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.
Friday, August 17, 2018 12:40 am
TinCaps win fourth straight, second game rained out
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
Rain fell most of the night Thursday, but there was about a two-hour window of clear skies in which the TinCaps and South Bend Cubs were able to play one seven-inning game. The TinCaps won it 5-1, extending their longest winning streak in a month to four games and drawing even once again with West Michigan for the top spot in the second-half Eastern Division standings.
Osvaldo Hernandez pitched five innings and gave up one run on five hits while striking out four. He didn't have his best command – he walked three – and manager Anthony Contreras said the left-hander didn't pitch nearly as well as he had in recent starts. He also had at least two plays behind him that probably should have been made (one an error, one scored a hit), both of which he followed up with walks. Contreras has talked about Hernandez needing to settle himself when things don't go his way and walking a batter after an error as Hernandez did Thursday is exactly the type of situation in which he has room for improvement. In the fifth, with the TinCaps up 5-1, the Cubs had two runners on after the error and the walk, prompting a visit from pitching coach Burt Hooton.
"(Burt)'s just trying to calm (Hernandez) down," Contreras said. "We're up by four and he's throwing breaking balls 2-0. We want him to go after hitters and try to get outs as quick as we can and we didn't want him messing around with hitters.
"That's what we're here for, our job is to coach him in situations like that."
Hernandez now leads the league in wins and ERA, two of the three categories in the pitching triple crown. Unfortunately he's far enough behind in the third category (strikeouts) that he's unlikely to reach that level, but it's been a wildly successful season for him regardless.
The TinCaps scored in each of the first four innings and had put the game away by the fifth. Esteury Ruiz homered, his 12th of the season, an impressive opposite field shot, while Gabriel Arias and Hunter Jarmon each chipped in RBI doubles.
With the game in hand, Contreras brought in left-hander Dan Dallas to pitch the final two innings. Dallas was called up from Tri-City on Tuesday after striking out 45 in 26 2/3 innings there and he did not disappoint in his first appearance in Fort Wayne. He struck out three in two scoreless innings, despite some early struggles with keeping his curveball down. The curveball is very good in general and complements his 90-92 mph fastball well. Dallas said he's excited to be with the TinCaps.
"I think it's unbelievable, the stadium itself and a good fan base," the 20-year-old Dallas said. "Guys on the team, defense behind us (pitchers), coaching staff, put it all together, it's almost like a big-league experience here.
He was particularly impressed by Parkview Field.
"In group chats (with Padres minor-leaguers), there's always pictures going around of this place," he said. "Everyone's talking about it, it's the talk of the Padres' system, this field and El Paso (Southwest University Park), so to get here and finally experience it myself is an awesome opportunity."
The second game of the scheduled doubleheader was rained out, necessitating a second doubleheader Friday. Once again, both games will be seven innings. Of course, rain is also in the forecast for Friday night.