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The Journal Gazette

  • Photos by Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette TinCaps second baseman Reinaldo Ilarraza looks for the ball as Great Lakes' Moises Perez slides into second base during the third inning Monday night at Parkview Field.

  • Starter Osvaldo Hernandez allowed four runs and five hits in 51/3 innings in his initial TinCaps start.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017 1:00 am

Great Lakes 5, TinCaps 3

Newcomers adjusting to surroundings

TinCaps sputter after losing Tatis

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Life without Fernando Tatis Jr. began in earnest for the TinCaps on Monday night, and it wasn't pretty.

Great Lakes starting pitcher Dustin May, his red mop of hair flowing, stifled Fort Wayne's depleted lineup on the way to a 5-3 win at Parkview Field, spoiling Osvaldo Hernandez's initial start as a TinCap.

A 19-year-old Cuban right-hander, Hernandez left after 51/3 innings. He and his team were down 3-1 largely because of May's dominance. Hernandez pitched reasonably well, giving up four runs, five hits and striking out five batters.

“It was pretty good,” Fort Wayne manager Anthony Contreras said. “The ability and confidence to throw a breaking ball (was evident). A lot of these Cuban pitchers like to go to that breaking ball, which, if it's working, it's working, and I think just like (Gabriel) Arias he has to get his feet wet playing in front of a crowd in this type of atmosphere.”

Arias, 17, will replace Tatis as the everyday shortstop. Tatis said his goodbyes after Sunday's 2-1 loss to Great Lakes and flew to Double-A San Antonio, where he hopes to show off the power that allowed him to hit a franchise-record 21 home runs for low-A Fort Wayne.

After being promoted Saturday from the Arizona Rookie League, Arias has gone 1 for 12, but he hasn't committed an error, and Contreras insists he can do the job in the Midwest League.

“It's been limited views, but I got to see him in spring and instructional league last year, and (Arias is) very sure-handed defensively,” Contreras said. “I think that's where his strengths are is slick fielding. The bat, it's there. He has a lot of power for a 17-year-old kid, and getting him out here when we did gives him time to get his feet wet.”

The TinCaps' magic number to clinch a playoff spot is down to eight. They have 13 games remaining. The next two weekends, there are big series against Lansing and West Michigan on the road. The other six games include three with the last-place Captains in Lake County, starting Tuesday, plus three more at home with Great Lakes.

The Loons (63-63, 27-30 second half) took three of the four games in this wraparound series as Hernandez had trouble matching May, who threw eight innings and gave up just two runs on five hits with six strikeouts.

The TinCaps (61-66, 35-22) know replacing Tatis' offense is no small chore, but Hudson Potts, named Midwest League Player of the Week earlier in the day, remained one of their hottest hitters. He finished 2 for 3 with a solo homer, his 16th of the year, and a walk.

Tatis usually hit in the No. 3 spot, traditionally granted to the batting order's most well-rounded threat, and that's where Contreras wants to pencil in Potts' name. This month, Potts is batting .392 (29 for 74).

“He's doing a good job making adjustments and proving why he was a first-round pick,” Contreras said. “As long as he's staying hot, I'll keep him there.”

Tatis' roster spot was filled by the return of utility man Tyler Benson from short-season Tri-City.

“I'm here,” Benson said, “to help this team win.”