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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 08, 2018 12:30 am

TinCaps drop second straight despite huge game from Jeisson Rosario

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps' second-half performance has been characterized by doing the little things that it takes to win. Manager Anthony Contreras has preached all season about sweating the details and making sure that his team takes care of what it can control. After struggling with such details at the beginning of the season – there were plenty of errors, both physical and mental, in April and early May – the TinCaps had done exactly that for a long stretch.

Of course, no team can win every game, but Fort Wayne, especially recently, has done a solid job of giving itself a chance to win by keeping its mistakes to a minimum and making every at-bat count. For the first two games of this series against Bowling Green, including a 5-4 loss Saturday, however, that hasn't been the case.

For two straight games, the TinCaps have struggled to come up with big hits and have made more than their share of mental mistakes. No mistake was bigger than that by All-Star catcher Luis Campusano in the top of the eighth inning Saturday. With the game tied and a runner on second, Bowling Green's Jim Haley struck out swinging. The ball bounced a few feet from Campusano and Haley took off toward first. The catcher was then not only slow getting to the ball, he also lobbed a throw to first base. Haley beat the throw and the go-ahead run moved up from second to third, as well.

Alexander Alvarez followed with a safety squeeze bunt that brought in what turned out to be the game-winning run. The play would not have been possible had Haley been out at first for the second out of the inning, as he should have been. Of course, one play rarely costs a team a game, but that play will stand out because it was preventable and the TinCaps haven't been making those mistakes lately.

There were also bright spots in the game, especially the performance of Jeisson Rosario at the top of the order. Rosario went through (by his standards) a slump in June, getting on base at "only" a .358 clip and slugging a paltry .333. He's turned it around in July, however, especially the last few games. Saturday, the left-handed leadoff hitter went 3 for 4 with a triple, double, two runs scored and two RBI. His two-run triple in the second inning gave Fort Wayne its only lead at 3-2 and he hit the ball hard all four times up. Combined with his three hits in the series-opener Friday, Rosario has back-to-back three-hit games for the first time in his pro career. The combination of Rosario, Robbie Podorsky and Tirso Ornelas at the top of the lineup is extremely effective and should carry the TinCaps to plenty of wins in the coming months.

Seven hits from that trio wasn't enough Saturday, however, and the TinCaps fell to 11-6 in the second half. They're now in a three-way tie with Bowling Green and Lansing at the top of the Eastern Division with two more to play in this four-game set against the Hot Rods. These next two games take on extra importance because Fort Wayne goes on the road, where it has struggled this season, for six straight games after that. The TinCaps will send All-Star left-hander Aaron Leasher to the mound Sunday to try to get them back on track.

dsinn@jg.net