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The Journal Gazette

Friday, June 08, 2018 11:30 pm

TinCaps get back on track, beat Lansing

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps seem to have left their offensive struggles on the road. After returning to Parkview Field, where they're 16-12 this season, Fort Wayne had a huge night at the plate, collecting nine hits and walking six times en route to a 9-3 victory over the first place Lansing Lugnuts.

The Lugnuts came in with the best road record in the Midwest League and are still 19-11 away from home, but the TinCaps seem especially comfortable at Parkview Field. Manager Anthony Contreras said the familiarity of playing at home is key.

"These guys coming into today were just excited to be home," Contreras said. "We've been on the road quite a bit the last couple weeks. ... I just think it's familiar ground (at home). You come here (to Parkview Field), you know where everything is. Our schedule is the same pretty much every single day. 

"On the road, you're sleeping in hotels, you're having to fend for yourself and look around, especially for these younger Latin kids that are going out trying to find food. Here they know where everything is, they know the restaurants, they know they're going to go back to their own place and sleep in their own bed at night."

The TinCaps certainly looked comfortable at the plate, batting around in both the third and the fourth and scoring seven runs in the two innings combined. Jalen Washington hit a home run and Luis Campusano walked twice with the bases loaded. Contreras was impressed by Campusano's walks, which he said demonstrated a lot of poise.

"He's looking very confident at the plate right now," Contreras said of the All-Star catcher. "He's starting to find his groove at the plate. I actually gave him the green light to swing 3-0 (on the second walk), but he took that pitch. 

"That's a professional (at-bat). I've seen a lot of kids where they'll swing out of their shoes just because I gave them the green light. He was able to control himself and take that RBI."

The explosion of offense came in support of Fort Wayne starter Osvaldo Hernandez, who continued his string of solid outings with six innings of two-run ball against the Lugnuts. He got the win, running his record to 4-2, and has now given up two runs or fewer in eight straight starts. 

Hernandez has a lot of energy on the mound and Contreras said the TinCaps have worked with him to make sure that energy is controlled and focused on getting hitters out. Tonight, it looked like his start could go off the rails early after he gave up a single to the leadoff hitter in the first and then walked the next two. Instead, he took a deep breath behind the mind and limited the Lugnuts to one run in the inning. That's a big sign of progress for the talented 20-year-old, who needed only 80 pitches to complete six innings tonight. 

The TinCaps have a chance to make it two in a row against the first-place Lugnuts on Saturday in the second game of this series.