SOUTH BEND – The TinCaps traveled down U.S. 30 for a meeting with in-state rival South Bend on Saturday. The team's offense stayed back in the Summit City.
Fort Wayne managed just five hits and struck out 12 times, getting shut out for the second time in five games and falling 3-0 to the Cubs at Four Winds Field in front of an announced crowd of 6,570.
“(The Cubs' pitchers) were dotting corners,” catcher Blake Hunt said. “They made some pitches on me too. I was able to make some adjustments, but whenever guys have a three-pitch mix with a breaking ball and a changeup and a fastball, and they have command of all three, it's pretty tough.
“Just gotta tip your cap. Hopefully we can bounce back tomorrow.”
Hunt was the only hitter to solve the Cubs' pitching, going 3 for 4 with a double and a stolen base.
The game was the first in a stretch of six straight for the TinCaps (53-63, 20-28) against teams in front of them in the Eastern Division playoff race. They finished the night six games behind the Cubs for the final playoff spot with 22 games left.
The Cubs (63-53, 26-22) took the lead for good in the second inning against Fort Wayne starter Adrian Martinez. A sacrifice fly from Rafelin Lorenzo brought in the game's first run and No. 9 hitter Luis Vazquez made it a crooked number in the inning when he hooked an RBI double into the left-field corner.
Martinez, who has been a reliever most of the season, was otherwise solid, pitching a season-high 52/3 innings and giving up just those two runs while striking out four and walking one. He took a tough-luck loss in his third start of the season.
“His velo(city) was great tonight,” Hunt said. “He was able to hit corners, too. He was able to feed off his fastball. That gave us a chance with his changeup to brush hitters back, keep their feet moving in the box, because that's what makes your off-speed so effective.”
Cubs starter Riley Thompson was even better, for a while. The 6-foot-3 right-hander whiffed six hitters in the first three innings to keep Fort Wayne off-balance. He gave up just one hit, a double to Hunt.
Prior to the fourth inning, the TinCaps asked the umpire to check Thompson's glove for an illegal substance.
The umpires did so and apparently found some evidence of a substance because Thompson was ejected and his glove taken for examination.
“You (could) see (Thompson) going to his glove, like right where his upper thumb is,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “He kept going to it and then as I got closer to it, as I was moving down the (third-base) line, I could hear the ball snapping off his fingers. He kept doing it. It was blatant. (He) just kept going to it. ... So I just asked the umpires, 'Hey, after the (third) inning, when he comes back out can you just check his glove?'”
Reliever Brendan King hurriedly warmed up and picked up right where Thompson left off. He tossed a season-high four innings and gave up just three hits to earn the victory.
Note: The Padres placed TinCaps top prospect CJ Abrams on the 7-day injured list before the game Saturday. Abrams, the No. 6 overall pick this year, injured his shoulder sliding into third in just his second game with Fort Wayne. He will reportedly be out about two weeks.
TinCaps at South Bend
Where: Four Winds Field, South Bend
When: 2:05 p.m.
Pitchers: Ryan Weathers (TinCaps) vs. Peyton Remy (Cubs)
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM