COMSTOCK PARK, MI - Thursday was a bittersweet night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
Despite extending their winning streak to a season-high seven games with a 2-0 shutout victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the West Michigan Whitecaps were officially eliminated from playoff contention by virtue of Great Lakes' 3-0 win over Dayton.
West Michigan (35-30, 68-67) continued their hottest stretch of the season with a second consecutive shutout victory, but will miss the post-season for a third straight year for the first time in franchise history. The Whitecaps will seek to close out the home portion of their 2013 schedule with a perfect homestand as they try to complete a four-game sweep against Fort Wayne (26-40, 69-66) on Friday night at Fifth Third Ballpark.
On Thursday, 7,420 fans were treated to another dazzling pitching performance as Montreal Robertson led a quartet of Whitecaps' pitchers in a combined three-hit shutout.
Making his final start of the season, Robertson (3-7) turned in his first scoreless outing since dealing five hitless innings in his 2013 debut back on April 5. The 23-year-old right-hander from Arkansas retired the first 10 batters he faced on his way to 5.2 shutout innings, allowing just three singles with one strikeout and one walk. Robertson repeatedly induced easy bouncing balls for his infielders and was breaking bats throughout the night, recording 10 of his 17 outs on the ground.
West Michigan scored both of their runs on four consecutive hits to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
Lance Durham started the rally with an opposite-field double that split the gap in left-center and advanced to third base on a single by Connor Harrell. Jason King and Dominic Ficociello each added run-scoring singles with a passed ball in between, staking the 'Caps to a 2-0 lead that proved to be enough.
Following Robertson's gem, Chad Smith took over with a runner on first and two outs in the sixth inning and dealt 1.1 scoreless frames without allowing a hit. The 23-year-old right-hander out of the University of Southern California has not allowed a run since July 17 and extended his scoreless innings streak to 19.1 frames, just three innings shy of Ian Ostlund's record from 2003.
Guido Knudson and Corey Knebel (15) chipped in with a scoreless inning apiece. Knebel worked the ninth to earn his 15th save in 16 tries since being taken by the Detroit Tigers with the 39th overall pick of the 2013 draft.
Bryan Rodriguez (2-8) suffered the loss despite a solid outing for Fort Wayne. After being activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, Rodriguez allowed two runs - one earned - on seven hits over six innings of work.
The Whitecaps play their final home game of the regular season on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. RHP Edgar De La Rosa (8-6, 5.77) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Zach Eflin (7-6, 2.73) of Fort Wayne as the Whitecaps seek a four-game sweep. Promotions include a Tiger Friday featuring Walt Terrell, a pre-game Living Baseball Card giveaway, Family Fare Fireworks and a "shirts off our backs" jersey giveaway. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.
Click here to view the box score.