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The Journal Gazette

Friday, June 08, 2018 10:10 pm

TinCaps beat Lugnuts, 9-3

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

The TinCaps' biggest inning came in the third. After Lansing starter Matthew Gunter retired the first six hitters in a row, he lost his command. Luis Almanzar led off with a walk and Jalen Washington followed with a high-arcing home run just over the wall in left field. It was Washington's second homer of the season and turned a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead. 

Fort Wayne wasn't done, though. Jack Suwinski ripped a double down the line in right field and Jeisson Rosario followed with a perfect bunt that turned into a base hit without a throw. Later in the inning, Tirso Ornelas walked with the bases loaded to force in a run and Gabriel Arias singled in a fourth tally to make it 4-1. The TinCaps sent 10 hitters to the plate in the inning, a needed explosion from an offense that had scored one total run in its last two games.

The TinCaps had another big inning in the fourth. Two more runs scored on bases-loaded walks, one to Campusano and one to Arias. Rosario drove in another run in the rally with a nice piece of hitting, punching a single the other way over a drawn-in infield with a runner on third. Fort Wayne batted around again and when the dust settled, it was 7-1.

TinCaps starter Osvaldo Hernandez had been one of the hottest pitchers in the league coming in, but struggled at the outset Friday. The left-hander gave up a line-drive single on the first pitch of the game and that might have surprised him a bit, because he walked the next two hitters, including one on four pitches. He gave up just one run, thanks to a great running catch by Jack Suwinski in right field on a ball that could have cleared the bases. Instead, it turned into a double play and Fort Wayne trailed only 1-0.

The left-hander settled in after that and continued his streak of solid starts. He used a sharp-breaking curveball to get swings and misses and seemed to get stronger as the night went on. He needed just 80 pitches to complete six innings and he struck out four of the final six hitters he faced after giving up a run in the fifth.

Player of the Game: Jalen Washington

Washington had one of his best games of the season at the plate, going 2 for 4 with a home run, a single, two RBI, two runs scored and a stolen base. The home run was his first since April 13, but the multi-hit performance was his second in the last three games.

Facts and Figures

Hernandez has given up two runs or fewer in eight straight starts dating back to April 21. He pitched six innings, striking out six and giving up two runs. His season ERA is 2.29 ... Washington's home run traveled 333 feet and left his bat at 90 mph. ... Campuanso walked with the bases loaded twice. The TinCaps walked six times in total. ...  Gunter retired the first six TinCaps in a row, but he did not make it through the third inning, getting lifted with two outs and four runs in. ...  Lugnuts No. 2 hitter Ryan Noda came into the game leading the league in walks with 51 and walked in the first. He has walked in nearly 25 percent of his plate appearances this season. He also homered in the ninth to complete the scoring, a 370-foot blast to left. ... Lansing came into the game tied for first place in the Eastern Division with the Bowling Green Hot Rods. ... The Lugnuts fall to 19-11 on the road, still easily the best record in the Midwest League. ... Lansing first baseman Brandon Grudzielanek is the nephew of 15-year MLB veteran Mark Grudzielanek. ... It was Princess Night at Parkview Field tonight. Mascot Johnny dressed like Prince Charming. ... The announced crowd was 6,813.

What's Next?

These teams will meet again Saturday night for the second game of this four-game set. Luis Patino (2-2, 4.15 ERA) will be on the mound for the TinCaps, making his fifth Midwest League start. He has thrown nine consecutive shutout innings over his last two outings. Patino will take on the Lugnuts' Maverik Buffo (7-2, 5.08 ERA), who is tied for the league lead in wins.

dsinn@jg.net