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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, May 20, 2018 4:20 pm

TinCaps beat South Bend 3-1, complete sweep

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

How it Happened

The decisive rally came in the seventh inning, just as it did on Saturday. Once again, the TinCaps (20-22) entered the inning trailing, this time 1-0, and once again they rallied against a South Bend reliever. That reliever was Jose Albertos, who has struggled with walks this season – although 29 free passes in 12 1/3 innings might count as more than "struggling" – and did so again Sunday.

The right-hander walked three hitters, loading the bases with two outs for Jeisson Rosario. After a pitching change, Rosario ripped a ball up the middle that took a wicked hop off shortstop Rafael Narea's chest and turned into a two-run, go-ahead single. Esteury Ruiz followed with a single up the middle to make it 3-1 and the TinCaps had rallied from behind again.

The game's early innings were well-pitched, with the only run coming across on a Chris Singleton double for the Cubs (17-24) in the top of the third. Outside of that hit, both pitchers got plenty of whiffs and weak contact. The TinCaps' Tom Cosgrove mixed his 89-90 mph fastball with a slower curve to keep the Cubs off balance. He had some help from Gabriel Arias at short, who continued to show off his huge throwing arm with a couple of nice plays. The defense in general was rock-solid behind Cosgrove, who is mostly a pitch-to-contact hurler, though Arias later dropped a pop-up that probably should have been Carlos Belen's ball to catch.

The TinCaps, meanwhile, struggled against the South Bend starter for the second straight day. Right-hander Erich Uelmen worked quickly and aggressively, pumping strikes in early in at-bats and retiring eight straight hitters between the second and the fourth. The only Fort Wayne player who had any success against Uelmen and his side-winding delivery was Ruiz, who hit the ball hard twice, singling in the first and doubling in the fourth.

Cosgrove labored through the first inning and gave up the run in the third, but settled in as the game went along. He retired 10 straight between the third and sixth and capped off the fifth inning with a great battle against Singleton, who already had two hits in the game. After a 10-pitch at-bat, Cosgrove overpowered the center fielder with a 92 mph fastball for a swinging strikeout, the hardest pitch he'd thrown all afternoon.

Uelmen's dominance continued into the sixth inning. He clearly wanted no part of Ruiz in the second baseman's third plate appearance and gave him four straight balls low and away for a walk. The pitcher cruised through the rest of the inning to complete his outing and hand the game off to the bullpen with a lead for the second straight day.

Player of the Game: Esteury Ruiz

Ruiz had four good plate appearances in the game, going 3 for 3 with a double, walk and an RBI in the seventh. He also stole a base. He was the only TinCap able to touch Uelmen early and has four multi-hit games in his last seven. It was his fourth three-hit game of the season and he's second on the team with 20 RBI.

Facts and figures

The win is the TinCaps' fifth in a row, their longest streak of the season. They finished the homestand 6-1. ... Cosgrove made his first start since May 2, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up one run while striking out five. He'd pitched 12 straight scoreless innings in starts before surrendering a run in the third. ... Uelmen pitched six shutout innings for South Bend, striking out three and giving up three hits. Cubs starters pitched 12 straight shutout innings in the final two games of this series. ... Jose Albertos, who gave up the game-winning runs, came into this season ranked No. 3 on the Cubs' prospect list per Fangraphs, but had a 17.51 ERA coming into Sunday's game. He gave three runs in a third of an inning today, despite hitting 97 with his fastball. ... The Cubs didn't commit an error after making nine in the first two games of this series. ... The Fort Wayne bullpen pitched 3 1/3 innings and has worked 14 innings while only giving up one run over the last four games. Caleb Boushley pitched 2 1/3 innings to get the win and Jordan Guerrero and Travis Radke combined to work a scoreless ninth. ... The TinCaps came into the game just 4-18 in games in which they scored four runs or fewer. ... Tirso Ornelas went 0 for 3 with a walk, snapping a five-game hitting streak. 

What's next?

The TinCaps embark on an eight-game road trip Monday when they travel to Comstock Park, Michigan to take on the West Michigan Whitecaps. They'll play four against the Whitecaps and then four against the first-place Lansing Lugnuts, who recently won nine games in a row. Left-hander Osvaldo Hernandez will start Monday's game, which begins at 7:05 p.m.