The Journal Gazette
Thursday, August 26, 2021 6:30 pm

Pregame: TinCaps (47-51) vs. Dayton (51-47)

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

The TinCaps saw a four-game winning streak come to an end in difficult fashion Wednesday as they fell 4-3 to the Dayton Dragons in 10 innings. Fort Wayne went 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position and was unable to complete a comeback after rallying from two runs down in the bottom of the eighth.

As the TinCaps try to bounce back from that defeat tonight, they'll host a special occasion at Parkview Field: a minor-league rehab assignment. Padres reliever Trey Wingenter is scheduled to pitch one inning out of the bullpen against the Dragons as part of his recovery from the Tommy John surgery he underwent in July 2020. Wingenter has already thrown three scoreless innings in the Arizona Complex League during his rehab assignment and the Padres are hoping he can help them down the stretch of the regular season. Wingenter, a flamethrower who pitched for the TinCaps in 2016 before spending part of 2018 and all of 2019 with the big-league club in San Diego, will be making the second Padres rehab appearance in Parkview Field history and the first since catcher Tim Federowicz was at the facility in 2015.

Wingenter will likely be one of the first arms out of the bullpen tonight in relief of Fort Wayne starter Connor Lehmann, who has been very good in his last two starts after struggling early in his Fort Wayne tenure following a late-July call-up from Low-A Lake Elsinore. In his last two starts, Lehmann has pitched 10 total innings and given up one run on seven hits while striking out six and walking four. The key to that recent success has been getting ahead of hitters. Lehmann's stuff isn't overpowering, but when he's throwing his fastball and good curveball for strikes, he's difficult to hit.

The 25-year-old right-hander has gone five innings in three of his last four starts and 4 2/3 in the fourth, so it's possible that Wingenter will make his appearance in the sixth inning tonight.

The Dragons will counter Lehmann with 24-year-old right-hander JC Keys, who has been a part-time starter for the team this season. Keys has only gone beyond 3 1/3 innings twice in 26 appearances between High-A and Double-A in 2021, so it's unlikely he pitches particularly deep into the game. The Dayton relief corps is already somewhat taxed after it went with a bullpen game in Wednesday's matchup, pitching starter Lyon Richardson only one inning and using five relievers to get through the final nine frames. As for Keys, he is coming off a rocky start in which he gave up six runs (two earned) on five hits in 1 2/3 innings against the Lake County Captains. The 2019 23rd-round pick of Southern Mississippi has a fairly pedestrian repertoire with a low-90s fastball, a curve and a changeup.

The Fort Wayne lineup facing Keys and the likely parade of Dragons relievers was held mostly in check in Wednesday's game, at least until Tirso Ornelas's game-tying, two-run double in the ninth. Back in the starting nine tonight, however, is one player who has torn the cover of the ball in this series: Yorman Rodriguez, who will once again hit third for Fort Wayne. Rodriguez is 5 for 9 in the first two games of the set and three of his outs have been hard-hit. He owns an eight-game hitting streak and a 10-game on-base streak. Back in the lineup for Fort Wayne, as well, after getting the last few days off, is Ethan Skender, who will bat eighth and play third. Skender has gotten on base in 18 of his last 19 games and is hitting .360 since July 29. Meanwhile, Grant Little, boasting a .402 OBP since July 27, will get a rare start in center, with Luis Almanzar, fresh off making two outstanding diving catches in left in Wednesday's game, once again in the corner spot.

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