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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 10, 2018 6:30 pm

TinCaps beat Lansing 15-0 as Gore returns

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

Phenom MacKenzie Gore, returning from the disabled list after nearly a month, was the main attraction and he did not disappoint. The best left-handed pitching prospect in minor league baseball struck out the first hitter he saw on three pitches and carried that momentum through his abbreviated two-inning start.

The 19-year-old struck out the side in the first and hit 95 with his fastball, spotting it consistently on the black on both sides of the plate. His changeup was good, but it was the fastball command that was really impressive, as he got a ton of whiffs with the heater against overpowered hitters. He only threw 36 pitches, 24 for strikes, but it was easily his best start of the season.

The TinCaps put some runs up early, but really put the game away in the fourth. In that inning, they exploded on offense, sending 10 hitters to the plate. Six of those hitters got hits and a seventh drove a line drive that other way that was an error, but left his bat at 100 mph. The big hit was a two-run double from Esteury Ruiz that rattled around in the left-field corner. Six runs crossed the plate and when the dust settled Fort Wayne held a commanding 9-0 lead and it cruised home. 

The TinCaps went in front early, thanks to some textbook execution. Ruiz fouled off a couple tough pitches and took a walk to put a runner on in the first. The struggling Jeisson Rosario followed with a bouncing ball through the right side for a single on a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners, and Justin Lopez drove in the game's first run with a long fly ball to left. It wasn't an explosive rally, but it was the type that was missing from the team's loss on Saturday.

The same group of hitters put together another rally in the third. Ruiz laced a one-out single to left, and Rosario followed with a walk. Lopez once again came through with runners on base, grounding a single through the left side that drove in Ruiz and made it 2-0. Later in the inning, the Lugnuts' Maximo Castillo unleashed a wild pitch and Rosario raced home, just beating a relay from the catcher to score the second run of the inning and extending the lead to three.

Player of the Game: Esteury Ruiz

The 19-year-old Ruiz had been through a 4-for-31 stretch heading into Saturday's game, but he doubled and singled in that contest and exploded today. The designated hitter went 3 for 5 with a two-run homer, walk and a double and drove in four runs to increase his team-leading RBI total to 30. He also scored a career-high four runs and is third on the team in that category with 32. His six home runs lead the team.

Facts & figures

Justin Lopez went 3 for 3 with two RBI, a walk and a run scored. It was his second three-hit game in June. ... The TinCaps collected a season-high 18 hits. The previous high of 16 was also against Lansing. ... ... Gore pitched two scoreless, hitless innings, while striking out three in his first start since May 14 because of a blister on his pitching hand. It was just his fourth start of the season. ... Aaron Leasher pitched six shutout innings, giving up just four hits. It was his second straight appearance out of the bullpen, and he gave up no runs in 10 innings combined in those outings. ... For the second straight game, the TinCaps took a no-hitter into the fifth. Norberto Obeso picked up the first Lugnut hit with two outs in the fifth. ... Jack Suwinski went 1 for 4 with a triple, the third straight game he's had an extra-base hit after just one his previous 17 contests. ... To make room for Gore on the roster, the San Diego Padres sent reliever Diomar Lopez to extended spring training before the game. The right-hander made two appearances with Fort Wayne, pitching two innings and giving up four runs. He made 25 appearances for the TinCaps last season. ... It was Military Appreciation Day at Parkview Field. There was an A-10 Flyover from the 122nd Fighter Wing before the game and "God Bless America" played in addition to the National Anthem. The TinCaps wore specialty jerseys with the American flag superimposed in the lettering on the front of the jersey.

What's next?

These teams will meet again Monday for the finale of this four-game series. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. at Parkview Field. Mason Thompson (4-2, 5.83 ERA). Thompson is tied for the team lead in wins, but has given up at least three runs in no more than 5 1/3 innings in all three of his most recent starts. The Lugnuts will counter with right-hander Colton Laws (2-2, 5.85 ERA). Laws has walked just three hitters in 32 1/3 innings.

dsinn@jg.net