It was all still there for the TinCaps in the eighth inning of Thursday’s game against Lansing:
A chance to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
A chance to have a winning record in the final homestand of the first half.
And a chance to take two of three from the Lugnuts, the best team in the Midwest League.
It all went away with one swing of the bat. Kevin Patterson hit a three-run home run off reliever Chris Haney in the eighth inning, and Lansing held on to beat the TinCaps 5-4 in front of 8,531 fans at Parkview Field.
We had a lot of chances to try to get closer and closer (in the standings), TinCaps manager Jose Valentin said. You just have to forget about it. There are still 70 games left in the season. It’s a whole new season in the second half.
The third-largest crowd in Parkview Field’s history watched the TinCaps squander a strong pitching performance by starter Colin Rea.
In the process, the team was eliminated from playoff contention for the first half.
It’s a shame with the way Colin Rea pitched today, but our bullpen couldn’t hold the lead, Valentin said.
Rea gave up one run on four hits in six innings. He struck out a career-high eight batters.
He had a great outing, Valentin said. He threw the ball well. He deserved to win.
Lansing (46-20) scored its one run against Rea in the second inning. Kevin Pillar walked and then stole second. K.C. Hobson drove him in with a double to right field.
Fort Wayne (31-36) appeared to get a bad break in the bottom of the inning.
Yeison Asencio tried to score on a single to right field by Duanel Jones. He was called out at the plate, even though it looked as if he slid in ahead of the tag by Lansing catcher Carlos Perez.
Asencio decided to use his bat to produce runs for the TinCaps later in the game.
He drove in Kyle Gaedele with a two-out single in the bottom of the third inning to tie the game.
Kyung-Min Na doubled leading off the fifth for Fort Wayne. He moved to third on a single by Casey McElroy.
Asencio drove him in with an infield single.
McElroy later scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-1. Austin Hedges knocked in Asencio with a double to left field.
Shane Opitz knocked in Pillar with a single in the seventh to get the Lugnuts within 4-2.
Andy Burns and Hobson singled in the eighth inning off Haney. Patterson followed with a home run to center field.
Three-one (count), he threw too good of a pitch to hit, Valentin said.
Ajay Meyer retired all six TinCaps he faced for his 20th save. Fort Wayne closes the first half with three games at Bowling Green.
Hopefully, we are a better team offensively, and everything (in the second half), Valentin said.
And I think we can do it. We have the guys to do it.