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The Journal Gazette

  • Katie Fyfe | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps open a four-game series against first-place Bowling Green tonight. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. It is the second-to-last homestand of the season for Fort Wayne.

Saturday, August 17, 2019 5:20 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (22-31) vs. Bowling Green (32-21)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps are back home and thank goodness for that. Fort Wayne went 2-4 in arguably its most important road trip of the season, losing 2 of 3 to South Bend and Lansing and capping off the trip with a brutal 19-1 loss to the Lugnuts that set TinCaps season marks for most runs given up and biggest margin of defeat (or victory). In a game that could have earned Fort Wayne a split of the trip and a big series victory over Lansing, it was a disappointing flop.

So Fort Wayne comes back to Parkview Field today for the second-to-last homestand of the season. The quality of competition doesn't get any lower after a week of facing playoff contenders, either: the TinCaps will take on first-place Bowling Green for four games beginning tonight at 7:05 p.m. The playoffs are a mere pipe dream for the TinCaps at this point, but they could throw a wrench into the race for the division title if nothing else this week.

The TinCaps will be without a couple of key players for tonight's matchup and almost certainly for the rest of the season. Outfielder Tyler Benson, who had five steals in the last six games, and infielder Lee Solomon, who had been here all season and leads the team with 21 doubles, were both promoted Saturday. Benson, a 31st-round pick in 2017, will move straight to Double-A Amarillo, while Solomon will take the more direct upward route with an assignment in High-A Lake Elsinore. Solomon has been a fixture at first base this year for the TinCaps and his stretches and contortions on errant throws there were some of the most exciting defensive plays of the season. Benson was getting on base at a .364 clip in 20 games with Fort Wayne and had been a terror on the basepaths recently. 

To fill the roster spots created by those promotions, the Padres sent the TinCaps a pair of rookie-league infielders, 22-year-olds Ripken Reyes and Chris Givins, who were both mid-round selections in the 2019 draft. Both players have raked in rookie ball with Reyes getting on base at a .415 clip and stealing 15 bases in 42 games and Givins hitting a blistering .356 and slugging .508. Both have earned this promotion, though one of them could see their season end if/when CJ Abrams comes back.

For the series-opener against the Hot Rods today, Fort Wayne will send 22-year-old flamethrower Adrian Martinez to the mound. The 6-foot-2 right-hander is making his second start since moving into the rotation following the promotion of Fort Wayne lefty Joey Cantillo. He had an excellent outing in South Bend, going 5 2/3 innings in his longest start of the year and giving up just two runs on five hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Manager Anthony Contreras said he wanted to see Martinez lean into catcher Blake Hunt's experience more, as the times the pitcher got in trouble against the Cubs generally came when he shook off Hunt. That's an easily fixable issue and Martinez could be in for a big performance tonight.

The Hot Rods will counter with 21-year-old right-hander Easton McGee, who is 7-4 in 21 appearances (19 starts) with a 3.64 ERA this season. McGee is on a terrific roll lately, turning in quality starts in seven of his last eight outings and striking out a season-high eight in his most recent start. His last truly bad start happened to be against the TinCaps in Bowling Green on June 13, when he gave up seven runs on seven hits in three innings. Then again, he pitched five shutout innings in an earlier start against Fort Wayne.

The TinCaps into the portion of the season where it is playing mostly as a spoiler. They are trying to keep Bowling Green from running away with the division crown and begin erasing the memory of that blowout loss Friday. 

dsinn@jg.net