FORT WAYNE, Ind — On Stars Wars night at Parkview Field the TinCaps and Loons played a much faster paced game than the night before, but in the end Fort Wayne dropped their second in a row, after sweeping Lansing in the previous series, 2-1.
The TinCaps, despite their ten hits, only scored on a wild pitch and wasted a very good pitching performance by RHP Hansel Rodriguez. Rodriguez had his best outing since early April going seven strong innings with seven strikeouts against one walk and only giving up on earned run.
“All year we have been wanting him to utilize his fastball more because he can get a little changeup and curveball happy, but tonight he was getting ahead with his fastball,” said TinCaps’ manager Anthony Contreras on Rodriguez’s performance.
“When he starts attacking the zone, letting his defense work behind him, more times than not he is going to get the out.
Rodriguez threw a season-high 89 pitches, 63 for strikes and sat between 88 and 92 mph for most of the night.
“When my fastball is good, the other pitches look much better,” Rodriguez said through interpreter Jhonny Carvajal, the TinCaps’ fielding coach.
“I’ve been working more with my fastball in the bullpen and I think that is why I was able to have success today.”
Offensively, the first four batters in Fort Wayne’s lineup - SS Fernando Tatis, CF Jack Suwinski, RF Jorge Ona and 3B Hudson Potts - all had two hits, but Suwinski’s double was the only one for extra-bases. The big thing that killed a number of TinCaps’ rallies was 13 strikeouts, which has plagued the team for most of the year despite also being a league leader in walks.
“We want our guys to take pitches out of the zone that they can’t handle, but stay on the fastball in the zone. It’s still a learning process in how to jump on the fastball and stay within themselves,” said Contreras.
“In the last series in Lansing they looked like the best hitting team in the league, so it’s coming, but it’s also a learning process.
Tomorrow night at 7:05 PM RHP Ronald Bolanos, one of the many Cuban pitchers the team signed in the offseason, makes his stateside debut.
TinCap Notes: Infielder Reinaldo Ilarraza has been given a few days off after he jammed his wrist in the last series. He is expected to be back on the field either tomorrow or Sunday…Tatis, despite taking ball flush against his left cheek in last night’s game, experienced no discernible side effects in tonight’s game.
Statistics: SS Fernando Tatis 2-5; CF Jack Suwinski 2-5, 2B; RF Jorge Ona 2-3, BB; 3B Hudson Potts 2-4; RHP Hansel Rodriguez 7.0 IP 4 H 2 R ER BB 7 K; RHP Diomar Lopez 2.0 IP H 4 K.