FORT WAYNE – Fort Wayne went 18-4 to finish second in the Midwest League Eastern Division after the fist half of the season.
The second half has brought the TinCaps back to reality.
Fort Wayne lost 12-6 to West Michigan on Sunday at Parkview Field. It broke a three-game losing streak for the Whitecaps (35-39) and gave the TinCaps (44-29) a 1-3 record in the second half.
We still got a lot of things to prove, especially offensively, Fort Wayne manager Jose Valentin said. We can’t afford to go play bad in the second half and go into the postseason playing the same way. Sooner or later, we gotta change this, turn it around in a hurry.
Through those four games, Fort Wayne has been outscored 25-9. And for just the second time since May 24-25, the TinCaps dropped consecutive games.
After a tremendous end to the first half, which included a stretch of 15 wins and one loss, the slow start to the second seems surreal.
We’re just kind of leaving some loose ends, TinCaps second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum said. We’re not finishing our at-bats. We’re not finishing on the mound, defensively, that kind of thing.
West Michigan unleashed a barrage of 15 hits, but started its scoring thanks to an error in the top of the third inning. After a dropped fly ball by center fielder Brian Adams, what should have been a 1-2-3 inning and a 3-0 TinCaps lead turned into an eight at-bat frame and a 3-run tie.
Three innings later, it was 9-3.
It turned ugly after one mistake, Valentin said. After that, everything went south. It was a different game. Who knows what could have happened if we made that play?
Fort Wayne had four hits and three runs in the first inning but managed just five hits in the final eight innings. Three of the TinCaps’ runs came in the eighth, when West Michigan had a nine-run lead.
Shortstop Jared Reaves went 4 for 5 for the Whitecaps, and right fielder Jake Stewart launched a three-run home run in the sixth inning to widen the margin.
They were just fastball-aggressive tonight, said reliever Joe Church, who gave up six hits and four earned runs in 1 2/3 innings. They were coming out swinging, and if you made a bad pitch, they were on it. The luck’s not on our side right now, but we’re gonna come around and come back.
Note: The TinCaps announced four roster moves Sunday. Pitchers Ruben Mejia and Bryan Rodriguez were activated off the disabled list, while reliever Chris Nunn moved to the disabled list. Rodriguez started Sunday’s game. Infielder Felix Cabrera, who played in Fort Wayne, was released by the San Diego Padres.