Back and forth they went in the pouring rain at Parkview Field for hours. The only question more prominent than – “Will they ever postpone this game because of the weather?” – was - "How many times can the TinCaps come back?"
In the end, not enough times.
The TinCaps fell 7-4 Tuesday night to the Lansing Lugnuts, losing for a third straight game and for the fifth time in the last seven, amid rain that fell for the final six innings.
Fort Wayne’s Jake Bauers got a single in the ninth to go 1 for 4 and extend his hitting streak to 16 games, two shy of the TinCaps record set by Blake Tekotte in the inaugural season of 2009 and equaled by Rymer Liriano in 2011.
The franchise record, which includes the Wizards years of 1993 to 2008, is Sean Burroughs’ 23-game streak from 1999.
After trailing by two early, the TinCaps (29-35) tied it in the sixth. They pulled equal again with the Lugnuts (30-34) at 4-all in the seventh, in front of 4.903 fans.
But they didn’t have a third rally in them.
After losing four in a row, the Lugnuts have won back-to-back games, and the teams meet again Wednesday in the middle segment of a three-game set at Parkview Field.
It didn’t take long for the TinCaps to do some damage offensively. Their first batter, Mallex Smith, got on base with a double down the right-field line, advanced to third on a Dustin Peterson flyball to center field and scored on a Fernando Perez sacrifice fly.
But the Lugnuts answered in the third, when a Matt Dean single brought in two runs and a L.B. Dantzler sacrifice fly made it 3-1.
Fort Wayne starting pitcher Erik Cabrera settled down and didn’t give up a run after that. He went six innings, allowing four hits, while striking out two and walking three.
The TinCaps’ offense threatened to come back in the fifth, only to be foiled by great defensive playmaking. With Adolfo Reina singling to get to first base with no outs, a Ryan Miller flyball to center field was caught by D.J. Davis, who then made a brilliant diving catch on a Henry Charles liner. Lugnuts second baseman Dickie Joe Thon ended the inning by diving to his left to stop a River Stevens blast as it began to pour rain.
That rain did the TinCaps a favor in the bottom of the sixth, as it allowed Smith to turn a bunt single into a double when pitcher Jeremy Gabryszwski’s throw sailed past the first baseman. That was followed by a Peterson RBI triple into right center. And with Bauers at the plate, a wild pitch into the dirt by Gabryszwski brought Peterson home to tie it at 3.
All that work was quickly undone by TinCaps reliever Wilson Santos, who allowed the bases to be loaded by a Santiago Nessy triple and a pair of walks. With one out, he was pulled in favor of Tayron Guerrero, who walked Matt Dean in five pitches for a 4-3 Lansing lead.
The TinCaps answered again in the seventh, though, thanks to a Stevens RBI groundball single up the middle off Scott Silverstein, though the run was credited to Gabryszwski, who allowed four runs and six hits, while striking out six over 6.1 innings.
Yet again, the Lugnuts went up 5-4 in the eighth, when Chaz Frank hit a pop single to shallow centerfield to bring in Thon, and the floodgates (pun intended) opened after that.
Before the game, Bauers was named the San Diego Padres’ Minor League Hitter of the Month, a day after he was selected Midwest League Player of the Week.
For more on this game, read Wednesday's Journal Gazette or return to www.journalgazette.net after 3 a.m.