FORT WAYNE – Thirty games remain in Fort Waynes regular season and the TinCaps are making a push to make the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
Fort Wayne has a 24-16 record in the second half, good for a tie for second in the Midwest Leagues Eastern Division.
Saturdays game against Bowling Green at Parkview Field was suspended because of rain in the second inning. The game will resume from that point at 3:05 p.m. today as part of a doubleheader. The TinCaps lead the Hot Rods 2-0.
The first game will be nine innings. The second game will be seven innings. James Needy will replace Matt Wisler on the mound for Fort Wayne when the game continues, manager Jose Valentin said. Cody Hebner will start the second game. He was the scheduled starter for todays game.
The top two teams in each division in each half qualify for the playoffs. If the first or second place teams in the second half already qualified in the first half, the next best team advances to the playoff. Lansing and Bowling Green qualified in the first half in the Eastern Division.
The TinCaps have the best record in the division among teams that did not qualify in the first half. Fort Wayne has a two-game lead over Lake County and a four-game lead on South Bend.
We have to continue to play the way were playing, Valentin said. We have to keep swinging. Hopefully our offense stays the same. Im not looking to get 10 or 12 hits a game, I just want to see some quality at-bats.
Fort Wayne has hit .271 in the second half. Kyle Gaedele is a perfect example of the improvement. He has a .328 batting average in the second half (he hit .200 in the first half and has increased his average to .248) He earned Midwest League Player of the Week on Monday. The TinCaps had a league-worst .234 average in the first half. Fort Wayne has a .248 average for the season.
Were getting good pitches to hit, Valentin said. Were not chasing too many bad pitches like we used to. Were putting the ball in play, were getting walks and I think were executing a lot better.
That was the case again in the first inning Saturday. The TinCaps scored their second run of the first inning on a two-out single to center by Lee Orr.
Were getting the guys over. Were getting the guys in with less than two outs, Valentin said. And we continue to play the game aggressive, stealing some bases.
Valentin would like to see longer outings from his starting pitchers. The starters have failed to go five innings in three of the last six games.
Lately our starters havent been as strong as wed like to be, Valentin said. I dont know if they are starting to get fatigued. We need our starters to go a little deeper.