Four errors, four wild pitches and a general defensive sloppiness doomed Fort Wayne against a Burlington attack that pounded TinCap pitchers for twelve hits.
“We just have to keep working,” said Jose Valentine, the TinCaps manager on his team’s play in the field.
“It’s a young team and I tell the guys that the main thing is you have to make the routine play. The diving plays are great, but in order to win you can’t give away runs.”
RHP Adys Portillo went four innings striking out six against only two walks but gave up four earned runs on four hits including a monstrous home run to left field on a first pitch fastball to Bee’s DH Dusty Robinson.
For Portillo, whom the Padres gave $2 million dollars to in 2008 out of Venezuela, he’s getting much closer than he was last season to becoming the pitcher the Padres invested in with more consistent performances so far in 2012. Coming into Friday’s game he had a 0.89 ERA.
“Tonight he just looked out of sync,” said TinCaps’ pitching coach Willie Blair on Portillo’s tough night.
“His rhythm and tempo were slow but he did finish strong in the last few innings.”
Despite going into his third year with the TinCaps Portillo is still only twenty years old and has filled out considerably since he was signed. His fastball and secondary offerings are becoming more consistent and this has easily been his best start of his career.
“Up until tonight he had been in a good rhythm of throwing down in the zone and had been able to throw his off-speed pitches for strikes,” Blair said on Portilo’s season so far.
“He’s made tremendous strides and we have to continue to build on positives.”
Another positive note was that top prospect catcher Austin Hedges looked good in his second game back from the DL going 2-4 with an RBI.
“I went through the full throwing program down in Arizona and was able to get my arm strength back and in the last few days its felt as good as ever,” Hedges said on his health.
“I was able to DH in all the [extended] games so I didn’t lose any of my timing at the plate.”
OF Donavan Tate might also be coming around after a tough start. He was 2-3 last night with a walk and tonight he made a nice play in left field gunning down a Burlington runner at home plate while going 1-3 at the plate with a walk.
An interesting side note was the appearance of former University of Alabama closer Nathan Kilcrease in the eighth for Burlington. What makes Kilcrease unique is that he is only 5’5” tall but can still bring the ball up at 93 MPH.
He set the TinCaps down in order proving once again that baseball is a game where players come in all shapes and sizes.