FORT WAYNE – The TinCaps just seem to play with fire, and manager Jose Valentin believed that’s what happened Sunday.
Pitcher Joe Ross was holding Cedar Rapids scoreless but was often on the cusp of giving up a big hit in a 2-1 loss to the Kernels on Sunday at Parkview Field.
The big hit came in the sixth inning when Brett Adam Walker blasted a high fastball over the left-center wall for a his Midwest League-leading 21st home run and a 2-1 lead.
Joe, I think he was OK, Valentin said. It was one of those days where he made some bad pitches and was getting away with them early in the game. But sooner or later, if you keep pitching that way, you’re going to suffer and that’s what happened.
He made one (awful) pitch to the worst guy you can.
Ross gave the TinCaps a chance, giving up seven hits while striking out three and walking two in six innings.
He also helped on defense, grabbing a fast hopper up the middle in the fourth and a line drive for a double play in the fifth.
But the TinCaps (55-44, 11-18 second half) mustered only four hits in the loss.
I’m not too happy, Valentin said. It’s something (wrong) every day. It’s painful to see offensively the way it goes. There’s not too much you can do. We can have a hitting coach here every day working with those guys, but they’re not getting better.
Ross (4-5) has one win and four losses in his last 13 games dating to April 25. Before Walker’s homer, the TinCaps held the Kernels scoreless for 14 straight innings, including a 1-0 victory Saturday.
Joe pitched phenomenal, said Brian Adams, whose RBI single in the fifth gave Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead. We were hoping we could hold them where they were at early in the game. We obviously didn’t get the runs we needed to win the game, so that’s not a good thing, but it’s a long season and we’re crawling in the right direction.
Fort Wayne’s Chris Burke was 2 for 4 with a run. Rodney Daal had the only other Fort Wayne hit.
Mason Melotakis (8-3) gave up four hits, struck out six and walked one in six innings for Cedar Rapids (60-37, 20-9), and he threw four wild pitches.
Three of those came in the sixth, but the TinCaps stranded two runners thanks to a terrific snag of a Diego Goris liner by shortstop Jorge Polanco and a Burke strikeout.
If we get a few wins here, we’ll be in good shape, Adams said.
Notes: Cedar Rapids second baseman Nike Goodrum left the game after suffering an injury in the fourth. When Diego Goris struck out, catcher Michael Quesada’s throw set up a collision at second between Goodrum and Quintana, who was out. Fort Wayne is 11-11 in interdivision play, which ends with tonight’s game against the Kernels.