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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps and outfielder Dwanya Williams-Sutton will try to earn a series victory over the Bowling Green Hot Rods tonight. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 6:20 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (24-32) vs. Bowling Green (33-23)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps finish their four-game series against the first-place Bowling Green Hot Rods tonight, looking to win their third game in the set and capture their sixth straight home series before heading out for their final road trip of the season. Dark clouds hang over Parkview Field as the game approaches and thunderstorms are in the forecast, so these teams will have to dodge some weather if they are going to get this game in. They don't play each other again this season, so if tonight's game is cancelled, it almost certainly won't be made up.

The first three games of this series have been close and well-played. The TinCaps won the first two by a total of three runs and then fell 4-3 on Monday, after a thrilling ninth-inning comeback fell inches short with Ethan Skender getting thrown out at the plate for the third out. Despite that defeat, it was encouraging to see the TinCaps battle after falling behind 4-0 early and they have proven they aren't intimidated by the division-leading Hot Rods.

The TinCaps will send 20-year-old left-hander Omar Cruz to the mound to try to clinch another series victory. Cruz has been excellent since being promoted to Fort Wayne in late June and has been especially good over his last three starts. In those three outings, dating back to July 26, Cruz has given up one earned run in 16 2/3 innings while striking out 16 and walking four. Overall, he has a 2.78 ERA in seven starts with the TinCaps and is striking out nearly 11 hitters per nine innings. He's been one of Fort Wayne's best starters since Joey Cantillo and Gabe Mosser were promoted.

The Hot Rods will counter with 20-year-old right-hander Shane Baz, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 draft. Baz didn't start pitching this season until May, but he is 3-2 with a 3.10 ERA in 14 starts, while whiffing more than a batter per inning. His walk rate is high (4 BB/9), but the one time he pitched against the TinCaps he turned in a quality start, going six innings and giving up two runs while striking out six and walking one. He throws a fastball, curveball and cutter that are all plus pitches and has a delivery that Fangraphs calls "explosive." The website ranks him the No. 4 prospect in the loaded Rays organization, so the TinCaps could be in for a tough night at the plate. If they get a runner on in the first four innings, they'll have a better night than they did Monday.

The TinCaps will also be without one of their best relievers for the game tonight and for the rest of the season. Right-hander Mason Fox, who took the Midwest League by storm in his six appearances here will now be playing for the Storm in High-A Lake Elsinore. The 22-year-old right-hander, who struck out 16, walked none and did not give up a run in eight innings with the TinCaps, was promoted today. It's a tough break for Fort Wayne, but Fox wasn't challenged at this level. He could be on the fast track for the big leagues with his high-powered fastball-curveball combo.

In Fox's place, the Padres promoted 20-year-old left-hander Ramon Perez back to Fort Wayne. Perez was on the TinCaps' Opening Day roster and made 11 appearances (10 starts) in the Midwest League before being demoted to short-season Tri-City just prior to the All-Star Break. There, he moved to the bullpen and has been solid, striking out 12.42 hitters per nine innings. His walk rate is still high, but he's earned another shot in Fort Wayne.

dsinn@jg.net