FORT WAYNE — Jake Bauers lightheartedly taunted Franmil Reyes about Team USA’s win over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday in an exhibition basketball game.
“We can’t win at all sports,” replied Reyes, a Dominican native. “We have to let the other countries have a chance some of the time.”
In the TinCaps’ clubhouse, following Wednesday night’s 10-0 demolition of Great Lakes, this was the stress-free mood, one merited by the team’s most complete game.
The offense, which finally broke out, was backed by error-free defense and the stellar pitching of Kyle Lloyd.
“I’m just glad the bats woke up,” said Fernando Perez, who went 3 for 4 with a solo home run and a two-run shot – the third multihomer game by a TinCap this year.
Lloyd continued to fill an ace role as the playoff push intensifies.
His latest gem came in the form of a six-inning, one-hit beauty against the Loons, a team against which he was 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in four previous outings this season.
Lloyd (6-4) struck out six and faced two batters above the minimum, never allowing a runner to reach second base.
“I was working ahead of hitters,” the right-hander said. “When you’re getting strike one, you’re able to do what you want to do.”
The TinCaps (56-71, 26-32 second half) begin a three-game series at Lake County today and still face an uphill battle to make the playoffs.
Dayton beat South Bend 5-3 on Wednesday to maintain a two-game edge in the wild-card race, and the Dragons own the tiebreaker over Fort Wayne.
One scenario illustrates why the TinCaps’ postseason hopes are on such thin ice.
If Dayton wins six of its final 12 games, the TinCaps would need to go at least 9-3 in their final 12 to make it.
Plus, the Loons (61-67, 27-31) are still in the picture, along with Bowling Green (even with the TinCaps) and Lansing (one game behind Fort Wayne).
“Everybody’s right there,” Lloyd said. “All the teams are in a position to be able to take it. This last week is going to be big.”
If the TinCaps maintain the form that jolted the Loons on Wednesday, there is plenty of reason for hope.
Reyes and Henry Charles also went deep, staking Lloyd to a five-run lead after three innings.
“That could be one of the most enjoyable games to watch,” TinCaps manager Michael Collins said. “We scored 10 runs, 10 hits, a bunch of extra-base hits, home runs – awesome.”
In the first, Reyes lined a 3-1, 89 mph delivery to left for his 11th homer. That gave the TinCaps a 3-0 lead, and Charles hit a solo shot in the second. Perez connected in the third and again in the sixth.
It was the first time Fort Wayne hit four homers in a game since April 6 of last year – also against Great Lakes.
“It’s funny that (hitting coach Morgan Burkhart) and I were talking in the early innings about what was different,” Collins said. “Maybe nothing. Maybe it’s contagious.”
Notes: The TinCaps raised $4,470 on behalf of Stand Up to Cancer by auctioning off the special jerseys they wore. Cory Dold, a 28-year-old alumnus of Saint Francis, won a contest to design the uniforms, which featured a cancer awareness ribbon. … TinCaps left-hander Max Fried underwent Tommy John surgery Wednesday on his pitching elbow, a procedure that will sideline him until 2016.