Miscue-prone Dragons ambushed by Fort Wayne

The Fort Wayne TinCaps were 1-9 in their last 10 games, they were the lone team eliminated from the first-half playoff race in the Midwest League, and they were 0-6 on Fridays.

So, of course, the TinCaps banged out 14 hits, three short of a team record, in an 8-6 win over the Dragons at Fifth Third Field.

“We probably had all the confidence and overlooked them,” Dragons manager Luis Bolivar said. “And when you do that, that’s what happens.”

Dayton had its share of miscues.

Hector Vargas was picked off second with no outs in the fifth inning, TJ Friedl was called out at home on a questionable call in the seventh and Bruce Yari struck out twice — once with the bases loaded in the seventh, then to end the game while representing the tying run.

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South Bend built a 4-0 lead before Dayton got on the board with two in the sixth, but the teams traded runs the rest of the way.

“It’s hard to keep up,” Bolivar said. “We score and then they came right back and scored. We were trying to come back, but we fell short.

“They have to be aware of what is going on. They have to come back and do a better job than they did tonight.”

Dragons tales

• Home runs for Dragons backup catcher Cassidy Brown have been far and few between, but Brown is having a power surge.

Getting a second consecutive start Friday, Brown clubbed a 354-foot home run down the left-field line in the seventh inning, his second as a Dragon.

Brown’s solo shot in the seventh Thursday night against South Bend gave the Dragons a lead they would squander in the ninth.

Prior to Thursday night, the last time Brown had gone deep was June 19, 2016 for rookie-level Billings (Mont).

It was his lone home run of 2016.

• The Dragons, Cubs and West Michigan enter the final stretch of the first half in a battle for the two Midwest League Eastern Division playoff spots.

West Michigan (37-17) pushed its lead to two games over the Dragons with a 1-0 win at home Friday night against Lansing.

South Bend (34-20) stayed hot with a 5-2 win at Lake County to move into a tie for the final playoff spot with the Dragons.

Dayton’s magic number for clinching a playoff spot remains at 16 with the loss.

All three teams have 16 games remaining in the 70-game first half.

• Three West Michigan players have been suspended stemming from the benches-clearing brawl at Fifth Third Field on Sunday.

Relief pitcher Eduardo Jimenez was suspended 30 games after running onto the field and throwing a ball that struck Dragons reliever Jesse Stallings.

Shortstop Daniel Pinero drew a five-game suspension and pitcher Spenser Watkins a one-game suspension. Pinero, who began his suspension Friday night, began the incident when he stepped on Jose Siri’s ankle after Siri stole second base.

Siri began serving his three-game suspension and Wennington Romero his four-game ban Thursday night.

• Bolivar said right-handed starter Tony Santillan is on pace to return from the disabled list after missing one start.

The 6-foot-3 Texas native experienced tightness in his pitching shoulder after working five innings in relief of Tony Cingrani in recording the win against West Michigan on Memorial Day.

Santillan is 3-1 for Dayton with a 2.45 ERA in 55 innings of work.

“Everything so far is going good with his rehab,” Bolivar said. “He is a good guy and we want to make sure he stays healthy for the rest of the season. He is going to miss the one start and then he will be ready to go.”

• Dayton and Fort Wayne continue their three-game series tonight.

Matt Blandino will get his first start for the Dragons in place of the injured Santillan.

Blandino, a 6-foot-1 righty from Felician University, was 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA in 2016 with the Reds’ extended spring training team in Arizona.

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