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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Justin Lopez and the TinCaps try to earn a sixth straight home series win with a matchup against the Bowling Green Hot Rods tonight. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.  

Monday, August 19, 2019 5:40 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (24-31) vs. Bowling Green (32-23)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps have made a statement early in this four-game series against the Bowling Green Hot Rods, taking the first two games in a row in exciting fashion and contributing to a tightening of the Midwest League's Eastern Division standings. Fort Wayne is now winners of 10 of its last 12 games at home and it is sure to be another raucous atmosphere at Parkview Field tonight, provided the ominous clouds hanging over the ballpark this afternoon don't turn into rain.

Fort Wayne is trying to clinch a sixth consecutive series victory at home and can do so with another win tonight. The TinCaps have not lost a home series since getting swept in a short two-game set against the Lake County Captains on July 4 and 5. They've already clinched a split of this series against the Hot Rods and are looking for more against a team that came into Parkview Field winners of 7 of 10 and semi-comfortably in front in the divisional race.

To try to earn that series victory, the TinCaps will send 20-year-old right-hander Edwuin Bencomo to the mound. Bencomo will be making his second start since moving into the rotation and he was excellent in his first outing, earning a win in the series-finale against South Bend after pitching five innings and giving up just one run on five hits. His fastball-changeup combination, with an occasional slider mixed in, was effective against the Cubs and Bencomo got in a rhythm on the mound, working quickly and keeping the defense engaged, which was especially important because a 75-minute rain delay started the game. That's a winning formula for the 6-foot-2 righty and he'll try to use it tonight against a Bowling Green offense that is among the league's best, but has been relatively stifled in this series.

The Hot Rods will counter with a talented arm of their own, sending 20-year-old right-hander Zack Trageton to the mound. Trageton has been brilliant this season at short-season Hudson Valley and with Bowling Green. The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Trageton worked 38 1/3 innings at Hudson Valley and remarkably did not walk a single batter while striking out more than one per inning. In the Midwest League, he's given out two free passes (the horror!) in 17 1/3 innings, but has also whiffed 20 and posted a 2.08 ERA. The 2016 sixth-round pick appears to be coming into his own and the TinCaps will have to be swinging early in at-bats tonight, because Trageton is unlikely to give them free bases.

The TinCaps' offense hasn't been overly explosive in this series, but it has come up with some big hits when they've been needed. Ethan Skender has been a huge part of that, driving in four of Fort Wayne's seven runs in the series (two in each game), but he is getting a day off today, so others will have to step up. Agustin Ruiz hadn't been hitting particularly well lately, but he got a big go-ahead single Sunday and that might be enough to spark a hot streak for Fort Wayne's RBI leader.