Fort Wayne, Ind. — The TinCaps defeated the Great Lakes Loons 5-2 in the series opener Friday night. While 18 year old Luis Patiño was solid on the mound, the story of the game was left fielder Robbie Podorsky, who went 5-for-5 at the plate, stole two bases, and was involved in every run the team scored.
“It was just one of those lucky nights where everything happened to go my way,” Podorsky said. “I had a gameplan, and I stuck to it… but it had a lot to do with luck tonight.”
The Loons struck early, grabbing a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, but Podorsky put the team in position to tie after an infield single and a stolen base. A couple of at-bats later, Luis Campusano hit a line drive off the third baseman’s glove to bring Podorsky home.
Two innings later, our 2017 Tri-City Player of the Year crushed a triple off the wall in left field to lead off the side.
“I don’t really remember much of the at bat, but I feel like at that point I was seeing the ball really well,” said Podorsky. “So I just took a massive hack. It was an 0-0 count and that’s a count you can do some damage with.”
Again, the TinCaps successfully brought Podorsky home with a Jeisson Rosario sacrifice fly to center for an early 2-1 lead.
Podorsky helped extend that lead with RBI singles in both the fourth and the eighth. The latter of those two hits, a bunt towards the pitcher, was right in the gray area of hit or error, but indubitably, Podorsky’s speed and success on the day put more pressure on the Loons’ pitcher to make a play than he could handle.
“His speed is something you can’t teach,” manager Anthony Contreras echoed. “It’s going to be a weapon for him as long as he plays professional baseball. He was able to put some good wood on the ball today and obviously, the bunt is in his game and puts pressure on the defenses.”
Starter Patiño threw four innings of one-run ball, striking out five with one walk. On a night when he didn’t have sharp command, Patiño battled through some tough situations to limit the damage.
After giving up a run in the first, Patiño found himself in a precarious situation following a pair of singles in the top of the second. Yet, he remained poised, collecting a three pitch strikeout on this 96 mph fastball:
The subsequent inning saw similar trouble as a pair of errors put runners on second and third with just one out, but the young Colombian threw back-to-back strikeouts to close out the side.
“I compete always,” Patiño said. “When I am in this situation, I need to have my best, so I throw my fastball and try to have good command of my pitches to do my best to get a strikeout or a groundout.”
Perhaps, the most intriguing facet of Patiño’s performance outside of his resilience was that he dominated the second time through the order, striking out four of the nine as he mixed in his secondaries. His slider was the sharpest I had seen it, flashing plus at times, but he stayed away from the curveball, which at other times has been best offering outside of the fastball.
After today’s performance, Patiño has struck out 21, allowed just one earned run, and scattered 11 hits over the 18 innings since he was lit up by West Michigan in his second start of the season.