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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, May 15, 2018 12:20 am

TinCaps end losing streak, Thompson dominates: Final thoughts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps opened their seven-game homestand on a high note, snapping a four-game losing streak and playing all eight of their Top 30 Padres prospects in the same game for the first time this season.

Those prospects were instrumental in the team's win, especially the 1-2-3 hitters in the Fort Wayne order. Jeisson Rosario, Esteury Ruiz and Tirso Ornelas reached base seven times combined and scored three of the TinCaps' five runs in a 5-3 victory. Ruiz had a particularly good game, going 2 for 4 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI, his 19th of the season. The 19-year-old's swing continues to impress and he has been arguably the team's best hitter in May. He made a terrific defensive play coming in at third on a swinging bunt in the late innings to complete his banner night.

The pitching was the main story of the night for the TinCaps, with noteworthy performances from both left-hander MacKenzie Gore and right-hander Mason Thompson. Gore's start was his third of the season and just the second at Parkview Field and he once against showed flashes of dominance but also seem eminently hittable at other times, especially in the first inning.

The top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball gave up a two-run homer to the third hitter of the game and ended up surrendering three runs in the inning. Unlike his last two starts, however, he improved as the night went on, pitching two scoreless innings to end his outing and keep his team in the game. It's good to see Gore battle like that and it says something about his makeup that he kept grinding despite falling behind and knowing it would be a short night. He eventually struck out three and gave up six hits in three innings.

He hit 95 mph on the radar gun tonight, about where is when he's 100 percent, which he says he is right now. The fastball command, which was his calling card in high school, isn't quite there yet – the home run pitch was a heater that was supposed to be on the outside corner and leaked back over the heart of the plate. He also said he would rather throw his secondary pitches more.

"I'm just trying to get in a rhythm," he said. "I probably should have thrown more breaking balls tonight, but it's tough right now because I haven't been able to get in a rhythm. I'll figure it out though."

Gore is clearly a little frustrated with how his first few starts in the Midwest League have gone. With a 10.13 ERA, it's easy to see why. The talent is definitely there, however, and I think something will click sooner rather than later. 

By contrast, something seems to have already clicked for Mason Thompson. The big right-hander has had three outstanding outings in a row, giving up two runs in 15 innings in that stretch. Tonight, he mixed all four of his pitches, including the slider he worked on in the offseason, and struck out six in four scoreless innings. Walks hurt him near the beginning of the season, but he didn't walk any until his final inning tonight. Even more encouragingly, he hit 94 mph on the radar gun, after sitting 90-91 most of the season. His fastball wasn't consistently that fast, but if he can throw that hard more often, he'll begin cashing in on his still-enormous potential.

This was a team win for Fort Wayne, helped significantly by the five errors the Whitecaps committed. The TinCaps will have a chance to build on this Tuesday at 7:05 in the second game of the series, when left-hander Osvaldo Hernandez becomes the second straight 19-year-old to get the start for Fort Wayne.

dsinn@jg.net