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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, April 22, 2018 7:30 pm

TinCaps end homestand 4-2: Final thoughts

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps didn't really win the game Sunday. Sure, they had more runs when it was over, but this was a game the Dragons lost.

Fort Wayne scored three runs in the fourth inning without a hit to overcome an early deficit and then later scored the winning run when right fielder Michael Beltre committed two errors on the same play to turn a Reinaldo Ilarraza single into a "home run."

The Dragons committed zero errors in any of the three games against the South Bend Cubs in their previous series, but had seven miscues against the TinCaps, including four in the rubber match today. That's a big part of the story of this series, and the TinCaps played opportunistic baseball all weekend, not letting Dayton off the hook when the visitors booted the ball around the field.

Of course, the TinCaps made plenty of their own luck today, scoring three runs after two were out in the fifth inning thanks to clutch hits from Carlos Belen and Juan Fernandez. The bullpen was also excellent most of the day, pitching six innings and limiting the Dragons to just three runs, including none in the final three frames.

The bullpen has been one of the team's weaknesses all season, as I've written on this blog multiple times, but it was excellent in the two victories this weekend, working 10 innings and giving up only four runs. Jared Carkuff was one of the game's stars out of the bullpen today, pitching 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball to close out the game, while giving up just two hits, a walk and a hit-batter. Carkuff has spent time at Triple-A in each of the last two seasons, so it's possible he's not long for the Midwest League, but while the TinCaps have him, their bullpen will get a big boost. He, Ben Sheckler and Jordan Guerrero have all been solid in relief, finally giving Fort Wayne some options in the late innings.

The TinCaps finished the homestand with two straight victories and went 4-2 at Parkview Field this week. They won't be back there until April 30, but they have a chance to continue their hot streak with four games against the last-place Great Lakes Loons coming up next. 

The good news for TinCaps fans is they probably won't miss any MacKenzie Gore starts while the team is on the road. Manager Anthony Contreras said after the game Gore isn't ready to pitch yet as the organization waits for his blister to completely heal.

"They're gonna wait for that finger to be fully 100 percent before he gets going," Contreras said. "We don't want to throw him back out there when we think he's ok and then he develops a blister again and then we're doing it all over again. So they're gonna take as much precaution as possible right now to make sure that blister's not recurring."