FORT WAYNE, IN - The West Michigan Whitecaps celebrated the Fourth of July with a stellar pitching performance on Friday night, silencing a huge Independence Day crowd of 9,182 in a 3-1 victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Parkview Field.
West Michigan (9-6, 50-35) led wire-to-wire and started their 10-game road trip by winning for the sixth time in their last eight games. Starting pitcher Buck Farmer combined with a pair of lefty relievers - including rehabbing Major Leaguer Ian Krol - to stifle the Fort Wayne (5-10, 35-49) offense as well as their festive crowd.
Farmer (8-5) dealt six scoreless innings of work, scattering five hits without issuing a walk and fanning four. The Midwest League strikeout leader increased his league-leading punch-out total to 104, but did most of his damage on the ground by recording 11 of his 18 outs on groundballs. Farmer allowed just one baserunner to reach scoring position and threw 56 of his 78 pitches for strikes, moving into a tie for second in the league with eight wins.
While Farmer kept the TinCaps off the scoreboard, the Whitecaps' offense quickly built their lead.
Three consecutive two-out singles started the scoring in the top of the first, culminating with a run-scoring hit by Wynton Bernard for a 1-0 lead. Willy Adames led off the second with a triple and promptly scored on a groundout by Jeff Holm, while Javier Betancourt added a two-out triple in the fifth that scored another run for a 3-0 advantage.
The triple by Adames was his 12th of the year, moving him into a tie with South Bend's Andrew Velazquez for the league-lead in three-base hits.
After Farmer finished his six-inning gem, the Whitecaps got a boost from the parent club when Krol took the mound in the bottom of the seventh. The hard-throwing lefty worked a 1-2-3 inning with a strikeout to begin his rehab assignment from the Detroit Tigers, throwing seven of his 11 pitches for strikes and looking sharp with both his fastball and curveball. Krol pitched in a Midwest League game for the first time since his All-Star campaign with the Kane County Cougars in 2010 and took the mound at Parkview Field for the first time since the All-Star Game that summer. The Detroit reliever is expected to throw another inning on Sunday and is eligible to return from the Tigers' disabled list early next week.
Fort Wayne mounted their only serious threat against Joe Mantiply in the eighth. Dustin Peterson doubled home a two-out run to break up the shutout and Jake Bauers drew a walk, but Mantiply got slugging clean-up hitter Franmil Reyes to end the inning with a soft groundout. Mantiply came back out and retired the side in order with two strikeouts in the ninth, locking down his team-leading seventh save of the year.
The Whitecaps continue their 10-game road trip on Saturday night with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch against the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Parkview Field. RHP Austin Kubitza (6-1, 2.37) is scheduled to pitch for West Michigan against RHP Cody Hebner (N/A) of Fort Wayne. The next home game at Fifth Third Ballpark will be on Wednesday, July 16, at 7:00 p.m. featuring the popular Aces in the Outfield promotion and post-game Family Fare fireworks. 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.