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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, July 22, 2018 11:40 pm

TinCaps have dropped 12 of 14 games after doubleheader sweep

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps have hit their roughest stretch of the season, going 2-12 in their last 14 games and dropping eight in a row at home. They lost 7-5 in Game 1 and 4-2 in Game 2 on Sunday against the Clinton LumberKings, failing to come up with a big hit in the late innings of either contest and generally playing sloppy baseball.

Manager Anthony Contreras bemoaned the five errors his team committed in the two games and said they need to be better at making the routine plays in the field. It's a point he's made repeatedly this season and Fort Wayne had seemingly ironed out its early-season defensive woes as it started 11-4 in the second half.

Those problems have come roaring back recently, however. It's possible that there is some fatigue setting in because many of the the TinCaps' players are in their first full season of professional baseball and haven't played this many games before. Contreras acknowledged that issue but downplayed it.

"Everybody is going through the same season," the manager said. "It's easy to look at their age and say that they are tired possibly, but on the other hand, they're 18, 19 years old, you know how much energy we had when we were 18, 19 years old. It is a full season of baseball, July and August are the hardest months to get through, but they have to find a way."

The TinCaps came into the day having scored two runs or fewer in six of their last seven games and finally broke out with five runs in the first contest, closing what at one juncture was a 7-2 deficit to just two runs by the end of the game. Even then, however, they went quietly in the eighth and ninth. In the second game, Fort Wayne again scored just two runs, hitting several balls hard right at LumberKings players in crucial moments. 

"We gotta keep grinding," left-fielder Robbie Podorsky said. "We don't have too many of our hitters who are super-hot right now, so we're just grinding away. Trying to keep fighting, trying to put the ball in play, bunt. Eventually it's going to work our way."

One of the bright spots on offense for the TinCaps was catcher Luis Campusano, who had five hits in the two games, including a double that left his bat at 105 mph. He also scored a run and drove in one.

"He's doing a better job lately of staying within himself," Contreras said of Campusano. "He got a little jumpy for a while, kind of swinging outside his zone. We talk about being disciplined on pitches that we can handle.

"He started feeling good and when you're feeling good, you start to think you can hit everything and you can start to expand the zone a little too much instead of staying disciplined. I think he's starting to come back and realize, 'I do these things well,' and stay within himself."

The TinCaps have one more game Monday against the LumberKings, one more chance to avoid a winless homestand. After that, they'll have seven in a row on the road. Monday's game isn't a must-win by any means, but Fort Wayne needs to turn this slide around soon if it wants to remain in playoff contention in the season's final stretch.

dsinn@jg.net