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The Journal Gazette

Friday, April 20, 2018 12:20 am

TinCaps fall short of sweep: Final thoughts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps won this series. It's probably helpful for fans to remember that because it didn't feel that way after tonight's game. After the Loons had helped the TinCaps' offense with walks all series, Fort Wayne returned the favor with Mason Thompson's six free passes in two-plus innings. 

Somewhere around the third walk in a row in the first inning, in which the pitches Thompson was throwing weren't particularly close to the plate, it became clear that he probably wouldn't pitch deep into this game. It seemed like Thompson was having some trouble with his release point, missing mostly high and low rather than inside and outside. In the second inning, he started missing in the strike zone, which can be even  more dangerous, as the right-hander found out when Nick Yarnall took him deep on a fastball over the middle at the knees. Burt Hooton clearly saw something amiss with Thompson very early, because he visited him on the mound after just three batters. 

To make the game even more lopsided, the TinCaps offense was stymied by the Great Lakes starter for the second game in a row. Fort Wayne totaled two hits in the first five innings of the last two games combined, both coming Wednesday against Edwin Uceta. Jesus Vargas somehow bested his teammate by mixing in all three of his pitches – fastball, curveball, changeup – and keeping the TinCaps so far off balance that they didn't hit any ball even particularly hard in Vargas' five innings. The only blemish on the pitcher's record was the three walks he gave up, which helped extend Great Lakes' already-large lead in walks per game among Midwest League teams. 

Despite the loss, Fort Wayne remained patient tonight, drawing six walks, bringing its total to 19 in the three-game series. The Loons walk a lot of hitters, but it's a good sign for the TinCaps that they're showing enough patience to take those walks. I keep mentioning Jeisson Rosario in this context, but he just keeps performing. Rosario walked three more times tonight, giving him 12 over his last five games. Rosario's on-base percentage is now .458 this season. Admittedly, it's a small sample size, but that's an incredibly impressive figure for an 18-year-old, one of the youngest players in the league. I'm interested to see whether Dayton makes an effort to attack him more directly, considering he hasn't hit for much power.

The TinCaps now start the second series in their homestand, taking on the first-place Dayton Dragons, a major step up in competition from the struggling Loons. We'll know much more about whether Fort Wayne has improved recently based on their performance over the next few days.