Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps’ Brad Zunica hit one of the team’s four home runs Friday against the West Michigan Whitecaps at Parkview Field. His sacrifice fly put the TinCaps up for good.
Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps' Nate Easley safely steals second base during the third inning of Friday night's game at Parkview Field. At left is West Michigan second baseman Anthony Pereira.
Saturday, August 05, 2017 1:00 am
TinCaps 16, West Michigan 3
4 home runs fuel blowout
Fort Wayne avoids sweep with season high in runs, hits
CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette
Lake Bachar pitched well for the TinCaps on Friday night, but he also had fortunate timing for his first Midwest League start.
Brad Zunica, Jack Suwinski, Marcus Greene Jr. and Fernando Tatis Jr. supplied home runs, and Fort Wayne blasted first-place West Michigan 16-3 at Parkview Field to avoid a three-game sweep.
“After the last two games, these guys needed a game like this to get back on track and get their confidence back up again,” TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said. “This team has shown they can do this on any given night. We want to give all our starters a cushion, help them relax, and (especially) in Lake's case with his first start.”
Fort Wayne (52-59, 26-15 second half) posted a season-high run total and had 12 hits by the end of the sixth inning and a season-high 18 in all, more than enough to support Bachar, who went five innings and gave up just two runs on five hits.
“He showed good (stuff) the other day when he piggybacked (Adrian) Morejon,” Contreras said. “Happy to have him in the rotation.”
In front of an announced crowd of 7,002 on a windy, overcast evening, the TinCaps' offense repeatedly used the long ball to its advantage.
Greene's two-run homer, his 11th of the season, made it 5-2 after three. Tatis' fourth-inning solo shot, his 18th, pushed the lead to four, and Zunica's 17th, a two-run blast, made it 10-3 in the sixth. Suwinski led off the seventh with his eighth homer.
“Home runs are going to come,” Greene said. “For the most part, we're just trying to produce as a team.”
West Michigan (73-33, 28-11) led 2-0 in the second but gave up eight unanswered runs to trail 8-2 after five. Whitecaps starter Anthony Castro, who entered 8-3 with a 2.36 ERA, allowed a season-worst eight runs on nine hits in 41/3 innings.
“The last time he faced us, he kind of dealt,” said Contreras, referencing Castro's six scoreless innings against Fort Wayne on May 25, when the 22-year-old right-hander had 12 strikeouts.
This time, the TinCaps jumped on Castro early. They evened the score in the second on Reinaldo Ilarraza's two-run double, went ahead the next inning on Zunica's sacrifice fly and never looked back as they finished 5-2 on a seven-game homestand.
“We wanted to get after him early,” Contreras said. “These guys did a good job of that.”
The TinCaps, who open a four-game series at Great Lakes tonight, hadn't scored that many runs since posting 17 on Labor Day in 2015.
Fort Wayne underwent a bullpen shuffle Friday, with struggling right-hander Wilmer Torres sent down to short-season Tri-City. He had given up seven runs in his past seven outings and threw 32 pitches Thursday in the TinCaps' 9-7 loss.
Promoted to low-A Fort Wayne was another righty, Jordan Guerrero, who had 12 consecutive scoreless innings at Tri-City. He made his TinCaps debut with a scoreless eighth. A first baseman, G.K. Young, pitched the ninth.