The TinCaps have struggled recently to score runs in the late innings. That wasn't a problem Monday night because there were no late innings.
The Lansing Lugnuts had a 5-4 lead after seven innings at Parkview Field when rain deluged the stadium, ending the game prematurely and completing a three-game sweep for Lansing in front of an announced crowd of 6,186.
The Lugnuts (67-47, 24-20 second half) scored all five of their runs in the sixth and seventh innings and had plenty of help from the TinCaps to do it. Fort Wayne (51-61, 19-25) committed four errors and catcher Jalen Washington had three passed balls, making four of the five Lansing runs unearned.
Of those five runs, three scored on passed balls or wild pitches.
The winning tally came across on a passed ball in the seventh.
“It's just the focus in the game,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “You've gotta be able to pay attention, and understand what's going on for nine innings. You can't get complacent, can't be OK with a two-run lead.”
The mistakes ruined a dominant start from right-hander Luis Patiņo. The 18-year-old had terrific stuff, retiring the first 10 hitters he faced, including six by strikeout. His fastball reached a Parkview Field high for him at 98 mph and he even got a swinging strikeout with a sharp-breaking curveball, a pitch he rarely throws.
“I've been working for the last five days with coach (Burt) Hooton on my curveball,” Patiņo said. “Because two years ago, my curveball was my best pitch, but now it's not, so I need to work on that.”
Patiņo took a no-hitter into the sixth for the fourth time this season, but gave up a double and a run-scoring single to start that sixth. He pitched 51/3 innings while equaling a career-high with eight strikeouts and giving up one earned run.
“He's had a solid game plan and he's just been in attack mode from there,” Washington said. “He's just pitching to his strengths and things have been working out for him. I love his mindset that he brings, day in and day out, he's just a competitor.”
The TinCaps jumped out to an early lead, scoring a pair of runs in the third inning.
Jack Suwinski opened the scoring with a ground-ball single to right on a 3-0 pitch and Gabriel Arias drove a long fly ball to left that one-hopped the wall for a double, driving in Suwinski to make it 2-0.
The Lugnuts scored four times in the sixth against Patiņo and reliever Jose Quezada to take a 4-2 advantage, but Fort Wayne responded with two in the bottom half to knot the score at 4. Arias doubled again in the sixth and finished 2 for 3 with a pair of doubles, extending his season-high on-base streak to 16 games.
Lightning flashed over Parkview Field beginning in the fifth inning and rain began falling in the sixth, so the teams played the final two innings in front of a nearly-empty stadium.
The umpires held off on calling the game until the rain really began pouring down after the end of the seventh inning, cutting short any thoughts of a Fort Wayne comeback.