From Nailbiter to Laugher, Tigers in Town, Family in the Fort

Editor’s Note: Mike Couzens is at Disney World. For work. John Nolan, meanwhile, is at the Most Magical Place in the Midwest League: Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan.

The TinCaps got back in the win column Wednesday night in one of the closer 9-2 games you’re ever going to see. The game was 3-2 Fort Wayne going into the ninth and that’s when the TinCaps put their stamp on the game with a six-run inning.

Starting pitcher Zach Eflin continued his claim to be called the TinCaps to arm these days as he threw seven innings for the second time this year. It was only the sixth time this year a Fort Wayne starter did that. And until Zach’s performance, Justin Hancock (now with Advanced-A Lake Elsinore) had been the only other pitcher to do it twice.

While Zach left the game with a 3-2 lead, it didn’t feel safe until the offensive eruption in the ninth. The TinCaps didn’t have an extra-base hit during the inning but sent 10 men to the plate, hit four singles, drew two walks, and capitalized on two West Michigan errors. For most of the second half, it’s been the TinCaps who have had sloppy play exacerbate their problems, but Wednesday they finally got to be on the punishing side again.

Luis Domoromo was the offensive MVP with his first four-hit game of the year as a TinCap. Remember, Domoromo played the first half with Lake Elsinore, but struggled mightily. He was hitting .198 there when he was sent down for the the start of the second half. Things were even worse for “Domo” at the start in the Midwest League. He began 0-for-16. But now he’s finally hot, hitting .319 this month.


Omare Infante takes batting practice Wednesday.

Omare Infante takes batting practice Wednesday.

As we’ve discussed before here, maybe the only downside to the TinCaps outstanding, and longstanding, partnership with the Padres is the distance between Fort Wayne and San Diego. As a result, only two Padres have ever rehabbed injuries with the TinCaps — one being Everth Martinez, who did so at the beginning of the month when the TinCaps were on the road in South Bend.

A number of other Midwest League teams, though, are fortunate enough to be affiliates of MLB teams based nearby. Like the Whitecaps are with the Tigers just a bit more than 2 hours away.

So the TinCaps are the lucky ones who get to see a pair of Tigers up-close here in this series. Infielder Omar Infante and reliever Darin Downs are both here on Major League Rehab assignments.

Infante, 31, played here at Fifth Third Ballpark last night for the first time since 2000 when he was 18. That year Infante played 12 games with the Whitecaps on the way to his All-Star career in the bigs. He DH-ed last night, going 1-for-3 with a HBP, and is starting at second base and batting second tonight. Infante has been on the Tigers’ DL since July 9 with a sprained left ankle.

Downs, 28, has been on the DL since July 7 with tendonitis in the rotator cuff of his left shoulder. He’s expected to make his Midwest League debut tonight as the first arm out of West Michigan’s bullpen.

Fort Wayne players (who again had Cabrera as a teammate a few weeks back and have seen other MLB players rehab against them before) seem to have the appropriate level of “this is cool” while also approaching the game the same way.


The Nolan Family minus sister Katie.

The Nolan Family minus sister Katie.

Was great to have my parents, Kathy and John, and sister, Kirsten, visiting in Fort Wayne from Saturday night through Wednesday morning. They set a family record for longest single-day drive, going 646 miles and 10 hours (not counting rest stops) from Edison, N.J., to Fort Wayne.

After listening to TinCaps games all year, I was glad to be able to show them around Parkview Field and Fort Wayne. Not to mention, it was a great excuse to go eat at some of the best spots in town. Thanks for coming, family!


It’s Christmas in July tonight at Fifth Third Ballpark. We’l have more on that in tomorrow’s blog, but now, Burl Ives, take it away!

Thanks as always for reading. Feel free to be in touch on Twitter @John_G_Nolan or by email: Hope you can catch tonight’s game on The Fan 1380 or Coverage starts at 6:40 EST.

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