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  • Padres, TinCaps re-up for 2 years
    Randy Smith, vice president of player development for the San Diego Padres, sat in the office of TinCaps manager Michael Collins before Fort Wayne’s playoff opener and ruminated on the clubs’ 16-year partnership.
  • Breaking down the TinCaps
    The TinCaps went 63-76 in 2014 but won a round in the postseason before bowing out Sunday in the Eastern Divison championship series.
  • Captains eliminate TinCaps
    The long faces said it all.The TinCaps’ chase for a second Midwest League championship came to a halt Sunday night as Lake County sent them home for the winter with a 5-4 loss in Game 2 to wrap up the Eastern Division Championship
vs. West Michigan
When: 1:05 p.m. today
TV: Xfinity Channel 81
Radio: 1380 AM
Tickets: $12.50, $10, $9, $8, $5 (lawn)
Information: or 482-6400
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
TinCaps starter Cody Hebner allowed one run on Austin Schott’s home run in three innings and left with a 3-1 lead.

TinCaps get big blast, then fizzle

Reina’s homer hits Harrison; losing streak reaches 8

– A ball hit that far, off the Harrison apartment complex beyond the left field concourse?

TinCaps manager Michael Collins had never seen one, not even in batting practice.

Adolfo Reina’s two-run drive cleared the 12-foot wall, four rows of seats and a walkway before caroming off the side of the building.

The first-inning home run was a false sign of hope, though, as the TinCaps scored just once more Saturday in an 8-4 loss to West Michigan, their eighth in a row.

“That was a good one,” Collins said of Reina’s third homer this year against his former team. “Unfortunately, they hit four of them.”

Indeed, West Michigan, which entered with only 34 homers, third-fewest in the Midwest League, put on a more extensive power display.

Austin Schotts homered leading off the game, and Willy Adames, Jose Zambrano and Wynton Bernard also went yard on a night the Whitecaps looked awfully comfortable in the batter’s box.

The TinCaps (35-50, 5-11 second half) only wish they felt that way.

Jake Bauers ended a 4-for-34 slump with an RBI double, two batters ahead of Reina’s bomb, but Fort Wayne only managed three hits over the final eight innings.

The Whitecaps (51-35, 10-6) helped out with a run-scoring error in the fifth, but all that did was make it 7-4.

Maybe this one was more about Austin Kubitza, one of the league’s best pitchers.

A tough assignment even for a lineup going well, Kubitza (7-1) went five innings and ranks third among qualified pitchers with a 2.55 ERA.

But that doesn’t explain how Julio Felix, who relieved Kubitza, finished it off by retiring all 12 batters he faced, five by strikeout.

“We haven’t put it together,” Bauers said. “There’s always the potential for this to happen. It’s tough.”

In his first outing with the TinCaps since Game 3 of the Midwest League championship series on Sept. 15, 2012, Cody Hebner allowed only Schotts’ blast in a three-inning start.

“My slider was good,” Hebner said. “My curveball was good when I got ahead.”

Erik Cabrera (3-7) quickly lost a 3-1 lead in the fourth. Adames hit a three-run shot and Zambrano, the No. 9 batter, pulled one to right.

Justin Livengood gave up two more runs in the fifth and then Bernard’s solo drive leading off the seventh.

Bernard, a TinCap for five games last year, has become a big pest to his former team.

The outfielder is 15 for 40 (.375) with five walks, five RBI and seven stolen bases in 11 games against Fort Wayne.

Bernard, still close with Ronnie Richardson and others, said he enjoys facing the TinCaps, estimating he knows 60 percent or 70 percent of the team.

“I want to do good against them,” Bernard said. “It’s a good feeling, obviously a lot of adrenaline.”

In a quiet home clubhouse, there was no music, just a few celebratory hugs for utility infielder River Stevens, who said he is being promoted to High-A Lake Elsinore.

Instead, the TinCaps were in a reflective mood, thinking about how to end this funk.

“Everybody’s gone out there giving us a chance to win,” said Kyle Lloyd, who starts today’s series finale. “Somebody’s got to do it.”