FORT WAYNE – The cold returned, and with it, the TinCaps’ offensive struggles continued.
Or, perhaps, their woes with Great Lakes simply became even more of a trend.
After seizing a 3-0 lead in the second inning, the TinCaps came apart in the middle frames and never mounted much of a rally in a 7-3 defeat at chilly Parkview Field on Monday night in the opener of a four-game set.
The TinCaps (9-14) are finding the Loons to be an especially pesky opponent.
Great Lakes (14-10) took three out of four last week and also won its first series at Parkview Field, 3-1, in the first week of April.
When you look at the overall matchup, some of the things they do well are things we don’t do as well, TinCaps manager Michael Collins said. They’ve played good, quality baseball against us.
The Loons are second in the Midwest League in batting with a .269 average, while TinCaps pitching has allowed 111 earned runs, 10 more than anyone else.
Great Lakes stole four bases Monday to extend its league-leading total to 61.
They run the bases very well, Collins said. They’ve very smart. They seem like a pretty mature team. They take advantage of a lot of little mistakes. Over the course of a game, a series and now into the third series, that’s probably some of the results you’re seeing.
Justin Livengood (0-1) gave up a three-run triple to No. 9 batter Dillon Moyer in Great Lakes’ decisive, four-run sixth inning.
It was not a night for baseball, certainly not the type of weather the TinCaps hoped to encounter on their return from a 2-5 road trip.
The game-time temperature was 48 degrees, with wind gusts up to 20 mph.
Conditions resulted in a nearly empty stadium. The attendance was listed as 2,118, but many fewer actually showed up.
Those who did had reason to cheer for a strong start.
First baseman Jake Bauers, the youngest player on the team, produced a two-run triple in the second inning for his first hit as a TinCap.
Bauers was 0 for 5 in two starts at West Michigan.
Took a couple oh-fers, Collins said. Tonight it was nice to see him have success and get those results.
Another recent newcomer also impressed.
Bryan Verbitsky, in his TinCaps debut, went five innings, giving up two runs on five hits and striking out six.
It felt pretty good, he said. I was trying to execute and let my defense work.
Verbitsky held a 3-2 lead in his final inning after Great Lakes placed a man on third with nobody out.
He was great, Collins said. Obviously, very talented – we knew that. He was right around the plate with just about everything. That was a pleasing sign.
Collins could use a few more good omens this week against the troublesome Loons.
We just have to string it together, he said. We’ve done some things well, but we have to do it for nine innings.