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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette TinCaps second baseman Esteury Ruiz throws the ball to first during the first inning Thursday to get out South Bend hitter Delvin Zinn.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Esteury Ruiz safely slides into second as the Cubs' Christian Donahue tries to get him out during the third inning at Parkview Field on Thursday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Osvaldo Hernandez catches the ball from the catcher during the first inning at Parkview Field on Thursday.

Thursday, August 16, 2018 11:50 pm

TinCaps win Game 1; doubleheader today

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Rain has turned the scheduled three-game series between the TinCaps and South Bend Cubs into a soggy, stop-and-start affair, keeping the tarp on the field more often than the players.

When the rain took a break Thursday night, the TinCaps and Cubs played one game of their scheduled doubleheader. Osvaldo Hernandez pitched five innings and gave up one run to lead Fort Wayne to a fourth straight win, 5-1, in front of an announced crowd of 6,269.

The second game of the scheduled doubleheader was rained out, so another doubleheader is scheduled for today, beginning at 5:35 p.m.

The size of the crowd was more than enough to push the TinCaps over 4 million fans since they moved into Parkview Field in 2009. The team celebrated the occasion by giving away $10,000 worth of merchandise, split between 31 fans. One fan, Kendallville resident Amy Johnson, received $4,000 worth of prizes as the designated 4 millionth fan.

“I was really surprised, very shocked,” Johnson said of when she learned she was the winner. “I thought it was for one of the $100 gift cards (of which the TinCaps gave away 20) and that my husband had won it.

“I even asked at one point because I still didn’t know, they told us we had to go somewhere and I asked at that point, ‘Well, what did we even win?’ So I was completely shocked, but it’s amazing.”

On the field, Hernandez continued his recent run of excellent starts, striking out four and earning his 11th victory victory to move into the league lead. His season ERA is 1.81, which is also the best in the league. The 20-year-old left-hander didn’t have his best stuff, but manager Anthony Contreras said he fought through it.

“I didn’t think he pitched great compared to the past starts that he’s had,” Contreras said. “But he battled and he got (two) big double plays that got him out of jams, and we’re grateful he got through the five innings with only one run to give us a chance to win a ballgame.”

The win was the fourth in a row for the TinCaps (55-61, 25-26 second half), the first time they’ve won four in a row since July 2-5.

They remain tied with West Michigan for the second-half Eastern Division playoff spot, lead, one game ahead of Great Lakes.

The Fort Wayne offense came up with some clutch hits for the second straight game after struggling to do so early in the homestand. The TinCaps went 3 for 8 with runners in scoring position, getting RBI doubles from Hunter Jarmon and Gabriel Arias.

Esteury Ruiz crushed a solo homer in the first, a 403-foot shot to right-center that was his team-leading 12th home run of the season.

After Hernandez got through five innings, left-hander Dan Dallas made his Midwest League debut, pitching two scoreless innings and striking out three to finish out the seven-inning game.

“It was good to finally get out there and get a couple of innings in and compete with the team, which is always fun,” said Dallas, who was called up from Tri-City on Tuesday.

Note: The TinCaps released their 2019 schedule Thursday. The 70-game home slate features 30 dates with fireworks. The team will open at home on April 4 against Lansing and will play at home July 4 for the 11th straight year.