The TinCaps struggled through a difficult offensive performance, spoiling a very good start from right-hander Matt Waldron and losing 3-1 to the Lake County Captains at Parkview Field tonight, their eighth defeat in nine games.
How it Happened
In an otherwise excellent outing, Waldron made only one real mistake, but he paid for it. With a runner on first and two outs in the third inning of a scoreless game, Waldron left a 90-mph fastball over the middle of the plate and slugger George Valera pounded it over the 15-foot-high wall in left-center for a go-ahead two-run homer. The ball launched off his bat at 106 mph and put Lake County in front 2-0, a lead Fort Wayne would spend all night chasing.
Outside of that home run, Waldron was outstanding for a second straight start. Using his mid-to-high-70s knuckle on nearly 50% of his pitches and mixing in an effective low-80s slider and a fastball in the low-90s, the 24-year-old righty kept Lake County off balance all night. He gave up a ton of soft contact and even some of the hits he gave up were soft – he surrendered three infield hits and a bunt single. The runner on for Valera's home run had gotten on via a fielder's choice after an infield single. Waldron's control was also solid. Two starts after walking seven against South Bend, he gave out only one free pass and none in his final six innings. He left after seven innings, trailing 2-1.
The TinCaps had plenty of opportunities to close the gap in the early and middle innings, but couldn't come up with a big hit. The missed opportunities began in the first inning, when Kelvin Alarcon struck out with two on after Fort Wayne had mounted a two-out rally.
In the second inning, Luis Almanzar and Grant Little opened the frame with back-to-back walks. A sacrifice bunt moved them into scoring position, but Jawuan Harris popped up and Chris Givin struck out to end the threat. Harris walked to lead off the fifth and two batters later Agustin Ruiz laced a single to right, but not before Harris had been picked off first as he appeared to be preparing for a stolen-base attempt.
The trend continued in the seventh, when Fort Wayne got a gift with two outs: Harris popped up into shallow left. As the ball disappeared into the lights, Lake County shortstop Brayan Rocchio and left-fielder Clark Scolamiero both stood rooted in place, searching for the ball. It eventually fell 15 feet away from either of them, allowing Harris to reach second with a lucky double. That opportunity came to nothing, also, though, as Givin struck out swinging to end the inning.
Fort Wayne did push across one run without a big hit. That came in the fourth, when Little ripped a line drive to left for a single with two outs and catcher Adam Kerner followed with a blooper into shallow right-center that barely eluded the out-stretched glove of second baseman Jose Tena for another single. With Harris at the plate, Kerner then broke for second, drawing a throw and putting on the brakes to start a rundown. As soon as the throw went to second, Little broke for the plate and crossed easily before Kerner was tagged out. The run went down as a steal of home for Little and brought Fort Wayne tantalizingly close to even.
The final six TinCaps were retired in order in the eighth and ninth, six by strikeout, after Agustin Ruiz opened the eighth with a walk.
Player of the Game: Matt Waldron
Waldron went seven innings for the second consecutive start, just the third seven-inning appearance for Fort Wayne this season. He struck out five and walked one while giving up nine hits. He took the hard-luck loss, however, dropping to 2-4.
The TinCaps came into the game in last place in the High-A Central East Division, nine games out of the league's final playoff spot. ... It was 90s Night at Parkview Field, the first theme night of the season. ... Fort Wayne walked five times. The TinCaps have drawn 95 free passes in the last 16 games, an average of 5.9 per contest. ... TinCaps outfielder Tirso Ornelas singled in the first inning. It was the sixth consecutive plate appearance since Wednesday in which he'd reached base (four hits, two walks). He finished the game 1 for 4. ... Little went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. In two games since returning from some bruised ribs, the outfielder is 3 for 7 with two doubles, two runs scored, a walk and a steal of home. ... Before Fort Wayne scored in the fourth inning, Lake County starter Tanner Burns had thrown 8 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings against the TinCaps. ... Of the 10 games on this TinCaps homestand, seven have been decided by one or two runs. Fort Wayne is 2-5 in those games. ... Prior to the game, the TinCaps announced that lefty reliever Danny Denz had been activated off the Injured List. Denz has not yet made his pro debut after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Padres out of the University of Memphis in 2020. ... Komets broadcaster Shane Albahrani was a guest broadcaster in the TinCaps' radio booth tonight, a week after he called the Komets' victory over the South Carolina Stingrays that clinched the Kelly Cup.
These teams will meet again Saturday for the fifth matchup in the six-game series at Parkview Field. First pitch will be at 6:35 p.m. The TinCaps will send 25-year-old right-hander Gabe Mosser (2-4, 4.44 ERA) to the mound. Mosser took a no-hitter into the fifth inning in his last start and struck out a season-high seven, but ended up working just 4 2/3 and giving up two runs on three hits. He'd gone 13 innings combined in his previous two starts. The Captains will counter with 23-year-old right-hander Hunter Gaddis (2-3, 5.35 ERA), the No. 27 prospect in the Cleveland farm system, per Fangraphs.