Skies were overcast and gray at Parkview Field on Sunday afternoon.
Fitting, because the TinCaps’ losing streak goes on, and a franchise-tying skid is just a defeat away.
A five-run fifth inning helped West Michigan to a 7-6 victory, sending the TinCaps to their ninth straight loss.
With a loss at Great Lakes on Tuesday, the TinCaps can tie the franchise record for consecutive defeats in a single season.
When the team was called the Wizards, they lost 10 straight games in May 1995 in a 75-65 season.
The TinCaps (35-51, 5-12 second half) last won June 27 in South Bend.
They dropped the final three games of that series and were swept by Dayton and West Michigan (52-35, 11-6).
Manager Michael Collins held a closed-door team meeting after the latest defeat.
He said he used a measured tone and wanted to relieve some of the building tension.
Maybe some guys are starting to press, Collins said. When things aren’t going well, guys want to try to do more – maybe more than they’re capable of.
Next thing you know, you get out of your game and your comfort level.
Middle reliever Eric Yardley, who gave up two RBI singles in the decisive fifth, thought Collins’ address was right on the money.
These are frustrating times as competitive athletes, Yardley said. Nobody likes to get beat this many times in a row. You have to keep your head up and play our game.
One encouraging sign Sunday was Franmil Reyes, who went 2 for 4, hitting the ball pretty hard.
His mother, on a visit from the Dominican Republic, watched from the stands.
Reyes, the cleanup hitter, hasn’t homered since May 27, a stretch of 142 at-bats.
That’s never really a concern with Reyes for me, Collins said. As long as he’s taking good swings, I’m never going to be too concerned about him. He gets a lot of breaking balls, changeups.
The TinCaps scored the game’s first run in the third on a Whitecaps error.
They scored four more in the fourth, as Ryan Miller hit a two-run homer and Edwin Moreno an RBI double. On top of another run-scoring error, Fort Wayne led 5-1.
TinCaps right-hander Kyle Lloyd was pulled after 4 2/3 innings that ended with Jeff Holm’s two-run single.
Yardley (1-2) allowed two inherited runners to score, and Dustin Peterson’s 30th error handed West Michigan a 6-5 lead that wasn’t squandered.
Rey Bruguera’s RBI single in the sixth drew the TinCaps to 7-6.
As Fort Wayne travels to face a mediocre Loons team, the curiosity is whether the manager’s closed-door meeting might be a spark.
Nobody’s thrilled, Lloyd said. Everybody’s trying to come to the yard with energy. That’s all we can do. Hopefully the off day (today) resets everybody.