Dylan Sinn | The Journal Gazette TinCaps starting pitcher Ryan Weathers talks with catcher Blake Hunt at the mound Sunday in South Bend, where Fort Wayne lost its third straight.
Dylan Sinn | The Journal Gazette The TinCaps’ Jawuan Harris attempts to lay down a bunt Sunday at South Bend, where Fort Wayne lost its third straight game.
Monday, August 12, 2019 1:00 am
South Bend 8 TinCaps 3
TinCaps blow 2-run lead, lose 3rd straight
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
at South Bend
Where: Four Winds Field, South Bend
When: 7:05 p.m.
Pitchers: Edwuin Bencomo (TinCaps) vs. Cam Sanders (Cubs)
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM
SOUTH BEND – The TinCaps' bullpen had been a strength in the second half of the season. On Sunday, it was Fort Wayne's undoing.
After Ryan Weathers pitched five solid innings and left with a 3-1 lead, the Fort Wayne relievers gave up seven runs over the next three innings and the TinCaps fell 8-3 against the South Bend Cubs at Four Winds Field in front of an announced crowd of 5,586.
“Our bullpen has been really strong, especially (Sunday), when we have (Jose) Quezada and (Henry) Henry and (Cody) Tyler available,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “We expect those games (when they come in with a lead) to go our way, but unfortunately for us it didn't go our way today.”
The defeat, the TinCaps' third in a row, guarantees they will drop the important series against the in-state rival Cubs, leaving Fort Wayne seven games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Division with just 21 games remaining.
The big blow in the game came from the Cubs' Nelson Velazquez in the seventh inning. South Bend had loaded the bases against Quezada with the game tied at 3, moving Fort Wayne to bring in Henry, the team's All-Star right-hander. Henry got ahead 1-2, but he threw his next pitch too close to the plate and Velazquez clubbed it to left for a bases-clearing double that pushed the Cubs in front 6-3.
“(It) was a two-strike hanging slider,” Contreras said of the go-ahead double. “Pitchers have to do a better job of executing. These guys are professional baseball players regardless of if it's Low-A. (The relievers) have shown they can kill pitches and get guys to chase and get it down in the zone, but you leave a soft spinning slider or curveball up in the zone, guys are going to do damage on it.”
Fort Wayne struck out just one hitter in the game, struggling to put batters away with two strikes all afternoon.
The bullpen had not surrendered an earned run in the previous four games, going 142/3 consecutive innings without giving one up before the Cubs pushed across two runs on a pair of two-out, seeing-eye RBI singles in the sixth against Quezada to knot the score at 3.
The loss drops the TinCaps to 7-17 on the road in the second half. They are 13-12 at home since the All-Star Break, and designated hitter Michael Curry said there isn't an easy explanation for the disparity.
“It's just how it goes sometimes,” said Curry, who went 2 for 3 with a walk. “Obviously there's nothing like playing at home. Parkview Field is an awesome atmosphere. Road games can be challenging sometimes, but then again that's baseball, you play every day. You kind of forget, 'Oh, we're on the road.'”
The TinCaps took the lead in the fifth with some small-ball offense. With the game tied at 1 and runners on first and third, Fort Wayne pulled off a double steal, sending Tyler Benson home with the go-ahead run. Later, Tucupita Marcano stole third and scored when the throw was wild into left field to put Fort Wayne in front 3-1.
Weathers gave up just one run on five hits in five innings. He struck out one.
For the third consecutive start, he did not issue a walk, but he didn't have his best stuff.
He grinded his way through a solid outing, before turning the game over to the usually solid bullpen.