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vs. Cedar Rapids
When: 6:05 p.m. today
TV: Xfinity Channel 81
Radio: 1380 AM
Tickets: $12.50, $10, $9, $8, $5 (lawn)
Information: or 482-6400

Struggles on mound hurt TinCaps

Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
TinCaps starter Matthew Sheperd gave up five runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings against Quad Cities on Friday.

– Fort Wayne managed to make the most of mistakes by Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 major-league draft and Quad Cities starter Friday.

But the TinCaps’ pitchers made too many errors of their own in a 6-3 loss to the River Bandits at Parkview Field.

“Our pitchers today were struggling to throw some strikes,” TinCaps manager Jose Valentin said. “Too many pitching behind counts, too many 2-0 pitches, 3-1 pitches. It’s tough to watch that day by day.”

Appel made two bad pitches in his four-inning stint against the TinCaps (53-43) – one a high changeup that Corey Adamson turned into a two-run home run, the other a solo shot from Gabriel Quintana off a fastball up.

But the River Bandits (53-42, 15-11 second half), who won two of three in the series, backed up their starter with some solid hitting, and TinCaps starter Matthew Shepherd never got comfortable.

“Too many pitches early,” Valentin said. “He battled the first two innings, got out of those with no runs. But again, you can’t afford to pitch up in the zone. You’re going to get hit.”

Carlos Correa, the No. 1 pick in 2012, leveled the score in the top of the third with a two-run homer over the left-field wall. In the next inning, four hits sent Shepherd to the dugout and the River Bandits to a 5-2 lead.

“The last two innings, I just struggled getting ahead of hitters,” said Shepherd, who gave up five runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. “They’re a good team. When you leave balls up in the zone, they’re going to take advantage of it.”

Quintana’s home run in the bottom of the fourth ended the scoring for Fort Wayne.

Reliever Joe Church went four innings after Shepherd’s exit.

He gave up three hits and one walk while striking out three for the TinCaps.

But Fort Wayne couldn’t force any action other than the home runs. The TinCaps got four runners on base in their final five innings and runners into scoring position just twice.

Fort Wayne, with 7,438 fans on hand, came up empty on both of those chances.

“It was a good game until we gave up the lead, and after that, we was a different team,” Valentin said. “Offensively, it was bad today. Swinging at too many bad pitches – again, can’t get the hit when we have to.”

Daniel Minor went three innings with three hits for Quad Cities, which scored the final run off a sacrifice fly from Rio Ruiz in the top of the ninth.

Jordan Jankowski got the save for the River Bandits, while the TinCaps fell to 10-17 in the second half.

That record is the second-worst in the Midwest League Eastern Division and third-worst overall in the MWL.

While pitching isn’t the only reason, it has loomed large in the mind of Valentin and his staff.

“This is a lot of our first full seasons,” Shepherd said. “I think we’ll bounce back and get better before our next starts.”