FORT WAYNE – The TinCaps squandered a seven-run lead and dropped their fifth straight game with a 10-9 loss to Lake County on Tuesday at Parkview Field.
Fort Wayne (55-50, 12-24 second half) started as strong as it has all year. Then, it gave up its largest blown lead of the year.
These TinCaps lack instincts. They lack guts. They lack passion for winning, and they lack the mental toughness to make those wins happen.
So said manager Jose Valentin.
Ive run out of bullets, Valentin said. I dont know what else I can do. I shuffled the lineup, pretty much just using everything I have.
The TinCaps got runs from their first five batters, with Luis Domoromos three-run home run highlighting that stretch.
They added three more in the bottom of the third to make it an 8-1 advantage, and a sellout crowd of 7,431 seemed ready to enjoy a rout.
But the lead was short-lived.
Fort Wayne starter Walker Weickel, who gave up four hits and one earned run in his first four innings, surrendered five hits and seven runs, four earned, in the top of the fifth.
Valentin pulled Weickel after 4 1/3 innings in favor of Colin Rae, who gave up five hits and an earned run in 2 2/3 innings.
The TinCaps managed to pull ahead after the Captains (41-63, 18-19) tied the game at 8. Right fielder Brian Adams legged out an infield bunt single and advanced on a throwing error by the pitcher. Consecutive ground balls allowed Adams to cross for a 9-8 lead.
Again, it didnt last.
Its hard to explain, Valentin said. You need to use your brain, think in those situations, but I got players in here with no instincts.
A bases-loaded single by first baseman Joe Sever off Rae scored another run to make it 9-9.
And after all that offense – a combined 26 hits, 18 runs and five errors – the teams went silent.
Fort Wayne led off the seventh with a double from shortstop Tyler Stubblefield, but the TinCaps struck out in their next five at-bats.
Lake County didnt do much better, but the Captains did enough.
With runners on first and second, second baseman Zack MacPhee drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth off TinCaps closer Chris Nunn.
And Valentin doesnt see an end in sight for the teams losing ways.
They pretty much quit on it, he said. I dont think that we have the guts to do it. Weve got some guys in here who are too soft, too soft for this game of baseball – mentally, physically, I dont think they have the heart to do it.
Note: TinCaps third baseman Chris Burke transferred to Advanced-A Lake Elsinore. Fort Wayne reinstated outfielder Alberth Martinez from the disabled list.