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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, July 07, 2018 6:45 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (11-5) vs. Bowling Green (10-6)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps opened their four-game series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods with a 6-1 loss, snapping a seven-game home winning streak and dropping them into a tie with Lansing for first place in the Eastern Division. The problem for Fort Wayne was its lack of clutch hitting; the TinCaps went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position (Robbie Podorsky, naturally, had the only hit in such situations) and left 11 runners on base.

As big of an issue as that was, however, it also means that the TinCaps were getting plenty of runners on base. The offense is still performing well and it just needed a couple of big hits to get back into Friday's game.

The Fort Wayne offense will have to deal with a talented pitcher to start Saturday's game in Bowling Green right-hander Resly Linares. Linares, a 6-foot-2, 170-pound 20-year-old, has struck out nearly 11 hitters per nine innings this season and has gone 2-2 with a 4.09 ERA in seven starts overall. He already faced the TinCaps once, pitching four innings and whiffing five without giving up an earned run on June 25. In his most recent outing, he tossed six innings and struck out a season-high 10 hitters in a win over West Michigan.

The TinCaps will counter with left-hander Tom Cosgrove, who will be making his first start in place of departed ace Nick Margevicius, who was promoted to Lake Elsinore on Thursday. Cosgrove will take the All-Star's place in the rotation after working in spot-start and long relief duty for most of the season. Cosgrove has been average, posting a 4.87 ERA in 14 games (11 starts), but has struck out 20 in 17 innings over his last three starts. Still, it will be tough for the TinCaps to deal with the loss of Margevicius, who has been their best pitcher most of the year.

"He obviously earned the right to move up," manager Anthony Contreras said. "That's what this game is about, progressing, moving up the levels, getting to the big leagues as fast as you can. He's going to pitch well (at Lake Elsinore). He's a strike-thrower that can command pitches and I don't see him skipping a beat."

While Cosgrove will take over in the rotation, Margevicius' roster spot will be filled by reliever Dylan Coleman. In addition to having a great first name, Coleman will be the first 2018 draftee to play for the TinCaps. The 6-foot-6 right-hander is a Missouri State product and went 10-2 in his final college season. His 129 strikeouts were 14th in Division I baseball and his fastball has been clocked at 98 mph. He was the No. 111 pick in the draft, the Padres' selection in the fourth round.

In other roster news, Fort Wayne shortstop Justin Lopez broke his thumb during Friday's game – he was covering second on a steal and the runner's face slid into his glove – and will go on the disabled list. In his place, the Padres sent infielder Kelvin Melean from Lake Elsinore to Fort Wayne. Melean has not played for the TinCaps before – he spent all of 2017 with Tri-City and has been in High-A all of this season – but at 19 years old he adds to the TinCaps' cadre of teenagers. He's been below-average at the plate this year, getting on base at just a .301 clip without power, so he'll have a chance to find his swing in Fort Wayne.