Starters Going Strong, Back-to-Back Walk-Offs, and More in the Captains’ Log
Bob Toth | On 04, Jul 2016
The Captains began life without Francisco Mejia and Tyler Krieger last week but after dropping three straight games during the week, they used a pair of walk-off wins and a five-hit shutout on Sunday to sweep the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Classic Park.
The three-game sweep for the Captains was their first sweep and series win as a whole since taking three from Lansing from June 7 to 9. The wins pulled the Captains over the .500 mark with a 6-5 record in the second half. They trail the South Bend Cubs, who took three of four from the Captains earlier last week, by three games in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division.
In other notes from the Captains log:
Down 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth, the Captains orchestrated their second consecutive walk-off win over the Fort Wayne TinCaps at Classic Park.
Against reliever Lou Distasio in the ninth, Ordomar Valdez led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a double from Nathan Lukes after a strikeout by Willi Castro. Manager Tony Mansolino called upon Connor Marabell to pinch-hit for David Armendariz and the move paid off. On a 1-1 pitch, Marabell lined a gapper to right-center, scoring both runners for the team’s sixth walk-off victory of the season.
Three of those six walk-offs have come against Fort Wayne.
PANNONE SCORELESS IN SIX FRAMES
Thomas Pannone blanked the TinCaps over six scoreless innings in Saturday’s game, giving up just three hits to Fort Wayne on the day. He struck out six batters and walked none.
FRIDAY WALK-OFF ENDS LOSING SKID
In similar fashion the night before, the Captains were again trailing 2-1 in the ninth inning against the TinCaps and won the game in their final at bat.
With closer Gerardo Reyes on the mound for Fort Wayne, Valdez singled to lead off before Angel Miguel dropped down a sacrifice. Reyes fielded the bunt and tried to throw out Valdez at second but the throw sailed into center field, allowing the runner to move to third. Lukes tied the game with a line drive single to left to make it 2-2.
Marabell dropped down his own sacrifice to move both runners up with the first out. An intentional walk to Armendariz loaded the bases. Jose Medina chopped the first pitch he saw to first and Fort Wayne first baseman Brad Zunica threw to the plate to force out Miguel. Instead, he bounced the ball and the TinCaps catcher was unable to scoop the throw, allowing Miguel to score the winning run.
MORE QUALITY OUTINGS FROM THE CAPTAINS STAFF
Shao-Ching Chiang has worked seven innings in each of his last two starts. On June 28 against the Cubs, he allowed two runs on three hits with a walk while striking five. He was even better on Sunday, earning his fifth win of the year while throwing seven scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory over Fort Wayne. He walked three batters and struck out two while giving up the only five hits allowed by Captains pitching in the contest.
Right-hander Brock Hartson (pictured) pitched a strong game for the Captains on Friday, allowing just three hits over six scoreless innings. He struck out six TinCaps batters and walked one in his outing. The 21st round pick of the 2015 draft has made three straight starts in the Captains rotation and has allowed just four runs in 17 innings of work, striking out 14 and walking three.
Matt Esparza continued his impressive season with six innings of one-run ball in Thursday’s 1-0 loss in the series finale against South Bend, who took the set three games to one during the week. In his quality outing, the right-hander threw five scoreless innings before giving up a single run in the sixth. He allowed three hits and a walk while striking out seven. Esparza has now allowed three runs or less in 15 straight outings; his only outing with more was his first of the season, when he allowed nine runs on eleven hits in three and one-third innings at Fort Wayne on April 10.
Yonathan Mendoza hit his first home run of the season on Friday to give the Captains the 1-0 lead in the third.
LUKES EXTENDS HIT STREAK TO FIVE STRAIGHT
Lukes has hit in five straight games, going 5-for-19 with five singles and a run batted in. His batting average has dropped four points over those five games. The hit streak also extended his on-base streak to ten straight games.
Lukes is hitting .307 for the season with a .388 on-base percentage.
Catcher Jack Goihl joined the Captains from the roster of the Mahoning Valley Scrappers on the 25th, but was placed on the seven-day disabled list on July 1.
Photo: Tim Phillis/TCP Photography