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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, July 19, 2018 12:40 am

TinCaps drop 9th of 11 games, 6-2 to the Burlington Bees

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps played seven innings of solid baseball Wednesday night and seemed to be on their way to a win in the opening game of their six-game homestand. The game fell apart in the final two innings when a pair of Gabriel Arias errors helped the Burlington Bees push across five runs and come from behind to win 6-2.

The loss dropped Fort Wayne to 2-9 in its last 11 games and back to .500 in the second half.

Arias made three errors in the game and has 23 this season. Ordinarily such a tough game might warrant a night off Thursday, but Fort Wayne's other shortstop, Justin Lopez, is out with a thumb injury, so it will be interesting to see if the TinCaps put Kelvin Melean there for a night.

"He just has to make the routine plays," manager Anthony Contreras said of Arias. "You don't see these guys (Burlington) every single day, maybe they don't know the speed, but that's no excuse why he made the errors. He has to be aggressive and attack the ground balls and when you're nonchalant you can fall victim to those type of plays."

The biggest news from the game might have been the performance and then abrupt exit of right-hander Mason Thompson. Thompson was the "piggyback starter" behind Luis Patino, entering the game in the fifth inning and expected to work several innings. He pitched a scoreless fifth, striking out two hitters and hitting 97 mph with his fastball, which was the hardest manager Anthony Contreras had seen him throw "in a while." 

Thompson struck out the final hitter he faced with an elevated fastball, but that pitch came in at just 90 mph. He didn't return to the game and Contreras said Thompson "felt something in his arm" so the team took him out for precautionary reasons. With Thompson's history of arm and shoulder injuries, caution is certainly warranted, but he's been healthy this season.

Patino got the start for Fort Wayne, and he continued his string of dominant performances, going four innings and striking out six. His ERA is 2.28. He gave up one run on a couple of soft singles in the second inning, but was otherwise solid, especially with his fastball. He hit 97 mph and painted it on the outside corner on a regular basis. Contreras said he'd still like to see Patino be more aggressive with the pitch.

"The first inning (when Patino struck out two) was great," Contreras said. "He was aggressive, pounding the zone. I think he gets in trouble a little bit when he starts to kind of nibble too much and mess around with his pitches rather than just going right at them. That allows his pitch count to get up and instead of five innings it was four. He needs to recognize what these (hitters) are doing and be able to aggressively go at them."

Reliever Caleb Boushley took the hard-luck loss after pitching the eighth inning. Fort Wayne and Burlington will meet again Thursday in the second of the three-game set.