In addition to battling the Lansing Lugnuts Friday at Parkview Field, the TinCaps also had to handle the elements, as instead of rain, it was snow that made playing the game a bit difficult at times in a 7-3 series-opening win.
What had plagued Fort Wayne in their rain-shortened Tuesday-Wednesday series against South Bend was hitting with runners in scoring position. On Tuesday they went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and Wednesday brought a 2-for-10 mark–a cumulative 3-for-19 (.158). Friday’s game saw the TinCaps go 5-for-23 (.217), which is still under their season average of .223 with runners in scoring position.
While they still weren’t great in that category Friday, they picked up the hits when they needed them as part of a four-run sixth inning.
“It was a good job,” manager Jose Valentin said. “Got 15 more hits today, and most of them were in a clutch situation, which is good always. Today I think was something (where) the offense was on today and the bullpen did a great job.”
One of the biggest plate appearances in that sixth inning didn’t involve a base hit, but rather a walk. Before a two-out, two-run single by Gabriel Quintana, Dane Phillips drew a walk to load the bases. He told me after the game that it was difficult to not swing the bat, knowing how the team had fared with situations where runners were on base, and having dealt with one-run losses in each of the last two games. His patience reaped a great reward for Quintana, who finished the night 3-for-5.
Valentin noted the strong effort by the bullpen, which followed 4 2/3 innings from Joe Ross, who had his first non-immaculate start of the year. I hesitate to call it anything else, because considering the wind chill factor and the snow, it was not the best pitching weather. Ross finished having allowed three hits, two earned runs, four walks and picked up three strikeouts.
“Joe Ross, I don’t think he had his best stuff today,” Valentin said. “I don’t know if it was cold weather for him today, but the first two outings, he was attacking the hitters and getting ahead in the count. Today it was the other way.
“But even with him not having his best stuff, the way we were hitting today … Overall I think the biggest thing was Quintana with two outs. We get two runs and then after that we were able to split the game wide open.”
On a personal note, the only other game I can recall being involved in that involved that much snow was a May 9th, 2010 game when I worked for the Syracuse (N.Y.) Chiefs. It was at Alliance Bank Stadium (now NBT Bank Stadium) against the Gwinnett Braves…and it was postponed due to snow. For some reason, all I remember after being at the ballpark that day was going to the mall to buy a pair of new shoes. If postponements make me a spendthrift, keep me away from inclement weather.
Tonight’s game features two highly-rated pitchers: Max Fried for Fort Wayne and Roberto Osuna for Lansing. Fried is the #2 prospect in the Padres farm system according to Baseball America, while Osuna checks in at #6 in the Blue Jays farm system. IF you follow the TinCaps, you know that Fried was drafted seventh overall in the 2012 draft. Osuna, who hails from Los Mochis, Mexico, began his professional career at age 16 in the Mexican League. In 2011, his Mexical League team sold his rights to Toronto for $1.5 million.
We’ll talk to you tonight on XFINITY 81 and on TheFanFortWayne.com.
To hear Manager Jose Valentin’s full post-game comments, listen to the podcast below: