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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, June 20, 2019 1:00 am

Manager's motivation put TinCaps on the right track

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

When the story of this TinCaps season is written, there is a possibility that the team's four-game sweep at the hands of the Dayton Dragons from June 7-10 will be remembered as a turning point.

Fort Wayne had been playing good baseball heading into that series but slipped back into some bad habits against the Dragons and dropped all four games, including two by a run. That led to a spirited discussion between manager Anthony Contreras and his players before the team moved on to play second-place Bowling Green. 

“A few nights ago (after the Dayton series), we had a really good heart-to-heart in the clubhouse (with Contreras),” outfielder Michael Curry said. “Just talking about stuff and we're kind of playing with a chip on our shoulder.

“Especially after that Dayton series, things didn't go our way and that's kind of when turned for us.”

The talk seemed to light a fire under the TinCaps. They went on to sweep Bowling Green, their first road sweep of the season, denying the Hot Rods a first-half playoff spot. Then, they came home and won a three-game series against another contender, Lake County. If Contreras was trying to push his team to finish strong before the All-Star break, it worked.

It's a tribute to their preparation, to their mindset,” Contreras said of the recent success. “Sometimes they've gotta be kicked in the you-know-what to get them kick-started, but with a young team you've gotta do that sometimes. These guys have been playing good baseball.”

The schedule gets no easier for the TinCaps after the break. They open the second-half schedule with a trip to first-half Eastern Division champion Great Lakes beginning tonight. It's an early chance to show that that fire they had late in the first half will be there permanently.