Aggression pays off for TinCaps
There isn't much more to say than the stat line: 21 hits, 17 runs.
The TinCaps dominated Lansing's pitching staff Saturday, just as they did in a 7-3 win Friday when they racked up 15 hits as snow came down on Parkview Field. Fort Wayne has 36 hits in the past two days and will look to round out its series with the Lugnuts in similar fashion Sunday.
There was plenty of pop for both teams during the game, which went nearly three and a half hours and included 35 hits and 25 runs. The difference, manager Jose Valentin said, was the timeliness of the TinCaps' hits.
Fort Wayne ran the basepaths aggressively, as well, in the win. The club stole three bases, extended a couple hits and managed to use that mentality to force throwing errors on a couple of plays, which led to even more runs.
Once things broke open in the seventh inning, Lansing couldn't find an answer. The Lugnuts put five pitchers on the mound and threw 188 pitches as a staff, to ill effect.
Relievers step up in crunch time
Ruben Mejia was the hero defensively Saturday, putting together seven-straight strikeouts to stop the bleeding and allow his team to take the lead over Lansing. After a confusingly inconsistent outing from No. 2 starter Max Fried, it was just what Valentin wanted to see from his pitching staff.
This is a team that is capable of generating offense at any time, as Friday and Saturday showed. What Valentin needs, he said, is for his starters and relievers to be willing to throw to spots and throw aggressively. If a hitter turns on one, fine. But throwing tentatively, and trying to go one-on-one with hitters and strike every batter out, will end even worse.
It's a message Mejida certainly took to heart Saturday. He went after batters, putting the ball low to force grounders and, in doing so, fanned seven in a row.