FORT WAYNE – Anyone who didn’t appreciate how much Fernando Perez means to the TinCaps does after Friday night.
Perez hit his ninth home run and racked up four RBI leading the TinCaps to a 6-2 victory over Beloit at Parkview Field.
Perez, who not long ago missed 12 games with a groin injury, went 3 for 4 with a walk.
From June 25 to July 7, Fort Wayne went 2-10 without its low-key slugger.
The TinCaps (43-59, 13-20 second half) are 8-8 since Perez’s return, which came just in time for a playoff push.
Manager Michael Collins said Perez is a stabilizing presence as the No. 3 batter.
That three-hole’s a tough spot, Collins said.
I think he’s handled it very, very well. It’s a lot of difficult situations, crucial points in the game.
Jake Bauers hit third while Perez was on the disabled list and struggled, batting .188 (9 for 48) during that time.
While the No. 3 spot often is thought of as prime real estate, reserved for the top hitter, Perez talks about not trying to produce more just because of where he hits in the lineup.
Perhaps that’s key.
I don’t really want to put any pressure on myself, Perez said. I know what I can do. I want to go up there and have fun.
There was plenty of it Friday, which began with Perez eating a breakfast of Mexican rice.
He might want to make that meal a habit, because Perez carried the offense.
His RBI double in the first inning gave Fort Wayne a 1-0 lead, and he kept things going in the third with a solo shot to right.
Perez also homered in Thursday’s 3-2 win. Both pitches were high and inside.
Perez continued his big night in the sixth with a two-run single that made it 5-0.
Driving all those runs in early really broke the game open for us and allowed our pitchers to just go out there and pitch, Collins said.
Kyle Lloyd (4-4) did those honors, pitching 5 2/3 shutout innings.
He gave up four hits, walked one and struck out seven.
I don’t know if I’m at (the) peak, but I’m starting to get back to where I was at the beginning of the season, Lloyd said.
Lloyd was successful early (four earned runs in 19 innings in April) and appears to have rebounded from a midseason lull.
The staff as a whole has coalesced, allowing the TinCaps to go 8-4 in their past 12 games.
Fort Wayne starters have allowed three earned runs or fewer in 11 of the last 12 games.
We’ve had a couple talks with (pitching coach Burt) Hooton to go over what we do, catcher Ryan Miller said. We’re hitting our spots a lot more now.
Beloit (40-63, 10-23) lost two of three in the series.
The TinCaps, only three back in the wild-card race, are hitting a high note.
We’re getting things together now, Perez said.
Our pitching, defense and hitting are working together. I try to do my job as best I can.
Notes: The sellout crowd of 7,482 was Fort Wayne’s 16th of the season. The season attendance total at Parkview Field is 272,146.
TinCaps third baseman Dustin Peterson snapped an 0-for-20 stretch with an infield single in the eighth.