The TinCaps found a bit of a spark, and the home-field advantage that has eluded them throughout the second half, in an 8-5 win against Dayton on Monday at Parkview Field.
Fort Wayne (62-57, 19-31 second half) was 25-11 at home in the first half. That record was good for the best at home in the Midwest League and helped the TinCaps secure a first-half playoff berth.
Theyve been nowhere near as good since, at home or otherwise. Fort Wayne was a league-worst 11-15 at home entering Mondays game, and the TinCaps had just three back-to-back wins during the second half.
They improved on that number with their second-straight win against Dayton (55-65, 27-24). But even in victory, the TinCaps looked ugly, manager Jose Valentin said.
Im not pleased with it, said Valentin, whose team is 5-5 in its last 10 games. Thats the way were playing so far – inconsistent. One day its pitching, no offense. The other day its a lot of offense, no pitching.
The game started well for Fort Wayne, which racked up 10 hits and six runs on Dragons starter Sal Romano before his exit during a four-run fourth inning.
Starter Max Fried wasnt dominating, but he did well enough through those innings. Then, a six-run advantage dwindled to a three Fried tired and his relievers faltered.
Too many walks, Valentin said after Fried gave up six, and the relievers two. Sooner or later, youre gonna get hurt. You cannot give up a lead like that and then give a chance to the opponent.
Jorge Guzman relieved Fried in the top of the sixth with runners on first and third. His first pitch turned into a two-run triple for catcher Brandon Dailey, who would score on a single later in the inning.
Pitching up in the zone, pitching behind the count, Valentin said. Today, we got lucky in those situations.
The TinCaps have lost most of the ugly games theyve played in the second half, and the collapses have become as dependable as Fort Wayne was at home in the first half.
The first half, we got away with a lot of games like that, Valentin said. If we want to win or go all the way to the playoffs or go to the finals, we cant afford to just keep playing the same way were playing.
Chris Nunn and Matthew Chabot picked up holds for Fort Wayne, and Roman Madrid got his 19th save of the season for the TinCaps.
We still gotta work and try to get better, Valentin said. Sometimes its better to get lucky. But like I said, sooner or later, youre gonna run into a tough situation where youre not gonna get lucky, and you got to go up there an execute and play the game that were supposed to be.