FORT WAYNE – On a night fireworks boomed in the sky, the crack of the bat was a persistently meek sound for the TinCaps.
Aside from one loud thud courtesy of Dustin Peterson, the home team went quietly in a 3-1 loss to West Michigan on Friday in front of a record crowd of 9,182 at Parkview Field. That narrowly broke the stadium record of 9,015 set last week.
The TinCaps dropped their seventh straight game and fell to 14 games under .500 for the first time since they were the Wizards.
It was the same old, all-too-familiar tune: Decent pitching. Poor hitting. Yet another chapter in a maddening slide.
As a mature hitter, you already know you’re going to go through ups and downs, said leadoff man Ronnie Richardson, who was 0 for 4.
The downs are here.
Scoring only 22 runs has produced a 1-8 stretch over the last nine games.
When it’s bad, you have to do whatever you can to get out of it as fast as you can, Richardson said. We’ve got too good of an offense to let that bother us.
When the TinCaps (35-49, 5-10 second half) think of what might go wrong, scoring runs isn’t usually a worry.
They still lead the Midwest League in that category.
But the names in the batting order are different these days.
Key cogs Dane Phillips and Mallex Smith were promoted, and Fernando Perez, a .298 batter with 52 runs driven in, missed his 10th straight game Friday with a groin injury.
That’s definitely a big part of our offense, TinCaps manager Michael Collins said. Mallex was on base causing trouble. When you take out Perez, you’re talking about a pretty big piece in the middle of the order.
Returning from a listless seven-game road trip, the TinCaps badly needed an effective start from Yimmi Brasoban, called up from short-season Eugene to replace the demoted Walker Weickel.
Brasoban delivered, holding the Whitecaps to three runs over five innings.
Felt good, Brasoban said. The slider was very nice.
But the offense managed no runs in six innings against All-Star Buck Farmer (8-5).
Peterson’s eighth-inning double, a laser to deep center, scored the TinCaps’ lone run.
I hit it pretty good, said Peterson, who was 2 for 4. I’ve had quite a few hit pretty good this year. That one happened to get down. I was pretty pumped about that.
It was the only piece of offense worth getting pumped over, as the TinCaps went 0 for 3 with runners in scoring position, stranding six.
Catcher Ryan Miller, 0 for 4 with four strikeouts, said multiple hitters are pressing.
I’m one of them, he said. I’m trying to do too much and overthinking. It’s hard to forget about the past and have a short-term memory.
West Michigan (50-45, 9-6) went ahead in the first on an RBI single by ex-TinCap Wynton Bernard.
Jeff Holm added an RBI groundout in the second, and Javier Betancourt’s RBI triple in the fifth made it 3-0.
Detroit Tigers left-handed reliever Ian Krol worked a perfect seventh as part of his minor league rehabilitation assignment.
What the record crowd saw was a floundering team, and Collins isn’t sure what’s wrong.
Hard to pinpoint one specific thing, he said. Plenty of guys are more than capable. We just haven’t been able to score.