Brett Luke | The Journal Gazette MacKenzie Gore returned from injury and pitched two stellar innings in the TinCaps' blowout win over Lansing at Parkview Field on Sunday afternoon.
Monday, June 11, 2018 1:00 am
TinCaps 15, Lansing 0
Gore gets plenty of help
TinCaps' offense catches fires in his return to hill
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
Where: Parkview Field
When: 7:05 p.m. today
Pitchers: Mason Thompson (TinCaps) vs. Colton Laws (Lugnuts)
TV: Xfinity 81
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM
One of the top pitching prospects in minor league baseball returned to the mound Sunday at Parkview Field and showed why he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
The TinCaps' MacKenzie Gore pitched two scoreless and hitless innings and the offense exploded for six runs on six hits in the fourth inning, sending the home team to a 15-0 victory in front of an announced crowd of 6,341 on Military Appreciation Day.
Gore was making his first start since May 14 for Fort Wayne (28-33) because of a blister on his pitching hand that has bothered him much of the season. The left-hander struggled in his first three starts this season, posting an ERA greater than 10, but he was dominant Sunday.
“I think this was the most competitive that I've seen him,” manager Anthony Contreras said of Gore. “There was some fire behind him today when he was throwing. The athlete and the competitor that he is, he'd been waiting to get out there and pitch and be part of this team. I think all of that build-up got let out in those two innings and it was good to see him get fired up and pitch the way he did.”
The 19-year-old struck out the side in the first, including the first hitter he faced on three pitches. He got plenty of swings and misses with a fastball that touched 95 mph and mixed in a couple of solid changeups. After two months of frustration, Gore got a string of handshakes and high-fives from his teammates when he exited the game after 36 pitches.
“Honestly when I'm at my best I pitch with an edge and I didn't have an edge my first three starts (this season),” Gore said. “It was just me going out there and competing and trying to help the team win.”
Gore was asked what helped him find his edge.
“Let's don't have another bad one,” he said, laughing.
The TinCaps' offense was just as impressive as the team's young starter, pounding out a season-high 19 hits and putting the game away after the big rally in the fourth against the Lugnuts (39-24). Esteury Ruiz contributed a two-run double into the left-field corner in the six-run uprising and went 3 for 5 with a home run and a career-high five runs scored. His four RBI extended his team-best total to 30.
“He's been waiting to get out of it (the slump),” Contreras said of Ruiz, who leads the team with six homers. “For him to barrel up some balls and then he gets the home run his last (at-bat) is huge for his confidence. He's a very, very knowledgeable hitter, he knows what he wants to do when he's in the cages.
“When you're that advanced as a young hitter, it can probably eat at you a little bit when things aren't going your way but it just shows that if you stick with the process and you grind it out, you can get good days like this.”
Gore also had plenty of support from the bullpen, although that largely consisted of scheduled starter Aaron Leasher, who tossed six shutout innings and gave up just four hits while striking out six. The All-Star has pitched 10 consecutive scoreless innings over his last two outings, both in relief.