Over the past month, MacKenzie Gore has been solid but not quite dominant. On Thursday, though, he flexed his muscles on the mound and showed why he is one of the game's top pitching prospects.
San Diego's second-ranked prospect struck out eight batters while allowing two hits and two walks over five scoreless innings as Class A Fort Wayne topped Dayton, 5-4, at Parkview Field.
"It was nice to go up there and throw zeros," he said. "The starts before, I pitched well, but I made a mistake here or there, kind of lost focus and they came back and got me. Tonight I stayed locked in and made good pitches when I needed to and put up some zeros."
Gameday box score
Gore, who didn't factor into the decision, worked around a two-out single by Reds No. 4 prospect Jonathan India in the first inning and fanned two Dragons during the frame. The left-hander struck out the side in the second and whiffed Reshard Munroe to begin the third. Mitch Piatnik reached on catcher interference by Jalen Washington, but the backstop caught Piatnik stealing second with 14th-ranked prospect Jose Garcia at the plate. Gore got Garcia looking to end the frame.
In the fourth, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2017 Draft yielded a leadoff single up the middle to Alejo Lopez and issued a free pass to India. But all Gore needed was five pitches to navigate the foot traffic -- a first-pitch flyout by Andy Sugilio, a three-pitch strikeout of Hendrik Clementina and another first-pitch flyout from Lorenzo Cedrola.
"Fastball had some life on it," baseball's No. 11 overall prospect said. "I located well. ... [My command] was solid. I walked some guys, but I worked ahead for the most part. It was pretty good tonight."
Back out for the fifth, Gore walked Reshard Munroe with one out and stranded him to turn in his first scoreless outing since July 4 against Great Lakes. The 19-year-old allowed two earned runs in each of his four starts between, going 0-3. He racked up a career-high 10 punchouts during his start at Peoria on July 15. The key against Dayton, he said, was limiting his mistakes.
"I had good stuff," Gore said. "I got away with some of the [mistakes]. I made mistakes tonight, just not as many and they didn't hurt me."
The 6-foot-3 hurler lowered his ERA to 3.75 on the season, which has included two stints on the disabled list to combat blister issues. Gore threw 41 of his 56 pitches for strikes Thursday.
"I'm good," he insisted. "I'm healthy."
The Padres are still monitoring Gore's usage, especially as his first professional season wears on. But the 191-pound hurler wants to take the ball as much as possible.
"I haven't thrown as much as I could have if I hadn't got hurt," he said. "I'm here now. I can't look back and be 'What if? What if?' I'll go pitch until they take the ball from me. ... I would have liked to go six or seven, but five was good tonight. I gave us a chance to win and we did, which was good."
As his season winds down, Gore wants to keep the consistency rolling.
"The fastballs can get better," the southpaw said. "The changeups and the offspeeds can always get better. Just getting more consistent and building off my starts. Just going out there and winning, really."
India, the fifth overall selection in this June's Draft, finished 1-for-4, while Clementina belted a solo homer. India was a worthy adversary, Gore said.
"It's fun [going against] a good player, but it's always fun to face some guys [like that]," he said. "That's a good team."
Jack Suwinski collected three RBIs for the TinCaps, slugging a two-run homer and adding a sacrifice fly. Hunter Jarmon, playing in his first game with Fort Wayne, roped a walk-off double in the ninth.