The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 20, 2021 10:10 pm

TinCaps lose to Dayton, 4-1, in return to Fort Wayne

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps managed just four hits in their first game at Parkview Field in nine days, falling 4-1 to the first-place Dayton Dragons despite a homer from outfielder Agustin Ruiz. 

How it Happened

TinCaps starter Carlos Guarate was making his High-A and TinCaps debut and acquitted himself well. The young right-hander gave up a first-inning single, but then retired the next six hitters he faced, picking up his first strikeout at this level when he got Victor Ruiz swinging at an 81 mph breaking ball that dove down and away in the second inning.

Guarate seemed to be cruising, but with one out in the third inning, No. 9 hitter Jose Tello ripped a line drive to deep left. The ball banged off the top of the wall and then spun over the yellow line that denotes a home run, ending a few rows deep in the seats for a cheap long ball that gave the Dragons a 1-0 lead. 

Guarate bounced back, retiring five in a row before hitting Juan Martinez to open the fifth inning. He got two outs – a grounder to short moved Martinez to second – but then leadoff hitter Jacob Hurtubise slapped a line drive to left field. Tirso Ornelas came running and tried to make a diving catch, but the ball slipped just underneath his glove and Martinez scored to push the Fort Wayne advantage to 2-0. Guarate made a good pitch against Hurtubise, a changeup down and away from the left-handed hitter, but Hurtubise did well to throw the bat at it and it put it in play. It was a second tough break for the TinCap hurler.

The newest Fort Wayne pitcher left the game after five innings, having surrendered two runs on four hits with one strikeout and no walks. He wasn't dominant, but he threw strikes (45 in 64 pitches) and worked quickly and efficiently, keeping his fielders engaged and getting plenty of soft contact. He'll likely get to pitch deeper into games as he adjusts to the higher level.

Unfortunately for Guarate, a TinCaps offensive power outage left him trailing 2-0 when he departed the game. Fort Wayne struggled mightily against Dayton pitcher Carson Spiers. Crucially, he didn't walk anyone, keeping the TinCaps from deploying their best offensive weapon in recent weeks. Fort Wayne managed just two singles against him. Spiers also had the help of a somewhat large strike zone from home plate umpire Justin Juska. Usually-discerning hitters Seamus Curran and Ethan Skender each struck out looking against Spiers and had very sharp words for Juska after doing so.

The TinCaps finally broke the shutout in the seventh. Ruiz led off and on 2-2 count lifted a fly ball that carried over the wall in right, landing 373 feet from home plate. The ball left Ruiz's bat at 94 mph and brought Fort Wayne within 2-1. Later in the inning, Curran drew a one-out walk. Justin Lopez and followed and roped a line drive into the gap in right-center. The ball was smoked and appeared to have a chance to get down for a game-tying extra-base-hit, but center-fielder Michael Siani ran it down and the Dragons escaped the inning.

Dayton put the game away with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth off Sam Keating, who gave up two singles, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Once again, the Fort Wayne bullpen was unable to keep the score contained, a persistent problem for the TinCaps this season, especially in the middle innings. That will be an increasing issue going forward with late-inning arms Carter Loewen and Jose Geraldo on the IL.

Player of the Game: Carson Spiers

The Dayton right-hander pitched five innings, gave up only two hits and struck out seven. He touched 95 mph with his fastball, flashed a slider at 84 mph and retired the final 10 Fort Wayne hitters he faced, including three straight swinging strikeouts in the third. Spiers had given up four home runs over his last two starts, but did not give up a single extra-base hit tonight. He surrendered four runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings against Fort Wayne on June 19.

Extra Innings

The TinCaps entered the game in last place in the High-A Central East Division, 6 1/2 games out of a playoff spot in the HAC. The Dragons are in possession of the second and final playoff spot and opened the night leading the East. ...  Guarate is the youngest pitcher in High-A Central this season at 20 years, three months, 20 days. He is the No. 17 prospect in the Padres farm system, per Fangraphs, and he pitched six no-hit, shutout innings in his last start with Low-A Lake Elsinore. ... Dayton second baseman Francisco Urbaez came in batting .335, No. 2 in High-A Central. He went 1 for 3 with a sacrifice bunt, extending a hitting streak to 14 games. ... Dayton pitching retired 12 straight TinCaps before Chris Givin walked in the sixth. Givin went 1 for 2 with two walks. ... Ruiz's home run was his 11th of the season, a team-high and tied for seventh in the league. It was his first long ball since June 26. ... Prior to the game, the TinCaps announced that right-hander Matt Waldron had been promoted to Double-A San Antonio. Waldron was third in High-A Central in ERA at 3.24 and led circuit in innings pitched with 72 1/3. The Padres sent 25-year-old left-handed reliever Fred Schlichtholz to Fort Wayne from Double-A in exchange. Schlichtholz spent most of 2018 with Low-A Fort Wayne. He has a 5.93 ERA in 23 appearances (one start) with Double-A San Antonio this season.

What's Next?

These teams will meet again Wednesday for the second matchup in this six-game series at Parkview Field. First pitch will be at 7:05 p.m. The TinCaps will send 23-year-old left-hander Danny Denz (0-1, 4.91 ERA) to the mound. Denz will be making his fifth pro appearance (third start) and is coming off an outing in which he gave up two runs on four hits in a career-high 2 2/3 innings. The Dragons will counter with 21-year-old right-hander Lyon Richardson (2-4, 5.83 ERA). Richardson is the No. 5 prospect in the Reds farm system, per Fangraphs. He gave up one run in seven innings while striking out 10 in a win over the TinCaps on June 19.

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