MacKenzie Gore hopes the third time is the charm as he looks to get his first full-season campaign on track.
San Diego's second-ranked prospect hurled two hitless innings, striking out three, in his return from the disabled list as Class A Fort Wayne rolled over Lansing, 15-0, on Sunday afternoon at Parkview Field.
It was the fourth start of the season for Gore, who was activated from his second DL stint of the year after suffering a blister on his left middle finger. The 19-year-old had not started a game since allowing three runs over three innings against West Michigan on May 14.
"It was a lot of fun to get back out there," Gore said. "I have a lot of work to do, though. But just being back on the mound was great. Now it's time to get ready for my next turn."
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MLB.com's No. 17 overall prospect showed no ill effects during his return. Gore worked around a one-out walk to Blue Jays No. 17 prospect Ryan Noda while registering all three of his strikeouts in the opening frame. He plunked Samad Taylor to begin the second, but picked off Toronto's 13th-ranked prospect. Gore got Yeltsin Gudino and Brandon Grudzielanek to pop out to end the third. The southpaw tossed 24 of 36 pitches for strikes in his first scoreless effort of the season.
Gore entered Sunday having allowed nine runs on 15 hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts in eight innings during his first three starts.
"That was certainly the best I've looked so far [this season]," he said. "Although I'm not sure it's the best I've felt. I've been pretty comfortable in all four of my starts, but I definitely threw the best so far. I'm on top of my game when I pitch with an edge. For whatever reason, that edge was missing my first few times out. I wasn't pitching with any sort of frustration or extra purpose, but I was out there competing and it showed in the results."
The Wilmington, North Carolina native excelled during seven starts in the Rookie-level Arizona League after the Padres selected him with the third pick in last year's Draft. Gore went 1-2 with a 1.27 ERA while holding opponents to a .184 average with 34 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings. Promoted to Fort Wayne, he surrendered two runs on five hits and a walk with four strikeouts in three innings during his 2018 debut against Lansing on April 10. He was placed on the disabled list the first time with a blister issue on April 13 and did not return until May 8.
Gore has spent 44 of 67 days on the disabled list this season.
"The hand feels 100 percent," he said. "I was certainly out long enough, so I'm glad [the time off] seemed to work. It was just nice to be out there and help the team achieve a nice, complete win."
Aaron Leasher (3-3) scattered four hits and three walks while fanning six over six innings in relief. Jordan Guerrero completed the TinCaps' third shutout of the season.
Tenth-ranked Esteury Ruiz finished a triple shy of the cycle while scoring a career-high five runs and driving in a season-best four to pace Fort Wayne. Ninth-ranked Gabriel Arias doubled, singled and drove in two runs and Justin Lopez added three hits and two RBIs for Fort Wayne, which totaled season highs in runs (15) and hits (18).
Lansing starter Maximo Castillo (4-2), Toronto's No. 24 prospect, was charged with a season-high-tying eight runs on eight hits and three walks with three strikeouts in three-plus innings.