The TinCaps' dimming playoff hopes took another hit Sunday afternoon when they failed to score until the ninth inning and lost 4-1 to Lake County at Parkview Field.
The TinCaps are 2-7 in their past nine games, a slump that has made their postseason chances increasingly unlikely.
Lake County (55-69, 28-26 second half) clinched the season series against the TinCaps with the win, giving them the tiebreaker over Fort Wayne should it be necessary. The Captains lead the six-team pack that is in pursuit of the two remaining playoff berths in the Midwest League's Eastern Division.
The TinCaps (54-70, 24-31) are three games back of Dayton (27-28) for the wild card. However, the Dragons own the tiebreaker there, so the TinCaps need a better overall second-half record to pass the Dragons in the pecking order.
Offense was the problem Sunday, as the TinCaps just couldn't get much done against four Lake County pitchers. Starter Mitch Brown allowed two hits and struck out five in six dominant innings. Trevor Frank got two outs for the save.
The TinCaps loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth on a walk by Josh VanMeter, an infield single by Trea Turner and a base hit by Ronnie Richardson. If the TinCaps were to rally from a four-run hole, this was seemingly their best chance, with the 3-4-5 hitters in their order coming to the plate.
As the crowd suddenly roared in anticipation, a golden opportunity slowly went by the wayside. Fernando Perez was called out by plate umpire Patrick Sharshel on a check swing. He and manager Michael Collins both argued with Sharshel to no avail. Franmil Reyes then whiffed and Jake Bauers popped out to second to end the frame.
The TinCaps managed to put something together in the ninth, with VanMeter's RBI double setting up a second-and-third, one-out situation for Turner and Richardson. Turner struck out -- he went 1 for 5 -- and Richardson chopped a 3-1 pitch to short for the final out.
The Captains' tallies came in the first, fourth, fifth and seventh.
TinCaps starter Ronald Herrera went five innings and gave up three runs on seven hits. Justin Livengood worked three innings, permitting Clint Frazier's 12th home run.
Up next: The TinCaps begin a three-game series at home Monday against Great Lakes.