FORT WAYNE – Things are starting to come into focus for the TinCaps.
With Kyle Lloyd’s emergence, Fort Wayne has three starting pitchers throwing well, and the lineup, so explosive at times, has seen Mallex Smith and Josh VanMeter emerge from slumps.
All of those factors converged as part of a rain-delayed, 7-0 rout of Lake County on Tuesday night at Parkview Field.
The win secured the TinCaps’ second series victory of the year and first since they completed a sweep of Peoria on April 19.
Rain started falling after the third inning, and the game was stopped with one out in the bottom of the fourth. The TinCaps led 5-0 when play resumed after a stoppage of one hour, 17 minutes.
The TinCaps (16-21) wasted no time adding more. VanMeter, the second hitter after the delay, blasted an 0-1 breaking ball out to right field for a two-run homer, his first as a professional.
Dropped to ninth in the order on Monday, VanMeter responded by going 2 for 4, and kept it up a day later.
Manager Michael Collins, who had been hitting VanMeter primarily in the No. 2 spot, felt the change might help relax him.
Put him down at the bottom, you try to put him in a situation where he can go up and just hit, swing the bat and find a little groove, Collins said. Hitting behind Smith, you’re worried about trying to take a pitch or bunt him over. There are more things going on.
VanMeter entered the series batting .203. After his homer, one teammate after another greeted the former Norwell star in the dugout, rubbing his head and offering congratulations.
Fort Wayne must be similarly pleased with Lloyd, who joined the rotation after Pete Kelich went on the disabled list. Lloyd pitched four shutout innings in a 1-0 loss at Lansing on May 6 and may have been even better in his second professional start.
The former Evansville pitcher gave up four hits, walked none and struck out five in four innings. Were it not for the rain delay, he said he would have come back out for the fifth.
I was getting ahead of batters, Lloyd said. I was able to get down in the zone and put guys away.
Tony Wieber (2-0) pitched four innings before Wilson Santos got the final three outs.
Smith, who hit .221 in April, entered at .390 in May and continued to use his speed.
After Ronnie Richardson was hit by a pitch leading off the game, Smith laid down the first of two bunt hits. That preceded Dustin Peterson’s two-run double. Dane Phillips’ RBI groundout made it 3-0.
Lake County (11-27) committed a two-out error in the third that let in a run and gave up Jake Bauers’ sacrifice fly just before umpires halted the game. We’re starting to figure things out, Lloyd said. Some things are getting moved around. We all have to go out and do what our job’s supposed to be.