After exploding for nine runs Sunday in the finale of a series against West Michigan, the offensive inertia that plagued the TinCaps most of last week returned, spoiling a good start from newly arrived right-hander Carlos Guarate.
Guarate, the No. 17 prospect in the Padres’ farm system per Fangraphs, pitched five innings and gave up two runs on four hits in his High-A debut, but Fort Wayne managed only four hits of its own, struck out 12 times and lost 4-1 in the opener of a six-game series against the first-place Dayton Dragons on Tuesday at Parkview Field in front of an announced crowd of 4,333.
“Our hitters have to do a better job of getting on base and stringing hits together,” manager Anthony Contreras said. “We’ve showed that when we can do that, good things happen for us, but everyone has to be pulling in the right direction.”
The game was scoreless into the third inning, when Dragons No. 9 hitter Jose Tello ripped a line drive to left that hit the top of the wall and spun over for a home run and a 1-0 lead. The long ball ended a streak of six in a row set down by Guarate.
Dayton added another run in the fifth on a two-out RBI double from Jacob Hurtubise that barely sneaked under left-fielder Tirso Ornelas’s glove as he tried to make a diving catch.
That was all Guarate gave up. The right-hander, who was called up from Low-A Lake Elsinore last week after throwing six no-hit innings in his previous start, struck out one and walked none on 64 pitches and said he could have gone an inning or two longer, though his fastball was the only pitch that was really working for him.
The TinCaps scored their only run in the seventh inning when outfielder Agustin Ruiz hit a home run 373 feet to straightaway right. It was Ruiz’s 11th homer of the season, tied for seventh in the league, and his first since June 26.
“He’s been putting good (at-bats) together, putting good swings on pitches and obviously he has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark whenever he connects,” Contreras said of the lefty-swinging slugger. “It’s good to see him jump back on that horse and get another home run.”
Fort Wayne put two on with two out in the eighth and Ruiz came up as the tying run, but he struck out looking on a breaking ball that might have been high. Contreras appeared to have some sharp words for plate umpire Justin Juska as the manager returned to the dugout.
Note: Prior to the game, the TinCaps announced that right-hander Matt Waldron had been promoted to Double-A San Antonio. Waldron was third in High-A Central in ERA at 3.24 and led the circuit in innings pitched with 721/3. The Padres also sent 25-year-old left-handed reliever Fred Schlichtholz to Fort Wayne from Double-A. Schlichtholz spent most of 2018 with Fort Wayne in Low-A. He has a 5.93 ERA in 23 Double-A appearances in 2021.
When: 7:05 p.m. today
Where: Parkview Field
Pitchers: LHP Danny Denz (TinCaps) vs. RHP Lyon Richardson (Dragons)
TV: Xfinity 81
Radio: 1380 AM, 100.9 FM