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ALL-STARS LEAD 'CAPS TO HOMESTAND-OPENING WIN06/06/2012 10:42 PM ET
COMSTOCK PARK, MI - The West Michigan Whitecaps continued their climb up the Eastern Division standings on Wednesday night, opening a six-game homestand with a 6-1 victory over the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Fifth Third Ballpark.
West Michigan (29-30) has become the Midwest League's hottest team, winning eight of their last nine games to move from eight games below.500 to legitimate playoff contention. With only 11 games remaining in the first half of the season, the 'Caps have jumped over three teams during the hot stretch and trail only Bowling Green and South Bend in their pursuit of the first-half Wild Card spot.
After falling behind early on Wednesday, the Whitecaps' pitching was tremendous the rest of the way.
Starter Kyle Ryan (2-2) allowed hits to the first three batters that he faced in the top of the first, but minimized the damage with an inning-ending double play and never looked back. The 20-year-old southpaw scattered seven hits over seven strong innings, allowing just one run and striking out six without issuing a walk.
The West Michigan offense was led by its trio of All-Stars.
Eugenio Suarez, Steven Moya and Dean Green each went 2-for-4, with Moya and Green notching two RBI apiece. Leadoff man Brandon Loy was also 2-for-4 and Jason Krizan reached base in all four of his plate appearances as the Whitecaps pounded out 12 hits and went 8-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
The home team erased a 1-0 deficit with five hits in the bottom of the third, including three straight run-scoring singles by Loy, Suarez and Moya.
A two-out single by Green in the fifth stretched the lead to 4-1, and back-to-back RBI-doubles by Moya and Green in the seventh capped the 6-1 victory.
All-Star reliever Michael Torrealba worked the final two innings and struck out four to close out the ballgame, lowering his ERA to 1.78 and increasing his gaudy strikeout total to 37 over 30.1 innings of work.
Fort Wayne's Frank Garces (1-4) suffered the loss after allowing four runs on eight hits over 4.2 innings.
The Whitecaps continue their final homestand of the first half on Wednesday night at 7:00 p.m. with the second game of a three-game series against the Fort Wayne TinCaps. RHP Brennan Smith (1-3, 3.71) is scheduled to take the hill for the Whitecaps against RHP Adys Portillo (1-3, 2.73) of the TinCaps. The ballgame will feature an Altogas Thrifty Thursday with a post-game concert by The Bimini Brothers, and the first 1,000 fans through the gates will receive a "Producer Joe" bobblehead doll from the Free Beer and Hot Wings morning show. Group and individual tickets can be reserved by calling the Whitecaps front office at 616-784-4131 or visiting www.whitecapsbaseball.com.