Fort Wayne, Indiana
After a rain cancellation Saturday and a day off on Sunday, the TinCaps returned to action Monday, starting a seven-game homestand. Although Padres’ prospect MacKenzie Gore faced some rocky moments in three innings, the TinCaps’ defense, hitting, and relief pitching combined for a 5-3 victory over the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Gore’s third start of the season—and second since returning from the DL—started with a rough first inning, as he gave up three runs on three hits.
With one out, Whitecaps’ second baseman Alexis Garcia bounced a grounder off of third base, allowing him to reach first safely. Dylan Rosa then took Gore deep, hitting a two-run homer to right field to give the Whitecaps the early lead. Cleanup hitter Colby Bortles then reached first base on a third strike that made it past catcher Luis Campusano, and Reynaldo Rivera sent a deep double off the left-center wall to bring in Bortles for a 3-0 lead. Gore retired the next two batters to end the inning.
The Whitecaps threatened again in the second and third, but standout defensive plays prevented the Whitecaps from scoring.
In the top of the second, with two outs and leadoff man Cole Peterson on first, Garcia again ripped a shot down the third-base line and into left field. As Peterson sprinted home, trying to score from first base, left-fielder Jack Suwinski launched a throw with laser accuracy to Campusano, giving the catcher time to set up, forcing Peterson into a head-first dive that could not avoid the tag. In the third, Bortles was on first with a one-out hit when Rivera had a fly out to Jeisson Rosario in center. Rosario relayed the ball to shortstop Gabriel Arias, who fired it to Jalen Washington at first, catching Bortles off-guard to record an 8-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Although the Whitecaps jumped to an early lead, the TinCaps’ offense responded to regain the lead 4-3 by the end of the third inning. In the first, Esteury Ruiz drew a one-out walk and moved to third on a hit-and-run single by right-fielder Tirso Ornelas. Campusano followed with a single to right-center to score Ruiz and move Ornelas to third. Playing in just his third game for the TinCaps, DH Luis Almanzar hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Ornelas and bring the TinCaps within one.
In the second, Rosario—the TinCaps’ leading hitter—hit a two-out single to right. Ruiz followed with a sharp liner to the left field corner that allowed Rosario to come around all the way from first to tie the game. Almanzar recorded his first hit, an infield single up the middle, to lead off the third, and then moved to second on a passed ball. After a fly out by Justin Lopez, Arias laid a perfect bunt down the third base line, allowing Almanzar to move safely to third while leaving no play at first. With runners at the corners, Suwinski grounded back to the pitcher, but an errant throw to second pulled the fielder off the base, allowing Almanzar to score and giving the TinCaps a 4-3 lead.
The TinCaps added an insurance run in the eighth, thanks to three consecutive Whitecaps errors. With two outs, Suwinski again reached base on an error after Peterson mishandled a grounder. The next batter, Jalen Washington also hit a routine grounder to Peterson, who simply let the ball scoot under his mitt to put runners on first and second. Rosario hit a grounder that Bortles relayed in time to first, but Rivera dropped the throw, and Suwinski sprinted home.
While Gore’s start had highs and lows—he struck out three, but also gave up the first-inning homer and had several pitches in the dirt—TinCaps’ relievers Mason Thompson and Travis Radke held the Whitecaps scoreless in the last six innings of the game. Thompson was particularly impressive through his four innings of work. He allowed only one hit while striking out six, including four in a row over the fifth and sixth innings. After walking two in a row to start the eighth, manager Anthony Contreras brought in Travis Radke, who retired the next three batters, striking out two. Although Radke allowed two two-out singles in the top of the ninth, he forced Dylan Rosa into a grounder to end the game.
The TinCaps continue the homestand on Tuesday. Osvaldo Hernandez (2-2. 3.24 ERA) is expected to start.
Game Notes: Announced attendance was 3,438…Eight of nine TinCaps batters had at least one hit, and all nine reached base in the game….Additionally, the TinCaps sent at least four batters to the plate in every inning and had more than five batters in half of their eight innings….Three TinCaps had multiple hits: Campusano and Lopez were 2-for-4 with two singles each and a walk and hit-by-pitch, respectively; Ruiz was also 2-for-4 with a walk–both hits were doubles.
Ken A. Bugajski lives and works in Fort Wayne, Indiana. An English professor by trade, he spends many summer nights with his wife and daughter at Parkview Field, home of the TinCaps.