter Edgar De La Rosa gave up four runs in the top of the first inning and four more in the fourth before being removed from the game.
After retiring the first batter of the afternoon, De La Rosa allowed the next five hitters to reach base as the TinCaps took a 4-0 lead with just one out. Things got worse in the fourth, when the first four Fort Wayne batters of the inning hit safely and the visitors seized a commanding 8-1 lead.
De La Rosa (3-2) was charged with eight runs on nine hits over 3.1 innings in the loss. The 6-foot-6 right-hander from the Dominican Republic has now given up eight runs in each of his last two starts, a rough stretch that has seen his ERA jump from 4.70 to 7.11.
Vasquez's big day accounted for half of the Whitecaps' 10 hits as West Michigan tried to chip away at the sizeable deficit. The 'Caps loaded the bases with nobody out on three separate occasions, but could only muster a single run out of each opportunity. They stranded 13 runners in the ballgame.
Meanwhile, the West Michigan pitching staff allowed a season-high 17 hits and surrendered double-digit runs for the third time in the last 10 days. Prior to June 7, the Whitecaps had not given up 10 or more runs in a ballgame through their first 57 contests of the season.
Justin Hancock (5-1) earned the win for Fort Wayne. The Midwest League's ERA leader allowed two runs - one earned - on five hits over five innings.
The Whitecaps will be off for the next three days for the Midwest League All-Star break before opening the second half of the 2013 season on the road with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch against the Great Lakes Loons on Thursday night. The next home game at Fifth Third Ballpark is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26, at 7:00 p.m. against the Dayton Dragons and will feature a celebration of the 1998 championship squad as well as post-game fireworks. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
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