MIDLAND, Mich. – Two teams headed in opposite directions showed why Thursday at Dow Diamond.
The surging Great Lakes Loons, as they have a lot lately, got good pitching, defense and timely hitting, while little went right for the Fort Wayne TinCaps in an 8-1 Loons win before 4,516 fans. It was the fifth win in a row for the Loons (11-9 in the second half) and a franchise-record 12thconsecutive loss for the TinCaps (5-15).
Fort Wayne actually out-hit the Loons 11-8, but Loons pitchers struck out 13 batters and walked only one. The TinCaps, meanwhile, walked eight Loons batters, including one with the bases loaded. Another Loons run scored on a passed ball.
"Our pitching has been really good and we're doing a good job of manufacturing runs and doing the little things right," said Loons third baseman Paul Hoenecke, who had an RBI double in the Loons five-run third inning. "But when your pitching is good, it takes a lot of pressure off of your offense. It takes the pressure off of everyone, really."
Thursday's starter, Victor Arano, gave up seven hits in his five innings of work but walked only one batter and struck out seven. Reliever Luis Chirinos, appearing in his first game in nearly a month, pitched a scoreless, three-strikeout inning, while Ralston Cash was similarly sharp over three shutout innings.
The Loons also played their fifth consecutive errorless game defensively. They came into the night leading the Midwest League in team defense.
"We've been pretty consistent (on defense) all year," said Haselman. "I think other teams (in the league) have fallen back a little bit over the course of the season, but we've been pretty good all along."
Hoenecke helped close out the win by fielding a hard grounder by Fort Wayne's Dustin Peterson and turning it into a 5-4-3 double play. Rightfielder Joey Curletta also threw out a runner trying to advance to second on a ball hit into the corner.
First baseman Webster Rivas continued his hot hitting with two hits and four RBI. Rivas had the big hit in the third inning, a bases-clearing double as the Loons broke open a 1-1 game. Rivas won Tuesday's game against the TinCaps with a walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Arano got the win for the Loons, improving to 4-3, while TinCaps starter Jimmie Brasoban (0-4) took the loss. Brasoban lasted just 2 2/3 innings, giving up six earned runs and four walks. Cash was credited with his first save for the Loons.
The Loons begin a four-game road trip tomorrow at Lake County. Right-hander Jonathan Martinez (7-5, 3.40 ERA) will be going eighth win for the Loons, while the Captains will counter with lefty Luis Lugo (5-7, 5.57 ERA). The Loons return to Dow Diamond next Wednesday (July 16) to being a six-game homestand with Clinton and Kane County.
The Great Lakes Loons are an eighth-year Single-A partner of the Los Angeles Dodgers. For tickets and more information, call 989-837-BALL or visit loons.com.
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