COMSTOCK PARK, MI - During the first half of the 2014 season, the West Michigan Whitecaps rode the Midwest League's best pitching staff to their first playoff berth since 2010 and their first division title since 2007.
In the first game of the second half, it was the offense that stole the show with 15 unanswered runs, leading the Whitecaps to a record-tying 10th straight home win and a 15-3 rout of the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Thursday at Fifth Third Ballpark.
West Michigan (1-0, 42-29) has not lost a home game since May 21, equaling a franchise-record home winning streak that has stood since 2000. The Whitecaps can break the record when the homestand continues with a split doubleheader against Fort Wayne (0-1, 30-40) on Saturday.
Thursday's blowout was keyed by a 16-hit attack. Eight different Whitecaps drove in runs and six different batters registered multiple hits. Jeff Holm was one of three players to notch a three-hit game, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run.
Francisco Contreras also came up big, going 3-for-3 with three RBI and erasing an early deficit with a solo homer in the bottom of the third. The longball was his first in the Midwest League and tied the score at 1-1.
West Michigan seized control during a five-run outburst in the fourth that was aided by three TinCaps' errors. Five of the first six batters in the inning hit safely to chase starter Erik Cabrera from the game. Run-scoring infield singles by Dominic Ficociello and Wynton Bernard put the Whitecaps ahead before Willy Adames added an RBI-single and Contreras lifted a sacrifice fly to push the score to a comfortable 6-1 margin.
But the offense did not stop there.
After Holm added a two-run homer in the fifth and Javier Betancourt ripped a two-run double and scored in the sixth, the lead swelled to 11-1. The 'Caps added four more runs by the time Fort Wayne could record the first out of the seventh inning, stretching the lead to 15-1. The TinCaps tacked on some late runs in garbage time to reach the 15-4 final.
Chad Green (2-2) dominated his five innings on the mound for the win. The only man he allowed to reach scoring position was the first batter of the game, who singled, stole second and scored on a single with the infield in to give Fort Wayne an early 1-0 lead. Green responded by setting down 12 of the next 13 hitters he faced. The right-hander out of Louisville allowed one run on three hits with four strikeouts and faced just one batter over the minimum.
Cabrera (2-5) took the loss for Fort Wayne. After allowing just one of the first eight hitters he faced to reach base, the 23-year-old right-hander recorded just two outs against the next eight batters and was chased from the game with six runs - five earned - on seven hits over 3.1 innings.
The Whitecaps take Friday off before continuing their series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps on Saturday with a split doubleheader at Fifth Third Ballpark. RHP Jonathon Crawford (3-2, 2.58) is scheduled to pitch against RHP Ronald Herrera (5-4, 3.19) at 1:00 p.m. in the opener while RHP Buck Farmer (6-5, 3.00) will take on RHP Ronald Herrera (5-4, 3.19) at 7:00 p.m. in the nightcap. Season, 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.