The Great Lakes Loons dropped their 2013 Midwest League home opener to the Fort Wayne Tincaps 5-2 in front of 3,765 fans at a chilly 56 degree Dow Diamond in Midland, Mi Thursday evening.
Loons starter, Angel Sanchez (0-1, 11.25 ERA) gave up six hits, five runs (all earned), including two home runs; while striking out one Fort Wayne batter, and walking three through four innings of work, earning the loss for the Loons Thursday.
Fort Wayne outfielder, Brian Adams singled to lead off the third inning. Adams scored the first run of the game when Fort Wayne outfielder, Mallex Smith drove him in with a single off Sanchez. Fort Wayne outfielder, Jeremy Baltz then drove Smith in for the Tincaps second run of the inning. Adams continued to show off his hitting power in the fourth inning when he bombed a 368 foot, two-run home run over the left field wall at Dow Diamond. Smith followed with a 356 foot solo shot over the right field wall to round out the Fort Wayne scoring.
“We got beat by a better ball club tonight,” said Loons skipper Razor Shines. “They pitched better, they hit better, they were coached better; they were the better club tonight.” Shines admitted that his team didn’t play the way he would have liked, but also noted that it’s a long season, and he looks for his club to eventually get on track; while pointing out that his club had their chances tonight, but missed out on some quality opportunities. “We didn’t do some things well, we loaded the bases with nobody out, and I think we had two strikeouts, and an infield out that inning,” noted Shines. “Then, we should’ve had the bases loaded again with nobody out in the ninth, but that’s part of the game; you know, we’re an aggressive club, we live by it and we die by it, that’s just the way we play the game.”
There were some bright spots for the Loons in the opener. Great Lakes outfielder, Jeremy Rathjen went 2-for-4 at the plate; while Malcolm Holland went 2-for-3 and scored one of the two Loons runs. Rathjen is the Dodgers number 29 prospect in the organization, and is battling back from a knee injury he sustained during his junior year in college; which caused him to drop from likely being a fourth or fifth round pick, to an eleventh round pick by the Dodgers in the 2012 MLB draft.
Rathjen was first drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the forty-fifth round of the 2008 MLB draft, then he was drafted for the second time in the forty-first round by the Yankees in the 2011 MLB draft; but the Houston, Tx native decided instead to continue to play college baseball at Rice University. Finally, the Dodgers drafted Rathjen in the eleventh round of the 2012 MLB draft. Rathjen had a very successful campaign in the rookie league in Ogden; hitting .324 through 68 games for the Dodgers rookie league affiliate, the Ogden Raptors. That experience could be invaluable to this very young Loons team, as Rathjen passes along his experience to his younger team mates. “I guess I’ve seen a lot of stuff, being able to play for awhile,” said Rathjen. “I try not to get too much (one way or the other) I try not to get too up or too down; If there were anything I could pass along to the younger guys, I guess it would be that; to just try and stay balanced.” “We were all excited to come out here and play,” continued Rathjen. “I thought we gave it a good effort; I have to give a lot of credit to the guys (on the mound), they pitched well, but we couldn’t string the hits together; but, it’s a lot of fun to get that first game going.”
The Loons will continue their series with Fort Wayne Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Dow Diamond; then, the Loons will start a three-game home series with Lake County beginning on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.
Update: Loons drop Friday’s game 6-2 to the Tincaps, and lose Saturday’s contest 13-0 to start the season at 0-3; but the Loons finally earned their first victory of the season on Sunday afternoon with an 8-3 win over the Tincaps for the final game of the series. The Loons will be back in action Monday evening to host the Lake County Captains at 6:05 at Dow Diamond (Weather permitting).