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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, June 17, 2018 12:10 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (31-37) vs. Great Lakes (24-43)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The final game of the season's first half has arrived. The TinCaps can complete the first portion of the schedule with a sweep if they beat the Loons today after taking a thrilling 2-1 victory Saturday on a game-winning dash home from Robbie Podorsky after a wild pitch.

After getting solid performances from both MacKenzie Gore and Aaron Leasher in Saturday's victory, the TinCaps will turn to big right-hander Mason Thompson to try to complete the three-game sweep.

Thompson is coming off arguably his best start of the season. His stat line was relatively pedestrian – he gave up two runs in five innings while striking out three – but his stuff was easily the best it's been this season. After sitting 90-91 mph with his fastball most of the year, he ratcheted it up to 93-95 mph and showed improved command of the pitch. He said that he feels like he's getting stronger as the season goes on, so it's possible those gains carry over into this start. In that start, he retired the first 11 hitters he faced and both runs he gave up scored after he exited the game.

Manager Anthony Contreras said the ball was "jumping out of (Thompson's) hand" and that the 6-foot-7 right-hander is doing a better job of attacking hitters early in counts, which has helped him cut down his walks and his pitch counts overall. Thompson has flashed some high-end ability a few times this season, but hasn't really put together a run of great outings yet. If he can have another good one today, he'll go into the All-Star Break with momentum and be poised for a big second half.

The Loons will send 21-year-old left-hander Leo Crawford to the mound in their final matchup of the first half. Crawford has had a strange season, beginning the year as a reliever in High-A and then moving up to Triple-A for one appearance out of the bullpen (where he gave up three runs in 1/3 of an inning) before landing back in Great Lakes, where he spent all of last season. He's now a starter for the Loons and has been pretty good at it, posting a 3.44 ERA. He's also walked only four hitters in 34 innings, so the TinCaps should be ready to hit strikes early in at-bats.

The Fort Wayne offense was mostly quiet last night, going in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth before pushing across the winning run in the ninth. Podorsky, who has six hits and four runs scored in the last two games, is not in the lineup today so others will have to step up. All-Star catcher Luis Campusano is playing first base, but he has been one of the team's hottest hitters in the last month, posting a .308/.403/.400 line since May 15.

dsinn@jg.net