The TinCaps dropped the first two games of the second half Friday and Saturday, but can still earn a split of this four-game series with a sweep of today's doubleheader. The twin bill was necessitated by rain on Thursday and again on Friday, moving around both teams' pitching schedules.
In Game 1, which begins at 1:05 p.m., the TinCaps will send big right-hander Mason Thompson to the mound. Thompson had good stuff in his most recent outing, a no-decision against the Great Lakes Loons. He hit 94 mph with his fastball and dropped in curveballs that were as slow as 69 mph for strikes. In one sequence, he got a swinging strike with a 92 mph fastball and started the next hitter with a 69-mph breaking ball for a called strike. That's extremely difficult for a hitter to adjust to.
On the other hand, Thompson also left too many fastballs over the plate and gave up nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. He only walked one, but his command wasn't great. The TinCaps will be looking for him to go much deeper into the game today to save the bullpen for Game 2, so he'll need to keep his pitch count down.
In that second game, Fort Wayne will send left-hander Tom Cosgrove to the mound to start. Cosgrove hasn't pitched in 11 days, but in his two most recent starts, he's gone six innings and given up three earned runs apiece. The 22-year-old has been mostly solid this season, but a couple of really rough starts at the beginning of the season have helped balloon his ERA to 5.03. Despite that inflated ERA, he's struck out nearly a batter per inning and he's given out free passes relatively infrequently.
The key today will be for the TinCaps offense to do better in the clutch. They had plenty of chances to score in a tight game Saturday night, but left runners on third base in three different innings and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position. Manager Anthony Contreras said he liked that his team has rallied after falling behind early in two straight games, but he thought they gave away a few at-bats in the late innings in Saturday's loss. The best bet to get going in the clutch is Tirso Ornelas, who has gotten on base in 23 straight games, a team-best this season. Ornelas tripled in a run Saturday and is now getting on base at a .361 clip this season. His .782 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage), is 20 percent better than the league average despite Ornelas being close to three years younger than the average Midwest League player.
The second game of the doubleheader will begin half an hour after the conclusion of the first.