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Full Count

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Notebook: TinCaps 7, LumberKings 5

Alberth Martinez finally got the breakthrough Fort Wayne was looking for in a 7-5 win against Clinton. Until then, a speedy defense had shut down Fort Wayne.

TinCaps hitting coach Morgan Burkhart and manager Jose Valentin were pleased with the team's approach at the plate through most of the six-game homestand. Fort Wayne was making contact, and hard contact at that.

The problem was, those hits kept going right to the LumberKings.

Valentin said his team had "no luck" Monday in a 6-2 loss to Clinton. In this game, it got a huge stroke of luck once, but didn't have much going for it throughout the contest.

But Burkhart is pleased with the TinCaps' approach and excited to watch his guys develop as the season goes on.

"They need to get at-bats under their belt," Burkhart. "We could be better at working starting pitchers. I like the aggressiveness, but I think at times we need to be aggressive, but with better pitches.

"Strike or ball isn't as important as good pitch to hit. If we do that, we're gonna run the starters out of games a little earlier, probably do some more damage against them. And if we keep that approach, we'll win more ballgames."

Valentin wants more on mound

Valentin noticed a dip in his team's defense during the series against Clinton, and although the TinCaps won two of three, he said it was frustrating at times.

The errors and runs, he said, mostly fall on some poor outings by his pitchers. The young arms, especially, need to gain some confidence.

"When you're not being aggressive early in the count, we can't afford to let you go up there," he said. "The thing is, sometimes it makes your defense behind you be lazy and not make a play for you because when you're working behind a count most of the time, the guys behind you get bored there.

"They don't know when you're gonna be consistent and throw strikes. 'Ball one, ball two, ball three -- here we again. When's this guy going to be throwing strikes?' They want you to throw strikes so they can help make the play."

Too many members of the rotation, Valentin said, have taken a one-on-one approach on the mound and tried to strike everyone out during games. As a former infielder, he knows how difficult it can be to stay focused in the field during long counts.

It's the fielder's job to do so, but it is always helpful when the action is flowing smoothly.

"Sometimes they get caught -- they're flat-footed, they're not ready for that pitch to be hit," Valentin said. "I played defense, too. I liked to see pitchers work fast, throw strikes. That way, I keep my game in motion and I'll be ready at all times."

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