If the TinCaps make the playoffs – and that continues to look like a distinct possibility – they can thank their ability to pound baseballs into the stands.
On Tuesday, they had two home runs – Nick Schulz continued his torrid pace with a three-run blast in the fourth inning – and Fort Wayne defeated the Lansing Lugnuts 7-1 at Parkview Field.
The TinCaps have 75 home runs this season – including two by Schulz and one by Dustin Peterson in Monday’s 4-3 victory over Lansing – and they are on pace for 92, which would be their most since the 97 of 2009.
They have already hit more home runs than they did in all of 2011 (67) and 2012 (64), and they’re one back of the total of last year.
The TinCaps’ first batter Tuesday, Trea Turner, got things started against Lansing’s starting pitcher, Miguel Castro by blasting a 97 mph pitch over the left field wall for a 1-0 lead.
That was increased in the fourth, when a Peterson groundout brought home Franmil Reyes. The next matter, Ryan Miller, was hit by a pitch, setting up Schulz for his gargantuan home run to left field for a 5-0 lead in front of 4,933 fans.
That was the end of the night for Castro, who allowed only three hits, while striking out five and walking one, but was victimized by the three home runs.
Meanwhile, Fort Wayne’s starting pitcher, Jeffery Enloe, was steady; he gave up four hits and struck out three over six innings.
Schulz has been on a torrid pace. He is on a six-game hitting streak, has had multiple hits in four of those games, and he has four home runs and 12 RBI over the last 10 games. After going 1 for 3 with two runs Tuesday, his season average is up to .317 with five home runs, 16 runs and 16 RBI in 27 games.
The TinCaps (51-62 overall, 21-23 in second half) have been stupendous since their 13-game losing streak came to an end July 12, then have won 16 of 23 games and all of their last four.
They came into the night one game back of Dayton and Great Lakes, who had a hold on the final two playoff spots out of the Midwest League’s Eastern Division.
But the TinCaps, who are led in home runs by 10 apiece from Peterson, Miller and Reyes, are hoping to power their way past them in the final 27 games.
Turner was 3 for 5 with a run and two RBI.
Lansing (51-62, 19-25) got a 2-for-4 performance from Mitch Nay.
Notes: Miller was the catcher for the TinCaps, a night after Adolfo Reina injured his elbow making a tag at home plate. Reina was working with pitchers in the bullpen during the game but wasn’t making throws. … Only Cedar Rapids (17-6) and West Michigan (16-6) had better records in the Midwest League than the TinCaps’ 15-7 mark over the previous 22 games.