FORT WAYNE – The TinCaps can’t find their rhythm.
Fort Wayne squandered another chance to build some momentum – which has been hard to come by since the Midwest League All-Star break – with a 4-3 loss to Quad Cities on Wednesday at Parkview Field.
The TinCaps (52-42) have yet to win three games in a row in the second half.
They haven’t gone on a three-game winning streak since getting nine straight from June 2 to 11.
When you’re not playing the way you’re supposed to be, you’re not going to win some ballgames, TinCaps manager Jose Valentin said. To be able to win three in a row, or at least win more games, we just got to play better baseball overall – pitching, hitting and playing defense. We’re not doing that.
TinCaps starter Zach Eflin kept it close for Fort Wayne, which fell to 9-16 in the second half. Eflin went 6 1/3 innings and gave up five hits and one earned run with four strikeouts.
Great pitching by Eflin – outstanding, Valentin said. He was aggressive early in the game.
As sharp as he was, the TinCaps’ bats were just as sluggish.
The River Bandits (52-41, 14-10) got 6 1/3 innings from starter Lance McCullers, who was nearly untouchable until his final inning.
The right-hander struck out eight and was in the mid-90s for much of the game, and he changed speeds on his slider, which buckled the TinCaps’ knees more than once.
He didn’t make many mistakes, but his last one let Fort Wayne back in the game.
Shortstop Tyler Stubblefield smacked a laser into the second row of seats in left field to tie the game at 2 in the seventh inning. The TinCaps had one hit in the first six innings.
The home run gave the TinCaps and a crowd of 5,562 some life.
That was short-lived.
In the top of the ninth, the lack of focus at the plate carried onto the field.
A pair of errors in the final inning – one a misplayed fly ball by right fielder Brian Adams, the other a throwing error by third baseman Gabriel Quintana – allowed the decisive runs to cross for Quad Cities.
We’re going to have to play better baseball, Adams said. We’ll get it turned around.
The TinCaps mustered one run in the bottom of the ninth as Juan Minaya got the save.
And the TinCaps are still trying to put together a complete game – preferably, a few at a time.
I think it’s all focus. I think we’re trying to do too much right now, and we got to be there mentally, Eflin said. It just sometimes doesn’t go together. It’s baseball.
Note: Quintana was reinstated from the disabled list before the game, and pitcher Ruben Mejia was moved to the DL.