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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 10, 2018 12:50 am

Patino dominates but TinCaps fall

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

It was a rare loss lately for the TinCaps, one in which the bullpen coughed up a late lead. The team's relief corps has been rock-solid for 40 games, but Saturday both Travis Radke and Caleb Boushley surrendered three runs and Fort Wayne fell 6-3 against the Lansing Lugnuts.

The TinCaps led 2-0 when the bullpen took over thanks to a masterful performance from starter Luis Patino. The 18-year-old pitched five hitless innings, striking out four and walking three. He picked off the only runner that reached second base and was in command all night with a fastball that touched 97 mph, a solid changeup and effective slider.

"A lot of people see the fastball and they get kind of giddy over that, but he has a good changeup to complement that," manager Anthony Contreras said. "I think as a young 18-year-old that's very impressive to do at a young age."

Luis Campusano was behind the plate catching Patino, and Lugnuts first baseman Ryan Noda thought the pair had a solid rapport.

"(Patino) was just on tonight," Noda said. "You gotta tip your cap when a pitcher's on. He was hitting his spots. ... You gotta tip your cap to him and the catcher, they were just in sync tonight."

Noda has been the hottest hitter in the Midwest League over the last three days, homering four times, including a 429-foot blast tonight that was the longest home run at Parkview Field this season. The shot, off Boushley, tied the game at 2 in the sixth, ending Patino's shot at a win.

The bullpen has been excellent since a rough stretch to start the season and the performance tonight, from two pitchers that have been solid all year, is likely just a blip.

On a more positive note, the TinCaps got two each hits apiece from the Nos. 8-9 hitters in the order, Nick Feight and Jack Suwinski. Suwinski's performance in particular was encouraging to see. He had something of a power outage over the last few weeks, going 17 games with just one extra-base hit, but he's doubled in two straight games, including a rocket into the right-field corner to bring in Feight with the game's first run.

"Jack's not having his greatest year, but to make some adjustments and you see Jack pull the ball and you see (Feight) get on base, it just brings confidence to the whole lineup," Contreras said.

This was a winnable game for the TinCaps, but they weren't able to pull it out late. They left some opportunities on the table, striking out twice with the bases loaded in the third and getting just one run out of a first-and-third, nobody-out situation in the sixth. Once again, however, they haven't been intimidated by the Lugnuts, who are one of the best teams in the league. They'll have a chance to clinch a series split with an afternoon game Sunday.