The TinCaps staked claim to a seven-run lead through six before giving two back.
Catcher Adam Zornes spurred a four-run frame with a 1-0 double to leadoff the fourth. After a ground out, Blake Tekotte drove a 0-1 pitch to right-center. The center fielder dove for it and could not come up with the ball, glancing off his glove. Zornes cruised into third and was unable to score. Drew Cumberland then notched an infield single to load the bases.
Dan Robertson delivered a bloop, broken bat single to left field to plate a pair. Justin Baum notched the fourth straight hit – a single – to score Cumberland. He also moved to second on the throw. Allan Dykstra capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly.
“There are those days where you are seeing it well and can just stroke,” Robertson said. “I was trying to get the barrel out and you have to find ways to beat him.”
Tekotte led off the fifth inning with his ninth homer of the year during an eight-pitch at-bat. He fell to 1-2 and fouled off several pitches before depositing one into the right field seats. They added a second run on a bases loaded balk, scoring Cumberland a second time.
“I guess I am being a lot more selective with the pitches I am swinging at,” Tekotte said. “I am looking for a good pitch to hit and when I swing I am just not missing it. I am taking advantage of pitcher’s mistakes.”
Robertson plated his third run an inning later, singling to center to score Kevin Hansen and give the TinCaps a 7-0 lead.
On the mound, Stiven Osuna did his job with efficiency. He tossed 82 pitches across five scoreless frames, yielding three hits and three walks while fanning six. Five of the six strikeouts came on offspeed pitches – both his curveball and changeup were crisp.
“A good bounce back effort,” said pitching coach Tom Bradley. “He really hasn’t thrown that many pitches in about a month. He has been in a tandem and pitching two, three innings at a time. Five innings, no runs. I thought he spotted his fastball better tonight.”
“I have always been a starter and have been patiently waiting to get back into it,” Osuna said. “I hope to take advantage of it and keep this opportunity.”
“It is in there,” manager Doug Dascenzo said. “It is a situation where you try harder and get less. It happens to all young guys. He is trying to find a comfort zone.”
Eduardo Perez relieved Osuna and battled out of trouble in his first inning. He wasn’t so lucky in the seventh. Two singles opened the inning and a two-out double plated both runs to make it 7-2.
Fort Wayne got both runs back in the bottom half. Dykstra started things off with a walk. Yefri Carvajal followed with a sharp single to left and Cole Figueroa walked after a wild pitch. Zornes delivered a single to left to score one and the ninth run came across on a sacrifice fly from Tekotte.
The TinCaps scored in their fourth straight inning in the bottom of the eighth. Justin Baum led off with his third hit of the game and moved to third on a Dykstra single into right-center. He came home on a Carvajal groundout. A Cole Figueroa double made the score 11-2.
“I am trying to take the same process I took in the first half and trying to apply it a little better,” Baum said. “I need to allow myself to do it instead of getting in the way.”
Baum would not use the excuse of not playing consistently earlier in the year as a reason for his slow start and move down to Fort Wayne.
“I am never going to use not knowing if I will be in the lineup as an excuse,” Baum said. “I am happy to get into a rhythm but won’t use that as a crutch.”
He has played a pivotal role in each of the last two wins, contributing defensively and offensively.
Jeudy Valdez is roughly three weeks out after suffering a fracture in his right wrist.
“We will let that heal up,” Dascenzo said. “Three or four days for Decker, give or take.”
Jaff Decker is a few days away from competing. He took batting practice on Friday afternoon but took easy swings and often stretched out his back to keep it flexible.
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