FORT WAYNE, Ind.— Despite taking an early lead, the TinCaps had their five-game winning streak come to an end as the Great Lakes Loons stopped Fort Wayne 9-6. Lefty Ramon Perez was in and out of trouble for the first four innings, but right-hander Angel Acevedo took the loss and absorbed most of the damage in an inning and a third, giving up four earned runs for his sixth loss without a win.
One of the bright spots of the night was Austin Smith, the second round pick in 2015 who was Padres’ General Manager A.J. Preller’s first draft selection with San Diego.
Smith came in with one out in the sixth inning and got an inning-ending double-play and it picked up from there. He got four of his last six outs on strikeouts and showed better command of his fastball and slider than he has since he has been in the system.
“It’s the best I’ve seen him throw,” said his manager Anthony Contreras. “I’ve been around him for a few years and he was just dominating at some points with his fastball and slider. It was huge of him to be able to pick up those innings for us tonight so we didn’t have to burn through too many bullpen arms.
“Even better was seeing him have the success that he had.”
It’s been a bumpy four years for Smith since being drafted. The Padres moved him to a relief role in 2018, and this season he didn’t make one of the opening day rosters after posting a 5.35 ERA between Fort Wayne and High-A Lake Elsinore last year.
This season he has been better with a 2.00 ERA in 18 innings as the organization has found that his fastball plays up more in shorter bursts and only throwing one secondary pitch has helped him achieve more consistency. He has been sitting 90-93 with his four-seam fastball and it has been up to 95.
“I am able to focus better just throwing two pitches and it’s helped me become more consistent with my mechanics,” said Smith afterward.
Right fielder Dwanya Williams-Sutton had a big night with a three-run home run and four RBI on a 2-4 night. Williams-Sutton had been fighting a slump but stressed the importance of staying in his routine for his pre-game work.
“In college, you can play a weekend series, then Monday and Tuesday work on your swing with the coaches. Here you have to be mentally tough and work on your stuff before the game, which is why having a routine is really important.
“You are going to have bad days at the plate and if you get down on yourself it’s only going to hinder you. I try to keep a level mind and hopefully everything works out in the end.”
TinCaps Notes: LHP Ryan Weathers takes the mound for the TinCaps Saturday night at 7:05 PM.
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