The homestand is off to a good start. The TinCaps had plenty of energy tonight from the first pitch, pushing across six runs in the bottom of the first with a succession of soft singles and walks. Manager Anthony Contreras said he could tell that Loons pitcher Melvin Jimenez was having trouble throwing strikes and so he gave the take sign a lot in that first inning, intent on not allowing the Great Lakes pitcher to regain his composure.
The TinCaps put themselves in great position for the rest of the series by forcing the Great Lakes bullpen to throw 7 2/3 innings tonight after knocking Jimenez from the game with just one out recorded in the first. The Great Lakes bullpen pitched well, giving up just two hits and striking out seven, but it will be depleted for the final two games of this series.
Meanwhile, Fort Wayne seems to have found a stopper. Nick Margevicius has been excellent for three starts in a row to start the season, pitching into the sixth all three times, and he was at his best tonight, throwing a ton of fastballs for strikes and occasionally dropping a curveball on unsuspecting hitters. He gave up a lot of hits, but that was because he refused to give the Loons any free bases and remained aggressive even with runners on base.
The home run from hometown hero Zach McKinstry was that type of at-bat. Margevicius got ahead 0-1 and then decided to throw another fastball near the plate. It simply caught too much of the plate and McKinstry didn't miss, driving it 348 to right for his first homer of the season. He's been easily the Loons best hitter this season, already proving that he probably belongs at a higher level. After a 3 for 4 night tonight, his batting average is at .428 and his OBP is .556. This is a small sample size, but he certainly hasn't been fooled by Midwest League pitching.
Outside of McKinstry's big fly, the TinCaps' pitchers were excellent tonight. Margevicius went 5 1/3, giving up just those three runs from the homer and reliever Travis Radke was dominant. The left-hander threw 2 2/3 frames after Margevicius, striking out the side in the seventh and eighth and finishing with seven strikeouts. Even better, the TinCaps limited their walks. They've walked a total of seven hitters in the last four games after walking seven in one inning in their last home game. If they can keep those free passes under control, a lot of the TinCaps' pitchers have the stuff to be dominant hurlers.
This was a good, solid team win for Fort Wayne, the kind that has positives in every corner of the box score. Jeisson Rosario walked three times. The TinCaps didn't commit an error. They made the most of their scoring chances when they had them. A McKintry home run in a TinCaps win was probably the best possible scenario for the few hardy fans who braved the mid-30s temperatures.