Pregame Meal: Saturday, June 29th

By Matt Appel (@mattappel)

In the words of the great Ernie Banks, “Let’s play two seven inning games!” Okay, while that may be a slight alteration of the original quote, the point is the same, as the ValleyCats are Tigers are slated to play a doubleheader tonight, after last night’s rain out. First pitch of Game #1 is scheduled for 5:30, with the start of Game #2 coming roughly 30 minutes after the final out of opener.

-This is the first double header played here at The Joe in quite some time. After an entire slate of games last year that came without a regular season postponement, which at this level, is awfully incredible, you have to go back to August 29th of 2011 to find the last twin-billing the ‘Cats played at home. That day, the ValleyCats lost two games to the Lowell Spinners. Not since August 12th, 2011 vs Hudson Valley has Tri-City swept a double header at home.

-Both teams have the same lineup for Game 1 as they had posted for last night’s game to save me time in order to keep things consistant in terms of playing time. The ‘Cats lineup for Game 2, however, is slightly different from any lineup they’ve sent out this year. For this first time in 2013, Tony Kemp will not be in the lineup for the second game, as Chan Moon will leadoff and play second. The ‘Cats shook up the pitching rotation slightly as well, as the duo of Tanner Bushue/Adrian Houser has been split up, and each one will start a game tonight, with Bushue going in Game 1. This move pushes back Michael Feliz/Andrew Thurman until tomorrow’s game.

-The starter of the second game for the Tigers, Kevin Ziomek, was college teammates at Vanderbilt with Conrad Gregor and Tony Kemp. During BP, I went up to Gregor and asked him for a scouting report on the 2nd round pick of the Tigers this year, and he gave me this: 88-92 with the fastball, hard slider at 78, and solid changeup. He also added that he “doesn’t field his position well, or at least he doesn’t like to”, so maybe look for a bunt here or there while Ziomek is on the mound, which might not be for more than an inning.

-The roster for the Tigers is a family-oriented one. Ben Verlander, Game 1′s first basemen, has a brother pitching in the major leagues, Justin, that you might be familiar with. Patrick Leyland, an infielder for Connecticut, is hoping to one day play with Father Jim up in Detroit as a manager-player combination a la Cal Ripken Sr. and Cal Ripken Jr. While he doesn’t have any relatives (that we know of) affilaited with the Tigers organization, another player of note for the Tigers is Jonathan Crawford, a pitcher who was Detroit’s 1st round selection this year.

-Interestingly, Dan Gulbransen was out early today taking ground balls at first base. From our knowledge, Gulbransen has never played first base, but with only two players on the roster (Conrad Gregor and Michael Martinez) who can play first, the Astros instructors currently in town decided to throw Dan out there and see what he can do. No word if there are any current plans to play Dan over at first any time soon. Gulbransen, on an un-related note, enters this double-header on a six-game hitting streak. He is in both lineups for Ed Romero tonight.

-Tanner Bushue shut down the Tigers the last time he threw against them on June 23rd, so we’ll see if he can replicate that success again. Four scoreless innings earned Tanner the win in a game that was 0-0 going into the 10th inning, before the ‘Cats scored five to win.

-Mark Appel Watch 2013: A slight update to pass along. An article posted on Astros.com reports that Houston GM Jeff Luhnow said the first overall pick in this year’s draft is “expected to remain in Florida a couple of more weeks before reporting to Tri-City.” What exactly that means, who knows. But, it is the first piece of news we’ve really gotten about Appel since his press conference, so take it for what it’s worth.

-Batting Practice Hero: Ernesto Genoves hit a loooong home run to the deepest part of the park today, left-center field. “Geno” has shown occasional pop in BP this year, and the shot he drove today is the longest for any right-handed hitter in batting practice this year. The Venezuelan catcher starts behind the plate in the first game tonight.

Lineup(s)

Game 1

2B Tony Kemp

CF D’Andre Toney

1B Conrad Gregor

LF Dan Gulbransen

DH Michael Martinez

RF Ronnie Mitchell

C Ernesto Genoves

3B Ryan Dineen

SS Chan Moon

RHP Tanner Bushue

Game 2

2B Chan Moon

CF James Ramsay

DH Conrad Gregor

RF Dan Gulbransen

1B Michael Martinez

C Luis Alvarez

LF Jon Kemmer

3B Ryan Dineen

SS Thomas Lindauer

RHP Adrian Houser

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