Fort Wayne TinCaps (9-17, 45-51) @ Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (13-13, 47-49)
LHP Jerry Keel (5-9, 2.53) vs. RHP Miguel Diaz (1-7, 3.93)
Thursday, July 21 — Fox Cities Stadium — First Pitch 8:05 p.m. — Game 97
WEDNESDAY NIGHT: The TinCaps fell to the Timber Rattlers, 14-6, in the series opener. The TinCaps climbed out to a 5-0 lead in the third, but Wisconsin scored 12 runs over the next two frames and never looked back. 1B Brad Zunica (3 RBIs) and 3B Carlos Belen homered. SP Anderson Espinoza worked three innings in his Padres organizational debut.
LEAGUE LEADER: With his third-inning, three-run blast Wednesday, 1B Brad Zunica pulled into a tie for first in the MWL in home runs with 13 — 7 of which have come over the first 23 games of the second half. He also leads Fort Wayne in RBIs with 52. Zunica boasts the best HR/AB ratio in the league, homering once every 21.46 at-bats.
JERRY’S DEELING: Tonight’s starter, Jerry Keel, has been dealing of late. The southpaw has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last five starts. Keel didn’t allow an earned run over five innings on Friday night at home against Quad Cities. Keel earned a spot in the TinCaps starting rotation in June after notching a sterling 1.23 ERA as a reliever.
OVERTIME: The average time of game for the TinCaps over the last week-plus (8 games, Monday-Wednesday)? 3 hours, 19 minutes. Last night’s 3:33 slugfest was Fort Wayne’s longest 9-inning game of the season.
PACKED WITH PROSPECTS: In his midseason update released Tuesday, ESPN’s Keith Law said the Padres have the No. 2 farm system in baseball. The TinCaps boast 10 of San Diego’s top 30 prospects, per MLB.com (see bottom right).
PLAY OF THE WEEK: C Austin Allen’s window-smashing home run at West Michigan last Monday was named MiLB.com’s Play of the Week on Thursday afternoon. The blast cracked the glass of Fifth Third Ballpark’s Pepsi Stadium Club in right-center field and emerged from five other nominees in the voting on MiLB.com.
GIRON HEATS UP: SS Ruddy Giron, whohit his first home run of the season on Sunday, tallied 2 hits Wednesday night for his 11th multi-hit outing of the season. Giron has reached base in 13 consecutive games, raising his batting average 23 points and his on-base percentage 27 points over that time.
KNOCKING ON THE DOOR: After a pair of extra-innings losses to Cedar Rapids over the weekend, the TinCaps have dropped six games in extras this season. Fort Wayne, which has been walked off on eight times this year, has played in 35 games decided by one run (15-20), the most in the Eastern Division and the second-most in the Midwest League.