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The first two games between the Bees and the TinCaps have been extremely enjoyable to watch. The games have featured strong pitching, timely offense and well-played defense. In Thursday night’s game, it was the offense that broke out early with both teams scoring two runs in their respective halves of the first inning. For Fort Wayne, it was Travis Whitmore hitting a two-run shot over the wall in right, which as he said after the game, carried up into the “jetstream”. The wind was blowing out to right, but he got enough on it that it would’ve been gone either way.
Fort Wayne’s Frank Garces pitched five innings and struck out seven, vaulting himself into the lead for strikeouts within the Padres player development system. The bullpen was as good as it’s been all year as Johnny Barbato, newcomer Daniel Cropper and Matt Stites worked four innings without giving up a hit or a walk. Cropper pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning for his first win.
In today’s TinCaps Report Podcast, hear the highlights from last night’s game, including post-game reaction from Whitmore, Donavan Tate and Manager Jose Valentin:
Lovely game at Dow Diamond last night as the TinCaps and Loons opened their four-game set. Adys Portillo went six and two thirds, tying his career high for innings pitched. He was just one batter shy of making it through seven full, before issuing a walk with two out. Quite the outing for the 20 year old from Venezuela. Padres Farm Director Randy Smith was following the game closely:
Tip of the TinCap to Willie Blair for all his work with Portillo. Adys deals again tonighht After 2 GS has 0.84 ERA.—
Randy Smith (@ResPadres) April 13, 2012
That’s a great turn of phrase right there, hope it’s not copyrighted!
Lots of credit is due to the staff for helping Portillo get off to a great start this season. Last year in 23 appearances, only five times did Portillo pitch more than four innings. Jose Valentin told me before the game that during spring training, the staff had Portillo focus on throwing the ball over the plate, even in two-strike counts. The way to corral a wild arm, it seems, was to overcorrect back to the middle and have him throw more strikes than necessary. It has certainly paid off, as Portillo began the year without allowing a hit in his first six innings of work, and has allowed just two in 10 2/3 innings.
Oh, right…there was the big offensive outburst last night, too! In the first inning, Jace Peterson and Travis Whitmore both went deep off of Loons starter Brandon Martinez. You can hear those highlights in today’s TinCaps Report Podcast. Also in today’s edition, part of my conversation with TinCaps hitting coach Jacque Jones. He gives his thoughts about the team’s start at the plate this year, talks about new third baseman Duanel Jones, and explains why he missed work earlier this week (for a very good reason):