TinCaps vs. Lansing
Where: Parkview Field
When: 7:05 p.m. today
Pitchers: Sam Keating (TinCaps) vs. Cobi Johnson (Lugnuts)
TV: Xfinity 81
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM
The TinCaps believe there's plenty of potential for success this season. Despite winning only 16 of their first 38 games, they may have notified the rest of the Midwest League exactly that Thursday night with an impressive performance offensively and defensively.
The TinCaps defeated the Lansing Lugnuts 9-0, getting 13 of the game's 14 hits.
Things may have been worse for the Lugnuts (17-22) had a thunderstorm not halted the game after six innings in front of an announced crowd of 4,879 at Parkview Field.
Leading the way for Fort Wayne was pitcher Joey Cantillo, who worked all six innings and gave up only a hit to Rafael Lantigua in the second inning. The lefty struck out six and didn't walk anyone.
“The biggest thing was my fastball command and getting ahead in the counts,” said Cantillo, who is 1-2 with a 3.21 ERA with 38 strikeouts and 12 walks over 28 innings this season. “The changeup was working for the most part. I think I got ahead in the count a few times and got some flyballs. Weak contact is all you can ask for there. And the curveball that I've been working on, I was able to mix it in there in the count and get some strikes. So all pitches were working.”
While Lansing's starter, Sean Wymer, was exploited for nine runs and 12 hits over 52/3 innings, Cantillo put on a show.
“The ability to get ahead early (was there for him), and the changeup was working while the occasional curveball was keeping them offset. Being able to keep their eye level going up and down was pretty much the story of the night for him,” TinCaps manager Anthony Contreras said. “(Catcher) Blake Hunt and him worked really well together tonight.”
Cantillo, 19, the youngest pitcher in the Midwest League – one day younger than teammate Ryan Weathers – was a 16th-round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2017.
“He has the ability to do that more times than not,” Contreras said of Thursday's performance. “He stays within himself and is a very, very good pitcher and he can do some special things if he stays locked in like he was tonight.”
Fort Wayne pitchers have walked the fewest batters in the league, 116 over 319 innings.
“We preach getting ahead early, filling up the strike zone and letting the defense behind you (help). We've got defenders behind them that can pick it and they just need to trust it,” Contreras said.
Cantillo added: “It starts with our pitching coach, Matt Williams, and just our organization has stressed to just throw strikes. ... I think every guy trusts their stuff and is really confident, and that's why we can pound the zone.”
But the TinCaps' offense was also formidable, led by Tucupita Marcano's and Grant Little's 3-for-4 nights. Little, an outfielder, has hit safely in seven straight – going 10 of 24 – on the heels of a 0-for-22 stretch from April 25 to May 3.
Jawuan Harris grounded a two-run single to left in the second inning. Luis Almanzar's triple brought in two in the third. And Justin Lopez's sixth-inning triple also brought home a pair.